On God's Shoulders
For Adrian Gonzales, inspiration led to his career, and prayer set it in motion.
Adrian – who serves as System Pharmacy Services Executive for Adventist Health – was inspired by his relationship with his grandmother, Dolores, to pursue the medical field. She suffered from diabetes, breast cancer, and other medical conditions, and Adrian spent a lot of his childhood helping care for her medical needs while making lasting memories with her.
“I was the one that always went to her doctor's appointments,” he recalls. “The pharmacists knew me at Long’s Drugs, and I would be the one to help pick them up and understand the instructions. I was very much her home pharmacist, doctor, and nurse.”
Adrian remembers numerous outings with his grandmother for pancake breakfasts and ice cream. “Later on in life, I realized, ‘Oh, those nice moments were probably not good for her diabetes,” he says with a laugh.
Growing up in the southern San Joaquin Valley in the outskirts of Bakersfield, Adrian would be the first generation in his family to go to college. When he was considering becoming a physician, his high school guidance counselor presented the option of a career in pharmacy.
“He really put extra effort to really see that I was successful,” Adrian says. “I put in a lot of work and gave up my social life in high school applying to scholarships.”
The efforts paid off. Offer letters came in the spring, and campus visits began. San Joaquin Community Hospital – now Adventist Health Bakersfield – extended him a scholarship. A confluence of events about which Adrian carefully considered and prayed ultimately led to his decision about where to go academically and professionally.
While planning to attend one recruitment event at University of the Pacific (UOP), Adrian felt a tug on his heart to read the Bible. In it, he read Psalm 34, and there he found confirmation for the decision he wrote in the margin of his Bible that day. Adrian’ grandmother died the same day he made the decision to enroll at UOP. Through his faith, he found peace in this defining turn of events.
“I think that that weekend was just a very special moment,” Adrian shares. “God became very real to me, saying he had plans for me for my future, for college, and this career.”
As Adrian navigated his studies and then his early career, growth came knocking. “My local director saw something in me that I didn't see myself,” he shares.
After completing his clinical practice residency at Kern Medical Center, Adrian worked there for three years before joining San Joaquin Community Hospital as Pharmacy Clinical Coordinator.
“I ended up building programs and going into leadership,” he recalls. “I didn't really seek it, but God opened up those doors.”
Since then, Adrian has served with Adventist Health overseeing change, growth, and improvements in a progression of roles that ultimately moved him and his family from Kern County to Roseville. While the decision to move wasn’t easy, he finds purpose in the daily opportunities he finds in his work to advocate for others.
“As health system pharmacists, our primary role is interpret everything that's going on and make sure that [what we do is] in the best interest of the communities that we serve and the organization, and to ensure that we're doing the right thing for our mission,” Adrian says. “At Adventist Health, we have been part of mobile clinics, we've been part of building new infusion centers, building new hospitals, and helping create new communities."
From helping his grandmother to helping countless patients, Adrian says he will continue to seek God’s will for life’s journey.
“The word picture that I find helpful is being a little kid on his parent’s shoulders,” he says. “When I'm on God's shoulders, that is God's will, and he will take me to where I need to be in life.”