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Shooting Star Danelle Erickson

Danelle Erickson, 26, is building a home and a future for herself in Wadena as a pharmacist at Tri-County Hospital. She joined the pharmaceutical staff in May after graduating from North Dakota State University College of Pharmacy.

Erickson was born to Scott and Peggy Loween and raised in Wadena. She graduated from Wadena-Deer Creek High School in 1998 with dreams of going to medical school. However, Erickson decided to switch majors from pre-med to pharmacy during her junior year at NDSU.

"I just got to the point where I didn't want to go to medical school anymore," she said.

But the leap from medical school to pharmaceutical studies proved more difficult than she anticipated, Erickson said.

"I don't think I really knew what to expect," she said about the six-year program. "It was a lot more challenging than I thought it was going to be."

It was competitive to get into the college of pharmacy and difficult all the way through, she said.

"[But] it was worth it," Erickson said, recalling all her hard work.

Erickson said there is much more to working as a pharmacist than dispensing medications from behind a counter at a retail center.

"[Some] people don't realize the role pharmacists play," she said.

Erickson chose to work at Tri-County Hospital because of the variety of pharmaceutical work she is involved with at a rural hospital, she said. Her work includes in-patient and out-patient responsibilities as well as the telepharmacy for the Sebeka clinic.

"With the rural hospital experience, you get a little bit of everything," Erickson said.

She works closely with nurses in patient care by administering new prescriptions and preparing IVs, she said. Erickson has to be careful of drug interactions and correct dosages. She also mixes chemotherapy and fills prescriptions for the hospital staff, she said.

Erickson learned that she enjoyed the challenges of a hospital pharmacy during her final year of school, which she said was spent working five-week rotations at different pharmacies. She did one of her rotations at Tri-County Hospital.

"Through all the different rotations, it's probably the one I enjoyed the most," she said. "I love the people that I work with. That makes a big difference."

When Erickson isn't busy managing medications, she is working on her log-cabin style home west of Wadena.

"I went from studying to building a home," she said about the transition from college to her current life. "I'm hoping it won't be long until things are settled."

When she does get some spare time, she enjoys going fishing and reading at home, she said. The homes of Erickson's family and friends in Wadena also provide a place for her to relax after work. Her family and her job are the two main reasons she returned to Wadena, she said.

Erickson never expected when she graduated high school that she would return to Wadena, she said. But she is very happy that she did. Erickson enjoys being close to her family and pursuing her pharmaceutical profession.

"I just fell into it," she said about her brand new career. "It's a great job."