“How can I make the biggest difference in the lives of others? How can I help the most people?” These questions often cross the minds of students as they navigate the labyrinth of career choices. Dr. Linda Gutierrez-Miller, one such student, embarked on a journey to answer these questions, ultimately choosing a career path that aligns with her goals of making a substantial impact and aiding a diverse range of individuals—clinical pharmacy.
Versatility in Pharmacy
Clinical pharmacists occupy a distinctive position, often granted patient care privileges that allow them to engage in comprehensive medication decision-making functions as integral members of the healthcare team.¹
Dr. Gutierrez-Miller obtained her PharmD degree from the University of Mexico College of Pharmacy. Following this, she achieved board certification in pharmacotherapy and ambulatory care from the Board of Pharmacy Specialties (BPS). Additionally, she holds the title of Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist (CDCES).
Her professional journey demonstrates the versatility inherent in a pharmacy career. Dr. Gutierrez-Miller’s experiences span various settings, including an Indian health tribal site in Santo Domingo, NM, a federally qualified health center, a charitable pharmacy, and several primary care clinics in Ohio. Currently, she contributes as a vital member of the healthcare team at the Providence Family Medicine Center in Anchorage, Alaska. This center caters to a diverse patient population, housing specialty clinics in obstetrics and addiction while offering refugee services.
Making An Impact
Dr. Gutierrez-Miller’s extensive background equips her exceptionally well for working with diverse patient populations. In her role at the Providence Family Medicine Center, she dedicates her time to assisting clinic residents with medication treatment plans and conducts individual visits with patients, prescribing medications for chronic conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, osteoporosis, asthma, and COPD. As a CDCES, she also assists patients with continuous glucose monitors, insulin pumps, and imparts nutrition education.
Beyond medical treatment, Dr. Gutierrez-Miller actively engages in making medications affordable for her patients through Patient Assistance Programs (PAPs). About this part of her role, Dr. Gutierrez-Miller says, “When my patient without insurance is able to get an expensive lifesaving medication from a manufacturer Patient Assistance Program (PAP), I celebrate that they can receive the best medication despite their financial situation.” Recognizing the crucial role of such programs, she went the extra mile by establishing an entity-owned in-house 340B retail pharmacy at a federally qualified health center, ensuring continued access to affordable medications for her patients.
Despite the challenges in her current role, including communication barriers due to the diverse linguistic landscape of her clinic, Dr. Gutierrez-Miller remains dedicated to providing the best care possible. She says, “With over 80 different languages spoken at my clinic, I worry that information gets lost in translation. This is especially true when I call patients on the phone.” Nevertheless, Dr. Gutierrez-Miller is committed to providing the best care possible at all times, emphasizing the significance of kindness and compassion, “A smile means the same thing whether the patient speaks Hmong, Ukranian, or Tagalog.”
Dr. Gutierrez-Miller’s journey underscores the importance of perseverance and commitment in the face of challenges. Reflecting on her own experiences, she encourages aspiring pharmacists, saying, “Many different paths can lead to your goal destination.” Her story serves as an inspiration, illustrating that detours can be valuable experiences preparing individuals for their ultimate goals:
“Even though you may become upset or angry when you come across a detour sign because you see your destination just across the street, later you’ll realize that it was the perfect path for creating experiences necessary to prepare you for your goal destination. I didn’t match in a residency program after graduating from pharmacy school, so I had doubts that I could reach my dream job of becoming an ambulatory care pharmacist. However, job opportunities opened up that provided me with valuable clinical experience. Having BPS Board Certification showed proof of my experience and knowledge for employers to hire me despite not having completed a pharmacy residency.”
We extend our gratitude to Dr. Gutierrez-Miller for sharing her inspiring narrative. For those interested in a similar path, explore the Pharm4Me website for more information on becoming a pharmacist and discover additional inspirational stories on the Pharm4Me Blog.
1 American College of Clinical Pharmacy. (n.d.). About Clinical Pharmacists. ACCP. https://www.accp.com/about/clinicalpharmacists.aspx