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In a Healing Profession

Thomas Westerkamp (BS ’77) donated to the College of Pharmacy because, he says, “UIC helped form the foundation for a life of learning. UIC helped me keep patients, and care for patients, at the forefront of pharmacy decision making. It helped me become the pharmacist I am today.”

He adds: “We are in a life-saving profession that focuses on helping to care for others.”

Westerkamp is personally acquainted with the life-saving potential of pharmacy. One day years ago, he was in church with his children when an elderly woman collapsed during Mass. He was a certified CPR instructor and had pharmacy experience covering “code blues” (cardiac or respiratory arrests) in the hospital. He performed CPR on the woman.

“After several minutes of chest compressions, we felt a pulse,” he recalls. “When I asked her if she could hear me, if she could squeeze my hand, and when she did, I almost fainted. I was so excited to have been in the right place at the right time. I held her hand until the paramedics took her to the hospital. But she survived. I will never forget that moment, and how my clinical experience in the ICU satellite pharmacy trained me to respond to cardiac arrest victims.”

Now Associate Director of Medical Affairs with Baxter Health Care, Westerkamp recalls learning from College of Pharmacy faculty such as Dr. Conrad Blomquist and Dr. Richard Hutchinson. “I received a good, solid pharmacy education, one that helped me get my first clinical position in critical care,” he says. “UIC helped me keep patients, and care for patients, at the forefront of pharmacy decision making.”

He has given several times in the past and is working on an endowment “that will generate an annual gift to a needy student.”

“Many pharmacists read about alumni gift-giving and think they must be in big cushy corporate positions making tons of money to donate,” he adds. “That’s simply not true. Many smaller contributions do add up. Don’t hold back because you think, ‘I’m not a president or CEO.’ Many hands pulling in one direction can share the load. I want to help the students whose careers will follow mine, and I hope other alums feel the same.”