Published on March 30, 2024 at 10:15 a.m. by Alison Ingle  
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When Elizabeth (Williford) Avery '73  began her pharmacy career more than 50 years ago, prescription labels and patient profiles were either handwritten or created with a typewriter. She always wanted to study medicine, and pharmacy offers many opportunities. As a student, Avery was a member of the Ro Chi Pharmacy Honor Society and recipient of the Ethel J. Heath and Merck Award and graduated cum laude from Samford University's McWhorter School of Pharmacy. She completed her internship at Gibson Pharmacy, a fast-paced chain store located in Dothan, Alabama. However, all the prescription-related tasks were done manually, including hand-stamping the prescription numbers and pulling the original refill records. 

In 1974, Avery became a licensed pharmacist and joined Southeast Alabama Medical Center (SAMC) the following year, one of two hospitals in Dothan. She had to fill in at the morgue next door to take notes if the pathologist's assistant was unavailable, and the hospital's system was also manual. Eventually, the hospital progressed to a 24-hour cart fill system and, as the years passed, moved into a computerized system and IV admixture program. 

Approximately 20 years later, Avery was asked to oversee the project when the hospital needed to set up an operating room pharmacy for anesthesia. She served in this role for the rest of her time at SAMC, her favorite part of her extensive hospital career. After almost 40 years, Avery retired from the hospital in 2013. However, she was far from done. 

Later that year, Avery began working for Dalton Pharmacy in her hometown of Slocomb, Alabama. Dalton's is a family-owned pharmacy established more than 100 years ago in 1903. Avery recalls fond memories of visiting the store when she was younger to get medications, milkshakes and fountain drinks. After some years, she tapered her hours at the pharmacy and now works two days a month. "Working with hometown people at Dalton's has been the most rewarding experience of my pharmacy career," Avery said. 

Contemplating her views on the industry she loves, Avery said, " One of the biggest changes and challenges I have seen in my career is the insurance impact on limiting drug choices to patients. Sadly, this is a daily battle.”  

Semi-retirement did not slow Avery down. She embarked on a new journey in 2019 and is now an avid hiker. In March 2024, Avery telephoned from Great Smoky Mountains National Park, having just completed another 15-mile hike. The park boasts over 800 miles of hiking trails, and she aims is to complete them all before her 75th birthday in 2025. She has roughly 300 miles left to hike. 

Avery has always been goal driven. She and her two daughters were named valedictorians at Slocomb High School. Avery has 16 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren, which keeps her busy when she is not working at the pharmacy or blazing the trails. Because of her love of faith, family and service to her community, she is a perfect role model for future pharmacists. 

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.