After watching a number of loved ones fight cancer, Pikesville native Karen Ciurca-Weiner knew she wanted to help people with the disease. A former buyer for Macy’s in New York City, White House Black Market and Baltimore boutiques Vassari and Jones & Jones, Ciurca-Weiner joined the staff of Northern Pharmacy, at 6701 Harford Rd., nearly four years ago.
She recently spoke with Jmore about why she loves her career and how she transitioned to a different field after decades in the fashion industry.
Jmore: Tell us about Northern Pharmacy.
Ciurca-Weiner: Northern Pharmacy has been around for over 80 years. It is family owned by the Mintz family from Pikesville. I love the company, I love the people I work with. I believe in their philosophy — all about customer service and treating people like family. It’s a company that puts the customer first and never says no. If we can’t do it, we’ll find someone who can. We’re also a very philanthropic company. Their hearts are in it.
What’s your job?
I’m an account manager for AMEND Rx, our specialty pharmacy. The specialty pharmacy deals with high-touch medical care — providers and patients with cancer, HIV, Hepatitis C, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis. Anything that requires a lot of attention either from a paperwork perspective or a lot of communication with patients and providers. Our job is to take the administrative burden off of providers while also developing a personal relationship with the patient. Many of their medications are expensive and require prior authorization. My job is to promote the services of the pharmacy, to be a liaison between the providers and pharmacists.
The bottom line is that our patients should get prescriptions at the best price, as quickly as possible, to know about the side effects and to know how it will help in their recovery.
What was it like to change fields?
As time went on, I knew I wanted to transition to a field that benefited people who were ill, especially cancer because I had family members who died from cancer and family members who have it now. It was an area that hit home for me, and if I could do something to help patients going through that experience, that’s where I wanted to be. I love dealing with people. This is a different way of working with people.
How do you like the job?
It’s a gratifying job. When we know we can make a difference for patients and providers, I can walk away at the end of the day knowing I was able to help people in need. It’s a really good feeling. My team in particular has a level of care and concern that’s above and beyond.
Do you miss the fashion industry?
I still love fashion. I have a passion for fashion, but now it’s just a hobby. I’m in sales, so I still dress up. Now I have a more conservative style but still throw in some fashionable pieces.
Favorite places to shop in Baltimore?
South Moon Under and the boutiques at Green Spring Station. For bargains,Nordstrom Rack and Marshalls.
Advice for other professionals thinking of making a career change?
You can always learn something new. Never put a limit on yourself. If your heart’s there and you’re willing to work hard and you believe in what you’re doing, your dreams are endless.
Believe in what you’re selling or don’t sell it. I won’t go face to face with someone if I can’t stand behind what we’re doing.