Lisa Day Long: Pharmacist, Teacher, World Traveler

I met Lisa Long at the University of Georgia back in the eighties. We shared an apartment our senior year. I was 22 and she was something like 19. Yep. 19. That’s because she’s a genius who skipped a bunch of grades in school and still managed to blow the rest of us out of the water. She got so much scholarship money that she stayed around an extra year, taking elective classes and learning more before she decided to graduate. Back then, Lisa was a percussionist. She graduated with a degree in education, then after teaching music for a short time, she went on to get her Doctorate in Pharmacy. Lisa is currently a Clinical Pharmacist and Pharmacy Director of Home Health and Hospice at WellStar in Marietta, Ga. When she isn’t working, she loves traveling with her family. So far, she’s visited fifty one countries, and has set her sights on two new ones (Iceland and Croatia) for this summer. 

Thanks so much for joining us Lisa. Can you describe how brain power is an asset to your career?  As a clinical pharmacist, I use a lot of chemistry and math when calculating doses, creating formulas, and predicting a patient’s response to drug regimens.  I also have to figure out the best way to convey information, depending on whether it is a physician, a nurse, or the patient.  I recognize that attention to detail is critical in my career because one decimal point can be the difference between a patient getting well and actually harming the patient.

What make you interested in becoming a pharmacist?  I was actually a music/pre-med double major in undergrad school, so I followed the BMus curriculum and took “fun” classes like physics and organic chemistry as my electives.  After completing a Master of Education degree and teaching music for a few years, I knew it wasn’t for me and started reconsidering med school.  At that point in my life, I knew I wanted a career which would allow me a lot of flexibility so that I could be at home when we started our family, and medicine wasn’t really the right direction.  I discovered that the Doctor of Pharmacy degree would open doors to many different careers aside from retail pharmacy.  One thing that I do as a side job is consult and speak for a medical continuing education company; I love it because it combines my clinical knowledge with my passion for sharing that knowledge with others.

 Do you have a favorite way to flaunt your brain power? I love a “sneak attack”…When I’m in a conversation with someone who is patronizing or condescending, I love to let them prattle on for a little bit, and then when I’ve had enough, I will unleash data, theories, quotations, etc. to completely stop them in their tracks.  I suppose because I am short and blonde, this tends to happen more often than I want.

That makes me smile. 🙂 What do you think is cool about being nerdy? I think for nerdy people who are comfortable with their “nerdiness”, they don’t feel that they have to prove anything.  They are okay with who they are and who their friends are.  There is something very liberating about that.

Tell us about a well-known nerdy chick you admire and why you admire her. Best nerdy chick EVER is fictional character Lisbeth Salander from Stieg Larsson’s Millennium series.

I use Lisbeth as an example of a great character when I teach writing classes! She definitely flouts social norms and flaunts brain power. Great example. Now can you share a favorite song, quote, or movie that speaks to your inner nerdiness? Best nerd song is a tie between Thomas Dolby’s “She Blinded Me With Science”–an 80s classic, and The Dead Milkmen’s “Punk Rock Girl”–not necessarily nerdy, but celebrates individualism.

I so remember that Blinded Me With Science MTV Video! What about a favorite nerdy quote? What was previously perceived as nerdy is now viewed as original. What I like about nerdiness, geekiness, is it doesn’t really matter what you’re into – it just means you’re not a follower.  Kristen Bell 

Be nice to nerds. Chances are you’ll end up working for one.
— Bill Gates

Both excellent! Thanks.  Can you tell us something about your love of travel, and what you and your family learn from your experiences? We take one big trip every year, and when we can squeeze in a cruise or a small get-away, we like to do those as well.  I love travelling because every day is a new experience and (in my case) adventure.  I love stepping a little bit outside of my comfort zone because it challenges me to think on my feet and adapt to unfamiliar surroundings.  For example, when we were renting a car in Rome, we didn’t speak Italian, and the woman helping us didn’t speak English, so we found a common language (French) and completed the transaction in French.  I love seeing places I learned about in school; it somehow makes everything “real”.  For my children, I think travelling teaches tolerance, patience, and adaptability; the reality of travel today is that flights will be delayed, there are countries that have a very different belief system than we do in the USA, and if you’re hungry enough, you’ll eat just about anything.  The adventures we share and the memories we create as a family (hiking in the Andes when our train derailed, hanging upside down with my foot caught in cargo netting while ziplining in New Hampshire, attending a Burt Bacharach concert at the Sydney Opera House) are better than any material gift I could ever receive!

Lisa and her family in Peru.

So how does nerdiness help you with your planning and your globetrotting?  I do a lot of research when planning a trip.  I love finding unusual things to do in the places we visit, e.g. ZORBing in New Zealand, and it does take quite a bit of digging to find those types of activities.  I also love saving money, so figuring out ways to manipulate loyalty program points and decrease airfare by considering various connection options occupies a lot of my time.  One summer, I managed to save over $1800/person on an airfare using only a few thousand points.

What’s something you like to do that might be considered a little bit nerdy, but is actually really fun? I love doing logic problems before I go to bed.  They make sense of the senseless, and the order and logic calms my mind so I can sleep.

Oh man. I listen to M*A*S*H every night before I go to bed. Alan Alda calms my mind so I can sleep. I’m thinking you’re out-nerding me on this one…  

Thanks again Lisa, for sharing your time with us!