Home | About Us | Subscribe | Join Us:

Joel Marrs – Ambulatory Care Pharmacist, Cardiology Specialty

Joel Marrs
What makes your career path unique?

My career path to becoming an ambulatory cardiology pharmacist and faculty member is unique because it required multiple years of residency training. During this training, I practiced in both the inpatient hospital setting and in various ambulatory/outpatient clinics.

My path to specialize in cardiology has been developed over the last fifteen years and covers time at two different universities, as well as both inpatient and outpatient clinical practices. This wide exposure to varied practice settings makes me a well-rounded practitioner.

What does a typical workday look like for you?

I am in clinic every other week. During each of these weeks, there are 40 patient visits for chronic cardiovascular/endocrine disease states spread out over multiple days.

During the first half of a typical day, I might see up to 11 patients who suffer from diseases like hypertension, dyslipidemia, diabetes, etc.. During these morning visits, I independently meet with patients and adjust their medications based on exam findings through collaborative drug therapy protocols.

In the second half of a typical day, I do outreach and follow-up to diabetes patients via phone. These phone calls are usually a discussion about titration of their insulin therapy based on elevated, self-monitored blood glucose values.

When I’m not at clinic, I’m at school. During these weeks, I usually have a mix of teaching and facilitating in therapeutics courses, as well as a capstone course in the P3 year. Additionally, I spend time doing research focused on evaluating optimal primary and secondary prevention of CVD therapy and patient-centered outcomes.

Describe the most rewarding day of your career.

I have had many rewarding days in my career, and all of them have involved patients and various learners (e.g., students, residents).

The rewarding days involving patients typically occur when they can see the impact that their self-care and medication therapy have had on improving how they feel, their numbers, and their overall chronic disease control.

The most rewarding days involving students and learners occur when the team-based care model is successful. This means that I’ve been successful in teaching and promoting this model of care to others.

Describe the most challenging day of your career.

The most challenging days of my career are related to negative health consequences in my patients. It’s especially challenging when I see that these negative consequences could have been prevented by improvements in their health system, whether that’s related to follow-up, access to care, or improved medication adherence.

These challenging days serve as a constant reminder that pharmacists should be key players on every healthcare team, no matter the setting. It also drives me to continue to provide optimal care to patients day in and day out.

What most attracted you to pharmacy over other healthcare professions?

I was exposed to hospital pharmacy at a young age because my father practiced as a hospital pharmacist for most of his career. I was also exposed to education throughout my life because my mother was an elementary school teacher.

Based on these experiences, I decided to pursue becoming a pharmacy faculty member. I knew that this career would allow me to practice clinically as a pharmacist, while also working as an educator to shape the next generation of pharmacists. This combination was very attractive to me.

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

I knew I wanted to go to pharmacy school when applying to college. So, I made sure to apply at a school that also had a pharmacy school and pre-pharmacy program.

After completing pharmacy school and obtaining my PharmD, I also completed two years of residency training. The residency training provided me with additional clinical, research, and teaching experience necessary to pursue a faculty position.

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

My advice to students entering pharmacy school would be to look at all the various types of pharmacy jobs that are available to you. This will help you to find the career you will like the most.