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Meet the Pharmacy Doctors Who Started a Podcast to Speak Openly about Physical and Mental Health


3 friends TALK is a weekly podcast featuring fun and authentic healthcare conversations, with a twist. From physical and mental health to creativity and culture, the show delivers unique stories and useful insights. To tune in and listen to their podcast, visit https://3friendstalk.com/. 

Dr. Courtney Villere Jones, PharmD, is a global leader in the Managed Care Pharmacy Industry. With over 15 years of clinical pharmacy experience, Dr. Courtney is passionate about improving her patients’ overall health and well-being. 

Dr. Leah J. Miller is a clinical pharmacist with more than 15 years of experience in the field of specialty pharmacy services. Upon completion of her Doctor of Pharmacy degree from Xavier University College of Pharmacy in New Orleans, LA, Dr. Leah returned to Memphis, TN to serve in her hometown community. She has been an integral team member at one of the country’s first specialty pharmacies, serving in capacities such as staff fulfillment pharmacist, drug file pharmacist, and pharma purchasing and contracts pharmacist. Dr. Leah currently works within the supply chain division of one of the country’s largest home delivery pharmacies, as the only specialty pharmacist within that department. She manages daily drug file activities and is one of the pharmacist leads for new drug add process and implementation. 

Dr. Sylvia Perry is a registered pharmacist, speaker, author, and owner/lead strategist of PharmD Consultants of Texas, where she helps pharmacy owners to increase their profits, enhance their services, and expand their reach. With her Amazon best-selling book, “20 Pharmacy Facts and Hacks You Should Know,” Dr. Sylvia bridges the gap between patients, caregivers, and healthcare professionals by making medical terminology and practices easier to understand. Dr. Sylvia earned her Doctor of Pharmacy degree from the renowned Xavier University of Louisiana. After becoming licensed in the states of Georgia and Texas, she went on to obtain additional certifications in pharmacy immunizations and human resources management.


Janet: What is your SwagHer? 

Dr. Courtney: My SwagHer is all about charisma! Leading with a charm that inspires others defines it perfectly. 

Dr. Leah: My SwagHer is definitely first noticed in my smile. My smile makes you feel welcomed and comfortable and lets you know that I have your back. 

Dr. Sylvia: My swagHer is to lead with love and to help my community while also practicing self-care. I’m at the stage in life where I know you cannot pour from an empty cup.

Janet: Even over the podcasts, the camaraderie between the three of you is immediately noticed. Exactly how long have you been friends? 

Dr. Courtney, Dr. Leah, and Dr. Sylvia: We all met in the dorm during our freshman year of college at Xavier University of Louisiana. We lived on the same floor, and then during our third year of college, we entered Xavier’s College of Pharmacy, and our bond grew stronger over long nights of studying and partying. #KD3rdfloor 

Janet: What made you all decide to be a pharmacist? 

Dr. Courtney: I was a Junior in high school when a Xavier University College of Pharmacy representative presented the PharmD program to my class during career day. Everything said during the presentation described exactly what I had envisioned as my perfect career. I wanted to be a doctor but did not want to go to medical school. I wanted to help cure sick patients. I wanted to study medications and how they worked. I wanted to make a lot of money. Pharmacy was the choice for me! 

Dr. Leah: I always wanted to grow up to work in healthcare and become a doctor. At first, I wanted to be a pediatrician, and like my pediatrician, I wanted to attend Xavier University in New Orleans, Louisiana. It wasn’t until I learned at a career fair in high school that pharmacists are doctors too! My whole career path was redirected once I was introduced to the field of pharmacy and realizing that Xavier had a College of Pharmacy on its campus. Plus, pharmacists finished professional school in 6 years TOTAL. I was sold… still working within healthcare, providing a service to my community, and becoming a doctor in less time was what did it for me. 

Dr. Sylvia: For me, it happened by happenstance. I went to Xavier wanting to be a dentist. I wasn’t a child who went to the pharmacy often, so I thought it was a trade like dry cleaning. To a kid, the pharmacy and dry cleaning counters look similar. Once I realized it was a medical profession and with guidance from my father and mentor, I applied to pharmacy school. I consider going to pharmacy school the best decision I have ever made, second to going to Xavier University. We talk about the full story on episode 5 of our podcast. 

Janet: What is the best part of your career? 

Dr. Courtney: The best part of my career is that I get to help patients nationwide and not just one small community at a time. I currently lead a team of over 300 pharmacists and technicians to expand my reach and share my knowledge, which impacts healthcare. 

Dr. Leah: Even though I work in the background, my role is critical to ensuring that patients who are receiving their specialty medications through mail order obtain cost-efficient options. Also, this includes helping these patients get their shipments safely, quickly, and packaged within manufacturer shipping parameters. 

Dr. Sylvia: I get to help people take control of their health and bodies every day. It’s rewarding, and I love that pharmacists are so accessible. Everyone should have a relationship with their pharmacist. I encourage you to introduce yourself to your pharmacist and make sure that they are aware of any allergies or conditions you may have. 

Janet: What do you find most frustrating about your job? 

Dr. Courtney: The most frustrating part about my job is having to make changes at a moment’s notice. The world we live in is constantly changing, and I must be ready to implement quick changes to keep up with the breaking news on healthcare updates with such a large team. 

Dr. Leah: Circumstances that I can’t control are usually what frustrates me the most. Working in a mail-order pharmacy, so many factors contribute to patients not receiving their medications in a timely manner. If a hurricane is expected next week, that

impacts a certain region of patient orders. Disaster plans are in place, and planning is done to eliminate lapses in treatment, but there are always some situations that you have to react to instead of making a proactive decision. 

Dr. Sylvia: COVID changed the pharmacy profession in so many ways. It is hard to address all the needs of your patients, especially early on when we did not know how to treat patients with COVID. 

Janet: Being that you all are highly intelligent AA women in this particular field, have you experienced racism, and how did you deal with it? 

Dr. Courtney: Yes, I have experienced racism in the pharmacy from a patient. I took the opportunity to address the comment. I explained how I was offended by the comment and walked away. I DO NOT tolerate any form of disrespect. 

Dr. Leah: Honestly, for me, racism hasn’t been a big issue in my work environment. I work in a very diverse workplace, with many AA women (pharmacists) in leadership roles. I’ve probably dealt with ageism more than anything. I became a licensed pharmacist at age 23, so there were many times that my intelligence and work ethic were disregarded because I was and looked so young (and tender!) 

Dr. Sylvia: Yes, I have experienced racism and sexism in this profession. I was once called the N-word. All I can say is no one should entertain this type of behavior, and I am no exception. There are pharmacies on every corner. Bye! 

Janet: There is a lot of politics surrounding pharmaceutical companies and the government. How do you find balance in that? Like, how do you separate that from your love for what you do? 

Dr. Courtney: I don’t separate it. Patient care is the prize. If there is a concern that hinders patient care, I speak on it through various platforms through my employer or national pharmacy organizations. Yes, it can be frustrating, but it keeps the momentum for wanting to make changes for better healthcare. 

Dr. Leah: I work for a mail-order pharmacy within a pharmacy benefits management organization, so you probably feel I see the best (and worse) of both worlds. The bottom line for me is positive patient outcomes and care. We all do our part to ensure that at the end of the day, each patient is made whole by receiving their medication order safely and


Dr. Sylvia: I’m just here, so I don’t get fined. Lol, just kidding. I have to keep the main thing the main thing. I know I am here to serve people, and sometimes it’s on their worst day. Whether I am consulting or working with patients directly, I focus on the patient and do my best to address their needs and make sure everything is understood. 

Janet: What medications do you NOT recommend people take, and why or is that something you can share? 

Dr. Courtney: I recommend people not to take medications that don’t belong to them! Prescription medications are prescribed to that specific patient diagnosed with the condition that needs treatment. Everyone is different. What’s good for one person may not be good for the next. 

Dr. Leah: What she said… period! 

Dr. Sylvia: I agree with Dr. Courtney. Also, all medications can have side effects. I talk about weighing the benefits and risks of each medication in my book 20 Pharmacy Facts and Hacks You Should Know. 

Janet: If any, what are some disadvantages of your job? 

Dr. Courtney: The disadvantages to my job is that I don’t get to see patients face to face as often anymore. My role is primarily behind the scenes creating healthcare initiatives to send through other pharmacists to implement into the community. 

Dr. Leah: I feel that for pharmacy in general, burnout can happen quickly if you pick this career based solely on making tons of money. The money may come, but you have to love what you do day in and day out. That’s why it’s so important to pick a career within the field of pharmacy that suits your needs and gives you peace of mind when you walk in the door after a long day. That career might not be the typical retail or community pharmacist that you see. 

Dr. Sylvia: I think the pharmacy industry and healthcare, in general, is struggling with the same thing everyone else is struggling with during the pandemic, staffing. It is hard to do our jobs when there are staffing concerns, and that’s frustrating even when you work in non-traditional pharmacy roles like we do. 

Janet: If you had the AA community’s ear, what would you like them to know?

Dr. Courtney: There is a disconnect between the AA community and health care professionals, which I believe to stem from history. I encourage those who are skeptical to seek help from healthcare professionals they can trust. Do your research. It’s ok to get a 2nd or 3rd opinion. There are healthcare professionals out there, like me, who have your best interest at heart. 

Dr. Leah: The AA community should know that having a knowledgeable advocate is one of the most important choices to make when it comes to their healthcare. WebMD is cool and all, but oftentimes, you need professional advice with a personal touch. If there’s one thing about pharmacists, most absolutely love giving advice and helping you research the next steps for your care plan. 

Dr. Sylvia: We are a part of the AA community, and we are here to help you, not hurt you, period. Finding the right healthcare team can require some dating, but don’t give up. Use your local pharmacist as a resource, and yes, we will answer your call after 8 pm. 

Janet: If someone was trying to decide whether to pursue being a pharmacist as their career choice, what would you say to them to try to convince them? 

Dr. Courtney: I would say go for it!!! Do you like chemistry? Are you fascinated with how drugs work? Do you want the flexibility to either work for a company or open your own pharmacy? Then it’s a no-brainer! 

Dr. Leah: I would definitely recommend the field of pharmacy as a career choice. I’d tell them to do their research early on and not limit themselves to only retail or hospital pharmacy. There are some creative niches within the pharmacy world. For example, I have worked from home for over five years (well before the pandemic). Yes… pharmacists can work from home while having weekends and holidays off. 

Dr. Sylvia: Pharmacy requires six years of school (two years of prerequisite work and four years of pharmacy school), and then you have your Doctor of Pharmacy degree. Most other Doctor-level degrees require a Bachelor’s degree before you can start the doctoral program. Also, I love the flexibility in the profession. Retail pharmacy is not for everyone, and luckily, there are so many other ways you can practice, including consulting and nuclear pharmacy. You can help shape public policy, and there are so many other options. 

Janet: What was the most challenging thing about attending pharmacy school? 

Dr. Courtney: The most challenging thing about pharmacy school was managing a tough schedule at such a young age. I was very young during pharmacy school. I wanted to go out to parties at 20 and 21 years old, but I had a strict school schedule. I had to choose the school to work hard then so I could play later, after graduation! 

Dr. Leah: Definitely time management for me, and creating better study habits. I’m a procrastinator, and in high school, I rarely studied days before a test. I had to begin studying for an exam weeks in advance in pharmacy school, and I learned the importance of taking very detailed notes. Also, self-study was not the most efficient manner to study. Working in groups, comparing notes, and helping each other helped me tremendously. 

Dr. Sylvia: Pharmacy school is hard, especially in the second year. I went to Montessori school growing up and then a performing arts high school. In those settings learning the why and being hands-on was always important. However, in pharmacy school, there are a lot of things you have to memorize, like the brand name and generic name of the top hundred drugs on the market. I struggled with things like this until I got a job in a pharmacy. 

Janet: For the past year and a half, we’ve dealt with this awful pandemic. What are your thoughts about how the pandemic is being handled? What are your thoughts regarding the vaccination and medications to treat those with severe illnesses from COVID? Lastly, what are your thoughts in terms of how COVID has impacted the AA community? 

Dr. Courtney: I think the pandemic could be handled under more strict guidelines because there are some who are not taking the conditions as seriously as others. My family and I are vaccinated, and I encourage all those who are eligible to take the vaccine to do so. I encourage masks and sanitizing hands at this time. COVID has impacted all communities; however, I have more skeptical feedback about the vaccine from the AA community because of the distrust history has created between the AA community and healthcare professionals. I try to keep educating the AA community in my reach so that they too can decide whether to vaccinate from a source they can trust. 

Dr. Leah: I’ll touch on the part about how the pandemic is being handled. I’m very frustrated not only from a healthcare perspective, but as a parent. Luckily my son made the informed decision to want to be vaccinated, and he still continues to wear his mask in public, but there are so many school-age children who aren’t eligible yet to receive the vaccine. My state’s governor has passed an executive order to allow citizens to bypass local health departments and school system mask mandates. This is so counterproductive to me. 2020 was hard enough on families in general, but knowing our children are being sent back into environments where their health and safety is not a priority is very disheartening. 

Dr. Sylvia: This pandemic has been hard in so many ways. This novel, never seen before, Corona Virus, has changed the world in countless ways. I am amazed that in this short time period, we have effective treatments for COVID 19, like monoclonal antibodies. Also, special shout out to Congressional Representative Kaite Porter for securing free COVID testing for anyone and Senator Tina Smith for securing free treatment to anyone with COVID.

 “My bill, the COVID-19 Treatment Coverage Act, will help protect Americans from COVID-19 expenses so that they can get the care they need without worrying about how they are going to afford it.” -Tina Smith. 

I encourage everyone to find out which hospital and healthcare centers in your area have monoclonal antibodies and seek treatment sooner than later if you are positive for the virus. Also, do everything you can to protect yourself, vaccinate, mask and practice social distancing. We will get through this! 

Janet: You’ve been broadcasting the “3 friends Talk” podcast since 2019, correct? You’ve covered lots of different topics with various distinguished guests. Is there someone that you haven’t had on your podcast that you would like to have as a guest? 

Dr. Courtney: My dream guest would be Michelle Obama! One Day!!! 

Dr. Leah: I love Issa Rae’s vibe… she’s hilarious and so talented. I think that would be a dope show. She’d fit right in as a 4th friend…

Dr. Sylvia: What a great question! We’ve interview some amazing guests. I’d love to interview Meg Thee Stallion, a fellow Texas girl. I already love her creativity, and she has overcome so much and has stayed true to herself all while getting her degree! She’s the new prototype! I’d also love to interview Patti LaBelle and Sonia Sotomayor. 

Also, we are excited to connect with our friends in new ways. We are hosting our first live podcast at The Chocolate Brunch in Dallas, TX, on August 29th. It’s going to be so much fun in a safe way, of course. All the details and tickets are at www.thechocolatebrunch.com. 

Janet: What do y’all do in your spare time? How do you manage the work-life balance? 

Dr. Courtney: I love to dance in my spare time! I have had 12 wonderful years of professional dance training during high school. At the age of 40, I am still on a Lady’s competitive dance team in Atlanta, GA. I have learned to shut off the computer, make time for family, and then incorporate my dance time (me time) at least once a week to recharge. 

Dr. Leah: I’m an extroverted introvert. I love spending time at home with family, but friends and fun are definitely incorporated into my outings when necessary. 

Dr. Sylvia: Selfcare is a serious matter for 3 friends TALK. We all focus on working out, and we take breaks away from the podcast to do things that rejuvenate us. I’m not a dancer like Dr. Courtney, but I’m the best singer of the group! I love learning new music and reading about new topics. I get so inspired by learning new things and seeing the world in different ways. I am a creative at my core.

Janet: Among the 3 of you, who’s the most outspoken? 

Dr. Courtney: I think we all have our moments, but it’s ME!! 

Dr. Leah: No argument there from me…. I wholeheartedly agree. 

Dr. Sylvia: And the church said AMEN to Dr. Courtney! 

Janet: Who’s the laid-back one in the group? 

Dr. Courtney: That’s easy; Leah is so chill. 

Dr. Leah: What do the young folks say… IYKYK… 

Dr. Sylvia: I agree it’s Dr. Leah. 

Janet: Let’s talk about some fun facts about each of you: In listening to one of your podcast episodes, I heard where Dr. Courtney plays the piano, Dr. Leah owns a travel agency called “Have Time, Let’s Travel” and is a licensed bartender (I think Dr. Leah referred to it as a “libationist”), and Dr. Sylvia sings and plays the violin. Are you all still doing this, and if so, how can someone find your businesses or reach out to you to book you? 

Dr. Courtney: I played the piano for 12 years in high school! Unfortunately, the piano did not keep my interest. I did, however, stick to dance. I am currently on a competition dance team in Atlanta, GA. There are 3 to 4 shows a year where you can catch me on stage. 

Dr. Leah: Oh yes, I love to travel and sip on a tasty libation. I opened my home-based travel business in 2014 because planning travel is very interesting and so much fun for me. I am still a licensed libationist, creating craft cocktails for friends, and occasionally working private events. My clients keep coming back and referring me to others, so I must be doing something right! For travel, I can be reached on my website www.havetimeletstravel.com or at havetimeletstravel@gmail.com. To request me to liven your libation I can be reached at leahthelibationist@gmail.com. 

Dr. Syiva: Yes, I still love to sing, but I gave my violin away as soon as I graduated from high school. I’m glad I had so many years with the violin, but at a certain point, she wasn’t giving what she was supposed to give anymore. Currently, I love speaking, podcasting and I became an author in 2018. The best way to connect with me is by checking out my website www.drsylviaperry.com. 

Janet: I know all of you love to travel. Is there somewhere you’d like to go that you haven’t been to? 

Dr. Courtney: My favorite holiday is Carnival, but I have yet to attend Carnival with the girls in Trinidad and Tobago. That’s my next trip. Then, it’s off to the Maldives with my hubby. 

Dr. Leah: I’m definitely looking forward to a few more mother/son trips before my son heads off to college. I plan to take him on an African riverboat cruise and safari in 2023, but he’s requested another Disney Cruise (possibly to Bermuda or Panama) before that. 

Dr. Sylvia: I haven’t been to The Continent, I am headed to Kenya next year, and I’m so excited!

Janet: Are you currently working on any projects in terms of community outreach? 

Dr. Courtney: Yes, I am working with a local girls’ group in New Orleans to empower young black women. I also work on initiatives organized through various organizations; Jack and Jill of America, Inc. and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., to name a few. 

Dr. Leah: I mentor a fourth-year pharmacy student who will graduate from our illustrious Xavier University College of Pharmacy. I’m an active member of Beta Epsilon Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. in Memphis, TN, where I’ve worked with the young ladies of TIC (Teenage Improvement Club). I also serve on several boards at my son’s school and perform community service with him whenever I’m available to assist. 

Dr. Sylvia: I work in the greater Dallas community with my sorority, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. I serve on the Storks Nest Charity Fund of Dallas Board, where we equip young mothers with the tools to have healthy pregnancies and children. I also mentor several girls and college students.

Janet: What are your future aspirations, or do you feel that you’re where you want to be?

Dr. Courtney: I aspire to climb the corporate ladder in my company to VP. Also, I hope our podcast grows to a National level to educate the community and make strides to eradicate healthcare disparities. 

Dr. Leah: I’m definitely content in my professional career, but I’m always willing to learn new things and grow individually to help my team as needed. I’m loving the journey I’m taking with Dr. Courtney and Dr. Sylvia through the podcast, and I look forward to bigger and better platforms to reach more ladies that look just like us. 

Janet: Besides the podcast, how can we keep up with each of you? 

Dr. Courtney: Facebook, Linked In, Instagram @doccvjones 

Dr. Sylvia: Connect with me at www.drsylviaperry.com 


Connect with the Doctors below: 

Website: www.3friendsTALK.com 

Instagram: @3friendstalk 

Facebook: 3friendsTALK 


Interview done by: Janet Downs 

Janet Downs is an instructor with over 20 years of experience, having worked with Fortune 500 companies and non-profit organizations. She volunteers and is a resource for the homeless community and is working towards starting her own non-profit. She’s passionate about mental health and seeks to bring more awareness to the black community. She is active in church ministry, a writer, and loves music, hiking, and travel. 



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