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Follow the Yellow Brick Road!

"When you feel pushed, pulled, or guided, follow that yellow brick road" and other quotable wisdom with Dr. Diana Rangaves!

Interview with Dr. Diana Rangaves!

Dr. Diana Rangaves is a pharmacist, philanthropist, and ethics professor turned writer.

An accomplished educator, award-winning teacher, and business professional, she uses her powers for good.

Diana is a foster mom for and lives in California with her dogs and pasture pets, in their forever home.

She is the author of Embrace Your Excellence: A Psychopharmacology Primer and Mirror to the Soul and Escape into Excellence: Building a Foundation for Honest Decision-Making.


The Four Agreements, Don Miguel Ruiz

The Power of Myth, Joseph Campbell

A New Kind of Science, Stephen Wolfram


The Wizard of Oz, Alice in Wonderland, and Carpool Karaoke with Paul McCartney

Questions? Email us at or find us @twopillspodcast on twitter. Our website is

Full transcript:

L: Welcome to Two Pills Podcast. Today we are excited to have Dr. Diana Rangaves with us. She is a pharmacist, philanthropist, and ethics professor turned writer. An accomplished educator, award-winning teacher, and business professional, she uses her powers for good. Diana is a foster mom for and lives in California with her dogs and pasture pets, in their forever home. Welcome Diana, we are so excited to have you. Just to get started, can you please tell us about yourself and your teaching style?

D: Absolutely. Thank you so much for having me here. My teaching strategies are related to reading apprenticeship. In reading apprenticeship, we use interactive keywords and think aloud's, think pair and share, questions, and we map things. Critical thinking skills are embedded in reading apprenticeship. It is so important that once a student leaves school, they have those tools in the real world.

I took that test in high school that tells you what career path to do and mine came back with Health Sciences. My mother suggested that I talk to my neighborhood pharmacist. I talked to her, she pointed me in that direction as well, and I never looked back. I wanted to go to college with a goal and that's how I became a pharmacist!

L: When did you know that you wanted to teach?

D: Right after starting my career in the real world. There seems to be a lack of teaching related to talking to the patient in a way that they could understand. I started with just teaching in my pharmacy. I taught our patients as well as our pharmacy technicians and anyone who was interested. Once my supervisor found out what I was doing, he moved me to other areas within the corporation. That honed more of my teaching skills. People love information that they can use. That is what inspires me to keep improving my ability.

L: Can you speak to how you became involved with ethics and the other unique areas of pharmacy that you have been involved in?

D: I'm easily bored. That's actually why I picked Health Sciences. It's such a vast field. For those of you who are considering a career in Health Sciences, you can change your environment, use your degree for multiple reasons, you are not just boxed in. After teaching for a while, I realized I could be teaching the same few courses forever. After a while, you can't integrate new stuff. I ended up writing two textbooks. They're called “Embrace Your Excellence” and “Escape Into Excellence.” “Escape into Excellence” talks about ethics and how to develop critical-thinking skills. It uses real-life case studies. It takes you from the beginning about what is ethics, what are values, how do we learn our values-all the way full circle to passing and death. How do we stand in silence and honor the people in our lives we care about who are ready to pass? “Embrace Your Excellence” is a psychopharmacology book. It introduces people to mental health, mental health issues, the pharmacology involved, including opiates and hallucinogenics. It adds the holistic piece to it with real life student cases and students writing about their experiences. It helped create a full package that students like. A lot of it was written by students for students.

L: What is something that students have taught you?

D: Students have taught me to be humble. They see when someone is phony or when a system is phony. They are discovering themselves and they remind us not to get caught up in academic snobbery. It's all about passing information to the next generation and learning as we go. It's no longer about us; it's about the people coming after us.

L: If you had a magic wand, What would you change about Health Sciences education?

D: They need to have assistance throughout the educational pathway to teach people how to survive in the workplace, how to survive in a cultural workplace, give them a toolbox of coping skills, and how to adjust and adapt. Core competencies would be adaptation, problem solving, self-reflection, and self-correction. Don't be afraid to say whoops! How can we move forward and correct this?

When I wrote, “Escape into Excellence,” we determined that all author royalties would go back to charity. Education is so important. For both “Embrace Your Excellence” and “Escape into Excellence,” all author royalties go back to Santa Rosa Junior College Foundation to support education. The royalties of my children's values book, “The Adventures of Rosie Posie Papillion,” go to pap haven rescue. It's a heart project and labor of love to impact and give back. We had to learn these skills on the fly when we got out, when we read a book, and here is a textbook that schools can use to further that endeavor.

L: It sounds like you have written at least three books, which is very impressive. Do you have any advice for a faculty member who may be interested in going down the same path?

D: Yes. Start with one sentence. Compile your notes and write that first sentence. If that's all you can do that day, pick it up again the next day and write another sentence. If you write one sentence a day, in a short period you will have a paragraph. The paragraph and turns into multiple paragraphs and then it's a chapter. Don't worry about it making sense now. Don't worry about context or the order-all of that can change. Once you write the ideas down, then it's a matter of assembly. Take information and compile it in a way that is bright and new. Every half-generation needs teaching tools that work for them. They are in a slice of time that is in a different context. Just write!

L: With everything that you are doing now, what is your favorite part of your job?

D: My rescue animals! I have rescue animals and pasture pets. They are my de-stressors and they ground me. I play with them, but I also want them to have the opportunity to be animals. It involves love and work. It includes feeding them, getting hay, cleaning up manure. That's my exercise. I get in the fresh air and exercise.

L: I am also a volunteer for a dog and cat rescue.

D: Yes! It doesn't have to be that. I just encourage people to get out and find something that they're passionate about. Find something that you care about that is outside of your primary income.

L: I do think education is trying to go in that direction with things like co-curricular activities. I like that these activities that support your overall well-being are being valued as an important part of your pharmacy education. You mentioned that teaching tools need to change every half-generation. What is a teaching strategy that has gone well? In addition, what is one that did not go as well?

D: Death by PowerPoint. After a while, I don't care how many animations and cute things you do with it, it's still Death by PowerPoint. I noticed my audience was not engaged and they couldn't touch it, see it, and smell it. I flipped the classroom before it was popular to flip it. Using the reading apprenticeship strategies and capturing the students’ attention with surprise props that brought the material home.

L: Can you give an example of a topic where you use reading apprenticeship?

D: One topic was IV therapy. I brought in empty vials and bags and tubing. I gave them a scenario that included stuffed animals like dinosaurs, poodles, and others. Each doll had a flash card around their neck with a scenario. It Incorporated education, pharmacology, and calculations. Each team had a team leader who read the case. Each team member then took one of the questions And explained the answer to the other students. Each team member had a teaching moment. It gives them confidence, practice speaking, and all in a peer environment that was safe. No one was judging them, no one giving them a certain number of points, and it was a very relaxed environment. They were able to do every sensory experience within that one exercise. It is applicable to any topic.

L: I like that it includes active learning and a safe to fail environment. If you could go back, what insight about being a faculty member do you have now that you wish you had on your first day?

D: There is a truism that says that you are only supposed to know what you are supposed to know at the time that you are supposed to know it. If I had known then what I know now, I probably would have been scared and not done it. In that time, you develop as a person, core values, all of Maslow's pyramid. Now, you are equipped to deal with it. Now you have the skill set and the wherewithal to see the bigger picture. Don’t ever be afraid to step into the unknown. Fear is the worst reason in the world to do something and to not do something. When I started teaching and got the one class, everyone was very supportive. It was the older patients who had already gone down that path, who were very encouraging to a young pharmacist. Speaking to my younger self, I would say, “just do it.” There's no such thing as failure. Fear is False Evidence Appearing Real. You learn something from that experience and build on the next one.

L: Do you have any resources, books, or podcast that you would recommend someone who is starting out on this journey or on their way?

D: There were several that impacted me and provided guidance when I needed it. The first one is “The Four Agreements.” I wrote down “The Four Agreements” on flashcards and kept them in my wallet. Now, you can probably just keep it on Evernote on your phone! Whenever I needed some inspiration or encouragement, I just reread “The Four Agreements.” The next one is “The Power of Myth.” It was quite influential. It is about the hero's journey. It opens your eyes and your mind to a different awareness that everyone is traveling through this cosmos with the same trials and tribulations. It just opens your mind a bit. The other one that impacted me as a child that I've never forgotten is “The Wizard of Oz” and “Alice in Wonderland.” They are great coping tools when it appears that things are not going well. The one I read most recently was “A New Kind of Science.” It was written 18 years ago. It impacted then and it still has an impact now. It's a huge book; You can probably get it at your local library. That one tied together all of the sciences. It is an integrative work and includes molecules and neurotransmitters. You just pull from it what makes sense to you.

L: Who inspires you and gives you your ideas?

D: Everyone who has come before me and after me who persist. Those are the stories of persistence that are Important. We're all storytellers. Each of us has a story. That’s our common humanity. I think it's up to us to learn, listen, and discern truth from falsehood. And just persist. You put one foot in front of the other.

I recently watched carpool karaoke with Paul McCartney and he mentioned that looking back it was such a journey. They persisted. The host became very emotional about his grandfather. He said he wished his grandfather were here. Paul McCartney very calmly and seriously said, “he is.” When you are thinking about the people you care about, they’re with you. That is my biggest message. Persistence and you're not alone.

L: What is your overall prescription for a life, success, and happiness?

D: When you feel pushed, pulled, or guided, follow that yellow brick road.

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