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Elizabeth Cohen – Transplant Pharmacist

Elizabeth Cohen
What makes your career path unique?

My career path is unique because I have an undergraduate degree in chemistry, but decided I liked working with people too much to work in a lab forever.

So, I worked in a pharmacy during the summer of my junior year of college and loved it! I decided to pursue pharmacy as my career path after this.

What does a typical workday look like for you?

On a typical morning, I round with the transplant team which consists of surgeons, kidney and liver doctors, nurse practitioners, social workers, dietitians, care coordinators, and pharmacists. During these rounds, I make sure that patients are educated about their new transplant medications and make sure that they feel comfortable with their medications before leaving.

During this time, I also meet with patients that have left the hospital after a transplant. During these meetings, we talk about their medications, make sure that they are taking them as they should, and change their doses as needed.

In the afternoon, I spend time with my students and residents. During this time, I teach them about transplant, complete research, and meet with other team members about projects.

Describe the most rewarding day of your career.

The most rewarding day of my career was when I obtained a grant to do a research study. On that day, one of the physicians I work with told me he was proud to work with me.

I work with an amazing transplant team that is extremely collaborative and puts an emphasis on helping everyone progress their careers. It’s very rewarding.

Describe the most challenging day of your career.

The most challenging day of my career was a day that we had a very sick patient after her kidney transplant.

The transplant surgeon requested a medication that we do not use in our patient population due to a lack of data to demonstrate that it works. Despite this fact, the physician wanted to use it.

I worked closely with the pharmacy managers and the transplant team to develop a plan that made sense for the patient and was based on evidence.

These types of interactions are always a challenge but having a strong relationship with the team and providing data to support your recommendations makes for a good outcome. Appropriate patient care is always our priority.

What most attracted you to pharmacy over other healthcare professions?

The thing that attracted me to pharmacy is the fact that pharmacists are intimately involved in ensuring patient adherence with their medications and providing medication education.

Pharmacists are also one of the most accessible professionals within the industry and are uniquely positioned to help increase our patients understanding of their disease states and medications.

What steps did you take to enter into this career path?

To enter into this career path, I obtained a chemistry degree and then attended pharmacy school.

While in pharmacy school, I loved my transplant lectures and noticed that the transplant pharmacists I knew were heavily involved in pharmacy, patient care, and research.  Also, I found the disease state to be very interesting and the patients to be very strong.

Based on this interest and passion, I decided to shadow a transplant pharmacist in pharmacy school. My shadowing experience helped me decide to pursue specialized residency training after pharmacy school.

What advice would you give to a student entering pharmacy school?

My advice to students entering pharmacy school is to work hard and make connections with pharmacists.

It’s hard to predict which area of pharmacy will interest them the most. So, the more they are exposed to, the better they’ll understand the potential career opportunities.