Meet Rita Shane, chief pharmacy officer at Cedars-Sinai!
Rita started her career at Cedars-Sinai in 1978 as a pharmacist in Pediatrics. She’s steadily advanced through the Pharmacy Department, and more than 40 years later remains committed to making medication safe for patients.
“I think it’s important to balance being a professional with being an individual.”
She recently co-authored legislation (which has since become a law) requiring hospital pharmacists throughout California to update medication lists for high-risk patients when they check in and again when they go home.
We sat down with Rita, a fashion icon around the hospital, to learn more about what motivates her.
How did you decide to become a pharmacist?
Rita Shane: I planned out my life goals when I was 16—I knew I wanted a career and a family, and my mentor in middle school suggested I pursue a career in science or math.
I ruled out various medical careers until I landed on pharmacy, which fascinated me. I love to know how drugs work in people.
How did you end up at Cedars-Sinai?
RS: I’m from Los Angeles. My parents were both Holocaust survivors, and I’m an only child. They didn’t want me going far. I went to Fairfax High School, got my undergraduate degree at UCLA, and my doctorate at USC. I started at Cedars-Sinai right out of school.
What inspired you to co-author the medication safety bill?
RS: Twenty years ago, my dad was hospitalized for brain surgery, and when he was transferred to another facility, they inadvertently took him off an important drug.
The change in medication agitated him, so he ended up in restraints and developed dangerous injuries. Had his medication history been done correctly, this wouldn’t have happened. I thought “We’ve got to fix this problem. This is a mess.”
You’re known for your sense of style as well as your leadership. What does that mean to you?
RS: I think it’s important to balance being a professional with being an individual.
My father was a clotheshorse, and my mother and her sisters were dressmakers. My mother taught me to be an individual.
I share this with my students now: Make yourself stand out.
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How do you de-stress?
RS: I love shopping as a de-stressor. I used to shop with my mother on weekends and now I get to go with my daughter sometimes.
Every time I travel internationally for speaking engagements, I trip over something to shop for. I just brought back 4 pairs of boots from pop-up markets in Spain.
What’s your motto?
RS: Act like a nerd, look like a princess.
Read more Faces of Cedars-Sinai.