There are so many different types of careers within the field of pharmacy—from research and drug development to pharmacy informatics! To highlight some of the more unique career settings in the industry, we’re introducing a new page on our website—Novel Pharmacy Practice Settings—where you can explore these unique career pathways.
In addition to learning more about unique pathways on our new webpage, we’ll also be featuring pharmacists who work in these unique settings on our blog. Today we’re excited to spotlight Samuel Hubler, PharmD, MSHCA, BCGP!
Dr. Hubler is the Chief of Pharmacy for the Department of Health, Muskogee (Creek) Nation. The following is a look into how Samuel got into government service and how his role as a United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps Officer led him to this opportunity.
From what institution did you earn your professional pharmacy degree (e.g., Pharm.D.)?
Please describe your novel practice setting. What makes your career path unique?
My practice setting is the perfect mix of clinical, ambulatory, and community pharmacy. I currently work at a Native American Tribal site where my patients can receive quality care without incurring any personal costs. We are embedded into a clinic that provides primary care, pediatrics, women’s health, dental, radiology, orthopedics, pain management, and diabetes care. Our pharmacy provides medication, clinical consults, and anticoagulation services.
My career path is unique because I am a United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps Officer assigned to the Indian Health Service. As a uniformed service member, I enjoy the same benefits and retirement as my counterparts in the U.S. Military, but I get to work in the community setting. It’s the perfect scenario for me and my family.
What led you to this career path? What steps did you take?
I was awarded a scholarship from the U.S. Air Force Health Professions Scholarship Program (HPSP) during my third year of pharmacy school. The scholarship paid for tuition, books, and other fees along with a stipend during my third and fourth years.
Then, I was commissioned as a second lieutenant, and upon graduation, I entered active duty as a captain. I served for three years as a pharmacist at Buckley AFB in Colorado. After my service obligation, I wanted to continue serving in uniform. So, I looked into the possibility of transferring to the USPHS. A mentor and former preceptor of mine helped me complete the process, and I was able to transition seamlessly.
What does a typical workday look like for you?
My day is never the same! Some days I spend the entire day in the pharmacy, and other days I may only go into the pharmacy for a few minutes.
I typically work Monday through Friday from 0800 to 1700 (8AM to 5PM in non-military time). I start my day by reviewing and processing prescriptions and then meet with my anticoagulation patients. Our health system has collaborative practice agreements that allow us to manage our patients’ medication regimens. We order labs, prescribe medication, and provide follow-up to those patients.
In addition to working with patients, I also participate in pharmacy and therapeutics committee meetings, quality meetings, and strategic planning.
Describe the most exciting or rewarding aspect of your novel practice role.
The most exciting and rewarding aspect of my practice is getting the opportunity to interact directly with my patients. It’s great to put into practice the things I learned in school.
I also love sharing my experiences with my students on rotation. The students enjoy the opportunity to provide clinical consults and provide patient care on a regular basis.
Describe the most challenging aspect of your role.
The most challenging aspect of my job has been balancing the demands of the various projects and programs I’m involved with. Each program is important and takes a portion of time, and sometimes they have to be put aside, so that patient care is not interrupted. My patients come first!
How can someone learn more about this unique practice setting and the career opportunities it presents for pharmacists?
The Indian Health Service (IGH) allows pharmacists to work in urban areas as well as very rural locations. Our practice sites can be found throughout Alaska, the Southwest, the Midwest, and the East Coast. Our patients are wonderful people to work with, and it’s very rewarding serving the Alaska Native / American Indian population.
To learn more, I’d suggest researching the Indian Health Service. There is a ton of valuable information on the IHS website!
What advice would you give to a current student pharmacist who is interested in pursuing a similar type of practice role in the future?
It’s a very rewarding opportunity to serve your country and an underserved population. If you’re interested in pursuing a similar career, I’d recommend you try to complete a junior commissioned officer student training and extern program (JRCOSTEP) as a first-year pharmacy student. Then, I’d recommend a senior commissioned officer student training and extern program (SRCOSTEP) as a third-year pharmacy student. The other option would be to apply for a residency with the IHS.
What general advice would you give to a high school or college student who is interested in pursuing a pharmacy career?
Pharmacy is a great healthcare career because you can work in so many different settings. You can be as hands-on with patient care as you would like or work in administration. I’ve done both! There are tons of possibilities to match your skills and interests.
Share a brief story about a time you had a positive impact on a patient, population, or community in your role as a pharmacist.
I’ve had the opportunity to be one of the vaccine coordinators for the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. We’ve been able to procure the ultra-cold freezers and medical tents necessary to provide the COVID-19 vaccine to our patients. Our efforts have proven to be quite successful in decreasing the infection rate among our tribal citizens and community. Pharmacists are uniquely qualified in drug knowledge, logistics, and providing patient care to provide such a service.