Nancy (Hale) Fleming
Northeastern University College of Pharmacy, BS 1971
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Holbrook, Massachusetts, but my family moved to West Roxbury when I started at the Northeastern University College of Pharmacy.
Why did you choose pharmacy as a major?
When I was a little girl, the local pharmacist was a well-known and respected figure in our community. Then as a junior in high school, Sister Mary Josephine spoke about high school sweethearts that she had once taught who became pharmacists and owned their own retail pharmacy after graduation. She thought pharmacy was a great profession, and it worked well for women who wanted a family as well as a career because they can work the hours they wished. That made an impression on me, as I was always interested in medicine. I applied to Northeastern University College of Pharmacy and got accepted.
What is your full educational background?
I received a BS in Pharmacy from Northeastern in 1971, and an MBA from Babson College in 1985.
What have you done since your time at Northeastern?
After graduation, I worked for a small, independent pharmacy in Braintree. I worked opposite the owner/pharmacist, so I was the sole practitioner on my shifts. That was a lot of responsibility for a new graduate, but my co-op experience prepared me well. I stayed there for 6 months, and then I decided I wanted to return to hospital pharmacy practice. I was hired as a staff pharmacist at Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in January of 1972. I later became Assistant Director of the department.
In 1980, the Brigham went through a three-hospital merger to become Brigham & Women’s Hospital, where I was Supervisor of Pharmacy Services. One of the most rewarding and fun responsibilities during my time at the Brigham was hiring and mentoring students from Northeastern University and Massachusetts College of Pharmacy & Health Sciences. It was a joy to be working with students.
I left the Brigham in 1984 to finish the last semester of my MBA from Babson College, which I received in May 1985. Later that year, my daughter Kate was born, followed 17 months afterwards by my son Chris. Subsequently, I became involved in my community, particularly with the schools. Over the years, I volunteered in the classrooms, was on school councils and served as chair of our local school committee. Being active in the community is very important and rewarding.
What was your Northeastern experience like?
I had been one of 24 girls in my high school senior class, so Northeastern, which I believe was the largest private university in the country at the time, was initially a bit of a culture shock.
Northeastern was certainly a very positive experience. The College of Pharmacy had a great faculty. Our professional pharmacy classes started in our third year. The curriculum has evolved over the years, but then we were required to take pharmacognosy, and because of the prominence of the community pharmacist, public speaking was also a requirement. The pharmacology classes were great, and our pharmacy labs with Professor Joe Palumbo were terrific. I felt well prepared to practice because of the excellent instruction and excellent co-ops.
Where did you do your co-ops, and how beneficial were they?
My entire co-op experience was at University Hospital, which is now Boston Medical Center. The job involved a bit of heavy lifting, and that, coupled with the scarcity of female pharmacy students (8 in my graduating class) was, I suspect, part of the reason I was their first female co-op. My co-op partner was my classmate Russ Fair, and we worked well together. It was a great co-op experience, and I remain grateful for all that I learned there.
What would you say to a student who is considering attending the pharmacy program at the School of Pharmacy at Northeastern University?
I would say, “Absolutely go!” If that student has decided that pharmacy is what she or he wants to do, I cannot imagine a better preparation than that at our school, both from an academic and experiential perspective.
What is your fondest memory of your time at Northeastern?
My happiest and fondest memory of my time at Northeastern is meeting my husband.
Who was your favorite professor?
I have trouble with choosing favorites, but probably Professor John Neumeyer because of the joy and enthusiasm he brought to the classroom, not to mention his depth of knowledge. He taught medicinal chemistry.
What has changed the most since your time at Northeastern?
The physical appearance of campus is quite different, especially the greenery, beautification, and dormitories.
Regarding pharmacy in particular, the curriculum has changed, and graduated now earn a PharmD degree. And many more women are in pharmacy than when I started. When I was practicing in the community, people were so surprised to see a woman as a pharmacist. Thankfully, that has changed.
Who did you spend a lot of time with?
Esther Menz, who also lived in West Roxbury, and Miu Dow, who was my alternate at University Hospital. The three of us spent a lot of time together.
A Few Words of Advice:
Always remember who you are. Life can be confusing, and when you know who you are and what is important to you, you prioritize accordingly and make solid decisions.
Work hard and play hard! Life should be purposeful, but you need to laugh every day. You need to have fun.