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Mental Health Awareness Month: A Dive into the Life of a Psychiatric Pharmacist

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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 Mark Schneiderhan, PharmD!

Dr. Schneiderhan is an Associate Professor of Pharmacy Practice and Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Minnesota. The following is a look into Mark’s career path working as a psychiatric pharmacist and his collaborative work approach.

From what institution did you earn your professional pharmacy degree (e.g., Pharm.D.)?

University of Kentucky College of Pharmacy

Please describe your novel practice setting. What makes your career path unique?

I work as a board-certified psychiatric pharmacist (BCPP). I’ve been providing psychiatric pharmacy consultations and teaching since 1994.

I provide comprehensive medication management (CMM) services at the Human Development Center in Duluth, MN. I practice under a collaborative medication prescribing agreement with psychiatrists and advanced nurse practitioners in mental healthcare.

My clinical duties include:

  • Diagnostic assessment of psychiatric and substance use disorders
  • Medication prescribing under a collaborative practice agreement
  • Consultative services to primary care providers

I also currently provide education and professional clinical training in mental health as an associate professor. My course topic areas include:

  • Schizophrenia
  • Childhood disorders
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Substance use disorders

What led you to this career path? What steps did you take?

I was inspired to pursue this career path by a faculty mentor named Dr. Robert Littrell, PharmD. I had the opportunity to do clerkship rotations under him at the University of Kentucky.

What does a typical workday look like for you?

I typically work over 40 hours per week. I provide patient care Mondays, Wednesdays, and every other Thursday. On Tuesdays and Fridays, you’ll find me either teaching or participating in committee work at the University of Minnesota College of Pharmacy.

I currently have two advanced practice pharmacy experiential (APPE) students and two introductory practice pharmacy experiential (IPPE) students seeing patients and working on a quality assurance project. So, part of my work week includes overseeing their work.

Describe the most exciting or rewarding aspect of your novel practice role.

The most rewarding aspect of my role is developing and nurturing therapeutic relationships with my clients/patients. I’m also very grateful for my partnership with care teams, including medical/mental health provider colleagues and students.

Describe the most challenging aspect of your role.

The most challenging aspect of my role is balancing busy work weeks with family time. Family is my priority, but with a hectic work schedule, this can be difficult.

How can someone learn more about this unique practice setting and the career opportunities it presents for pharmacists?

I’d recommend checking out the College of Psychiatric and Neurologic Pharmacists website and getting involved with the organization. They have a ton of valuable resources about this unique practice setting.

What advice would you give to a current student pharmacist who is interested in pursuing a similar type of practice role in the future?

I’d recommend talking to providers who work in a specific area of interest. People love to talk about what they do, and this will provide a ton of great insight into the field!

What general advice would you give to a high school or college student who is interested in pursuing a pharmacy career?

If you enjoy chemistry, biology, medicine, and patient healthcare, the pharmacy profession has many opportunities that may surprise students. I’d suggest that they find and talk to pharmacists working in pharmacies, clinics, hospitals, and more to get a feel for the options available to them.

Share a brief story about a time you had a positive impact on a patient, population, or community in your role as a pharmacist.

Once I was working with a client who was on multiple medications and had slurred speech and memory difficulties that seemed to be related to one of their medications. I discussed discontinuing the medication with the patient’s prescriber. After discontinuing the medication, the patient reported back excited that their speech and memory dramatically improved. It was exciting to see that the recommendation I made improved the patient’s quality of life!

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