Novel Pharmacy Practice Settings - Pharmacy for me
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Novel Pharmacy Practice Settings

Pharmacists can practice in a variety of unique settings!

When it comes to careers in pharmacy, there’s a wide range of practice setting options. This means every pharmacist can find the practice setting that best incorporates their skills and interests. Click below to explore information about unique practice settings from real world pharmacists!

Meet the Pharmacist

Suzanne Surowiec, PharmD, BCACP

Assistant Professor of Pharmacy Practice
The University of Findlay

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

The University of Findlay College of Pharmacy

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

I work as a clinical ambulatory care pharmacist at a private practice in Northwest Ohio. In this role, I see patients for a variety of disease states and medication management (i.e. warfarin management, antiarrhythmic medication monitoring, heart failure, medication reviews, etc). I also work with physicians under collaborative practice agreements.

My practice setting is unique because I do not actually dispense any medications or approve any prescription orders. Instead, I work one-on-one with patients to improve their care.

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

I completed a few advanced pharmacy practice experience (APPE) rotations in ambulatory care clinics and fell in love! I also completed a postgraduate year one (PGY1) pharmacy practice residency that was primarily focused in ambulatory care and academia. These experiences led me to my career today!

What does a typical workday look like for you?

At the clinic, I primarily see a new patient every 15 minutes. My practice setting is fast-paced and I see a large volume of patients each day.

In addition to seeing my patients in person for medication management and monitoring, I also have patients that I call throughout the day. These patients test their international normalized ratios (INR) at home.

I also speak with nurses daily at nursing homes and home health agencies, answer drug information questions from patients or physicians, and precept pharmacy students.

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

The most rewarding aspect of my career is when patients thank me for my help and expertise. In these moments, I truly feel that I am making a difference in the lives of my patients.

Describe the most challenging aspect of your role.

The most challenging aspect of my role is that I have limited time to spend with each patient (approximately 15 minutes per patient) due to the high volume of patients I see each day. This means addressing the most pressing issues and sometimes requiring a follow-up call or visit to address other complaints.

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 would recommend that students interested in a career similar to mine should shadow and/or complete introductory pharmacy practice experience (IPPE) hours in an ambulatory care setting. I’d also advise them to complete at least one year of residency training, as most of these positions require a PGY1 or PGY2.

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

As a new pharmacist early in my residency training, I was seeing a patient for warfarin management. The patient’s INR was in range. However, I took his BP and pulse and noted that his pulse was tachycardic and irregular.

He was very adamant to leave—his wife was waiting in the car—but I insisted he wait to see the cardiologist in my building. I went out to the car to get his wife and soon after his EKG showed he was in atrial fibrillation. He was cardioverted a few days later.

After that encounter, the patient thanked me for being insistent that he not leave that day. We now have a great relationship and I still see him very routinely six years later!

Meet the Pharmacist

Sharmi Patel, PharmD, MBA

Executive Fellow
Iowa Pharmacy Association

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

Drake University College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences

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

Iowa Pharmacy Association represents a unified voice for the profession of pharmacy, aiming to preserve and advance the interests of the profession and serve the professional needs of all pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, and students practicing in the state. 

An association management fellowship provides an exceptional learning experience for a pharmacist interested in being a leader and prepares individuals well for a well-rounded, high-level position in the profession of pharmacy and health care.

This career path is incredibly unique because it allows you to gain exposure to a variety of areas within association management, including leadership development, grassroots advocacy, professional affairs, problem-solving and more.

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

While in pharmacy school, I knew I had an interest in a non-traditional pharmacy setting, which is why I decided to pursue an MBA degree in addition to my PharmD. I appreciated the expanded set of skills and critical thinking that I developed during my MBA courses and quickly realized that I’ve always wanted to be involved with a higher level of patient care and have had an interest in the administrative and strategic work of healthcare organizations to advance the profession while also improving the health outcomes of patients.

During my last year of pharmacy school while on rotations, I aimed to gain exposure to different pharmacy practice settings and network with individuals across a variety of areas to determine where my interests lied. I knew I wanted to gain additional training and leadership development before diving into a specific industry. So, when a colleague recommended that I pursue the IPA fellowship, I knew it was an opportunity that I couldn’t pass up!

What does a typical workday look like for you?

Something I love about the fellowship is that there’s no typical workday. Some days I have back-to-back meetings all day and on other days I spend most of my time catching up on emails and projects.

Overall, my week often includes listening and learning from educational webinars, planning IPA events for our members, collaborating with various state and national stakeholders, working with pharmacies to implement clinical initiatives, addressing member issues, networking with pharmacy professionals, precepting fourth-year pharmacy students, and much more!

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

The most exciting aspect of my role is being able to make a high-level, valuable impact on the profession through the many initiatives I’ve been able to take lead on. Knowing that the work that I am doing independently as well as within my team will directly result in advancing the role of pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, and students is incredibly satisfying.   

Describe the most challenging aspect of your role.

The most challenging aspect of my role right now is that I am unable to attend in-person meetings and events and make even greater personal connections with everyone I’ve been fortunate to meet so far.

My team often talks about the “water cooler” chats that’re associated with each meeting. It’s a disappointing feeling to have missed out on additional opportunities to get to know my colleagues and pharmacy professionals in a more individualized way.

Although I’ve been able to reach more individuals through virtual calls and meetings, there’s a difference in the value of a face-to-face meeting. I’m hoping to get opportunities to attend in-person meetings before my fellowship ends, pending the COVID-19 pandemic!

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

No matter the state, pharmacy associations play a pivotal role in advancing the pharmacy profession. State pharmacy associations work incredibly hard to advocate for pharmacists, technicians, and students. Many associationsstate and nationaloffer executive internships, fellowships, and residencies to help new graduates learn more about association management. 

Beyond pharmacy school, state associations also provide opportunities for pharmacists to get involved within committees, grassroots advocacy, event planning, and more.

I’d recommend that student pharmacists reach out to their respective state pharmacy associations to determine where their expertise can be the most valuable.

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 students interested in pursuing association management network with pharmacy leaders, get involved with advancing your state associations’ legislative priorities, and pursue internships or rotations that are focused on association management and/or have a legislative or regulatory focus.

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

I’d recommend that students keep an open mind and remember that pharmacists do more than just put pills into a bottle. It’s a good idea to get involved in unique opportunities while in high school, undergraduate, or graduate studies to differentiate themselves and gain well-rounded experiences. 

If they’re looking to make a lasting impact on patients and healthcare, pharmacy school will prepare them well for the clinical knowledge needed for the several paths that they can take after graduating. They should be sure to step outside of their comfort zones to find what areas they’re most interested in and then explore those areas further through internships, shadowing opportunities, and job prospects.

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

Throughout my fellowship, I’ve been able to work with our team to implement new policies involving diversity, equity, and inclusion. We continue to have educational opportunities within our own team and have made it a priority to have the conversation about racial injustice in hopes that by the association taking such stands, the profession of pharmacy in Iowa can continually foster a just and inclusive healthcare system and society.

Meet the Pharmacist

James Delk, PharmD

YouTube Producer
The Fresh Pharmacist, LLC

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

University of Colorado Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences

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

In my job, I interact with patients using social media—YouTube in particular. Through this outlet, I’m able to reach a broader base of patients. It also allows me to communicate about pharmacy in a more personal, laidback, and accessible way.

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

In addition to my work as a YouTube producer, I also get the opportunity to work in a hospital setting. While I truly enjoy both atmospheres, I find that producing YouTube videos allows me to express myself in a way that is very unique and personal.

I’m able to use social media to communicate my pharmacy knowledge with others, but I’m able to put my own personal spin on things.

What does a typical workday look like for you?

As I mentioned, I bounce back and forth between hospital and outpatient settings throughout the day. When I wrap that up, I’m able to come home and focus specifically on my YouTube videos.

When developing new videos, I often spend time researching video topics, writing scripts, planning camera angles and shoots, editing, tweaking audio, and more!

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

The most rewarding aspect of my job as a YouTube producer is when I receive positive feedback from viewers and followers. I can’t tell you how frequently I hear things like, “Thanks – I really needed to hear that!” 

Responses and feedback like this remind me that I’m helping people each and every day through the work that I’m doing—even if I don’t get to see them face-to-face.

Describe the most challenging aspect of your role.

Finding balance in holding multiple roles in pharmacy is the most challenging thing for me. It can be difficult to balance my day job with my work as a YouTube producer. 

In addition to producing videos, I also spend time on marketing, responding to emails, interacting with other companies, and more. At the end of the day, this busy schedule pays off when I’m able to help people through my videos!

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

When it comes to starting a YouTube channel, there are a variety of great resources available to learn more! I recommend reading books on YouTube production and marketing. Oftentimes you can also find educational resources online that are free of charge!

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

My advice to student pharmacists interested in creating their own YouTube channel would be not to worry too much about the quality of your videos at first! As long as you have valuable information to share, do your best to create videos so you can get it out into the world. And don’t worry about looking silly!

As you move through the process of creating videos, you’ll start to gain the valuable knowledge and skills needed to grow and improve. The key to improving is consistency.

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

My advice to high school and college students interested in pharmacy is not to be afraid of the sciences. These courses can be intimidating, but I recommend attacking them head-on. And don’t forget, it’s okay to ask for help—even from the very beginning!

In some of those especially challenging classes, it’s also a great idea to seek out additional resources tailored to your specific style of learning. For example, read a book or watch a YouTube video about a topic you’re learning in your science lab. Sometimes seeing things explained in multiple formats can help to drive tricky concepts home! 

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

After posting a YouTube video about the medication Plan B, I was flooded with emails and messages from young people with questions. Using my knowledge as a pharmacist, I was able to answer their questions, ease their concerns, direct them to see advice from a physician, and more. 

These young men and women were so grateful for my assistance, especially since the topic was one that could be viewed as embarrassing or difficult to discuss with friends and family. It was wonderful to see how my work in this unique practice setting was paying off!

Meet the Pharmacist

Jesse Brown, PharmD, RPh

Clinical Research Associate
Clinical Operations
Medpace CRO

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

University of North Texas Health Science Center School of Pharmacy

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

In my current role, my team essentially audits clinical trials. We ensure the safety of research subjects by monitoring and assessing clinical research sites. We’re also involved in interviewing clinical sites as potential candidates to run clinical trials and educating the sites on how to conduct procedures appropriately. The FDA publishes guidelines that all of these processes must meet.

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

I found this career pathway when I attended a career fair that was held at my pharmacy school UNTHSC—my pharmacy school.

What does a typical workday look like for you?

I mostly work from home. When I’m not at home, I’m traveling all over the U.S. Sometimes I travel up to twice a week, but this varies. More typically, I travel between one and three times each month.

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

The most rewarding part of my job is finishing a clinical trial where endpoints have been met. It’s great to watch the investigational products get one step closer to be available to help the general population!

Describe the most challenging aspect of your role.

The consistent travel in this role can sometimes be overwhelming. But, that aspect of the job is truly a personal preference. Some of my colleagues love the travel aspect and would rather be on the road than at home!

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

I’d suggest exploring various contract research organizations (CROs) and the types of careers they offer. Their websites will often give you a good idea of the types of jobs available.

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

If students are interested in a role like mine, I’d suggest they think about their desire for a solid work/life balance. My role is a standard nine-to-five role, but frequent travel sometimes means working more often. If students value being home at the end of the day, this may not be a career for them! On the other hand, though, students interested in travel and exploration may enjoy the role thoroughly!

It’s also important for students to note that they don’t have to be a pharmacist to apply for this type of job. I work with many individuals with different healthcare and research backgrounds each and every day.

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

Pharmacy is a versatile career, as there are so many specialties and career pathways in the field. My advice for students who are set on one specific area within the field of pharmacy is to do thorough research into the job market of that area. Pharmacy job markets have changed a lot over the past 10 years and it’s important to stay informed.

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

While my current role does not require me to technically practice pharmacy, I am licensed to do so. With my knowledge of pharmacy and the work that I’m doing each day, I’m able to positively impact research patient populations and keep them safe by ensuring there are no mistakes or potential drug interactions involved with drugs currently on the market and investigational products.

Meet the Pharmacist

Rita Parsiani, PharmD, BC-ADM, CDCES

Clinical Pharmacist
Harold Schnitzer Diabetes Health Center
Oregon Health & Science University

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

Pacific University School of Pharmacy

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

The Harold Schnitzer Diabetes Health Center at Oregon Health & Science University is located in Portland, Oregon. It serves both adults and children with diabetes. It’s one of the only clinics on the West Coast combining pediatric and adult diabetes care in one center.

As a clinical pharmacist, I help support our diabetologists and endocrinologists care for patients with diabetes. The collaborative practice agreement between myself and our physicians enables me to engage in prescriptive activities, which include initiating, modifying, or discontinuing medication treatment for diabetes.

In addition to providing care for patients with type 1 and type 2 diabetes, I also help manage a wide array of hyperglycemic disorders which include post-transplant diabetes, cystic-fibrosis-related-diabetes, and steroid/drug-induced hyperglycemia.

Aside from using pharmacological therapy and lifestyle changes to help manage these conditions, I also incorporate various forms of diabetes technology to help optimize management such as using a continuous glucose monitor and/or an insulin pump.

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

I have always had an interest in ambulatory care services. This passion stems from losing my father at a young age to cardiovascular disease.

As a pharmacy student, I truly enjoyed meeting with patients in the community or ambulatory care settings providing patient education and medication consultation. Beyond the conventional pharmacy practice settings, I learned that pharmacists were also found providing patient care in specialty environments so I began seeking those opportunities.

I completed rotations in transplant medicine, HIV, and infectious disease where I found these unique areas of healthcare fascinating. I completed my postgraduate year one (PGY-1) pharmacy residency in a large, integrated health system that offered a variety of rotations and electives. Soon after joining the diabetes health center, I worked towards gaining the following certifications: Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist (CDCES, previously known as CDE) and Board Certified-Advanced Diabetes Management (BC-ADM). 

What does a typical workday look like for you?

Over half my time is spent providing direct patient care through office or digital visits (video or phone). These patients are referred to me directly from our physician staff. I also answer patient questions in-between visits, resolve medication barriers, and handle urgent calls related to patient diabetes care.

Aside from running this clinical pharmacy service, my other duties include committee or task force involvement and providing learning opportunities for our students/residents.

A great deal of my time is also spent providing drug-information support, which can include answering patient-specific questions, providing medication updates, or improving institutional processes to improve medication ordering, safety, and access.

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

Every patient that successfully meets their blood sugar targets or A1c goals under my care is a very rewarding aspect of my role! To achieve this outcome, the majority of my patients have had to overcome barriers or change their lifestyles significantly to optimize their diabetes care.

I find that establishing care with another provider on the team, such as a pharmacist or diabetes educator, can be a refreshing and motivating opportunity for patients to start something new and set some achievable goals.

The services I provide are focused on intensive blood sugar management offering frequent visits every 1-4 weeks for a short duration of time (3-6 months). Most providers in a clinic setting cannot provide patients with this type of frequent support. The majority of my patients are on insulin regimens requiring multiple shots per day and need several adjustments to optimize blood sugar control. This service can be comforting for patients as it ensures them that they have clinical support to follow up and reassess on these frequent changes.

Describe the most challenging aspect of your role.

Despite progress in the development of managing diabetes, the burden of living with diabetes remains high and can lead to burnout quickly. While I make every attempt to help patients cope effectively with the constant demands by guiding treatment, the challenges and barriers that often arise are beyond my control. This can be very challenging.

Medication affordability and mental health support are just two examples of these challenges. When cost becomes a barrier, navigating through available resources is complex, confusing, and time-consuming. When someone’s mental health needs attention, it can be difficult finding a behavioral health provider to assist promptly especially for vulnerable patients at high risk of diabetes-related complications.

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

The internet is an excellent way to learn about specialty practices that have incorporated clinical pharmacy services. I suggest attending various seminars and pharmacy conferences that include topics of your interest. And don’t be afraid to connect with the event speakers!

I also suggest attending poster presentations where pharmacists are presenting new practices or initiatives in the field, reading up on the latest articles published in Diabetes Care or Diabetes Spectrum, and getting involved in the Association of Diabetes Care & Education Specialists.

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

Reach out to your professors and preceptors. Chances are your professors may be able to connect you with someone in the field. Rotations are also a great way to connect with specialty practices. It’s also a good idea to participate in events or workshops related to diabetes care. 

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

If possible, I highly suggest becoming a pharmacy technician while conducting the coursework necessary to apply for pharmacy school. Some pharmacy technicians work side-by-side with clinical pharmacists. Any prior healthcare experience is truly valuable.

I worked as a pharmacy technician for both a retail and hospital setting prior to pharmacy school. There were times in pharmacy school that I was grateful for that experience because I had previous knowledge of a topic or practice which made studying a bit easier. 

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

A few years ago, our institution implemented the Total Pancreatectomy with Islet Auto Transplantation (TPIAT) program. There are only a handful of hospitals throughout the country that offer the procedure, and ours is one of only three west of the Mississippi. This special surgical procedure is considered for patients with pancreatitis that fail other treatment measures. A full team of experts in pancreatic surgery, gastroenterology, diabetes care, anesthesiology, pain management, and nutrition make up this program.

Our group supports the program by evaluating these patients for surgical consideration and management if selected. In collaboration with the providers, I support our TPIAT patients by providing education, medication adjustments, and close monitoring of blood sugars post-operation. Clinical pharmacy involvement in managing glycemic control post-TPIAT has been a valuable service thus far. It’s something that hasn’t been reported in the literature. I am honored to be a part of this program as a pharmacist and aid these patients towards recovery.

Meet the Pharmacist

R. Logan Yoho, PharmD, BCACP, 340B ACE

Director of Pharmacy
Hopewell Health Centers

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

Ohio Northern University College of Pharmacy

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

Although I tried, I was unable to match with a residency. I even tried for a residency the year after I graduated. So, I worked for several years in retail pharmacy but wanted something more.  

After several years of searching for something different, I was able to obtain my current position as Director of Pharmacy. I’m the first pharmacist that has worked for my federally qualified health center. As an Apexus certified 340B expert, I was able to open a 340B pharmacy within one of our clinics.

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

I was driven by my love for the people of southeastern Ohio. It’s an often forgotten and overlooked area within the state. I grew up in the area, so the patients are my family, friends, and neighbors.

I knew I didn’t want to work my entire career in a chain pharmacy, so I did everything I could to build my resume. I was active in the Ohio Pharmacists Association, which connected me with pharmacists in all different areas of the profession. I also volunteered for committee with the Board of Pharmacy. Finally, I sought out postgraduate training to differentiate myself from my peers.

After spending a year studying, I was able to earn my board certification in ambulatory care pharmacy in 2016. That led me to my current role.

What does a typical workday look like for you?

Typical does not usually describe my workday. Instead, I’m often pulled this way or that as needed.

As the Director of Pharmacy, I have a place on many committees within our organization and I spend a lot of time in meetings. Some committees I’m involved in include environment of care, joint leadership, and clinical quality oversight.

I also oversee operation of the clinic pharmacy. In this role, I ensure compliance with Board of Pharmacy and 340B regulations for our 26 clinics. This often requires traveling between the locations. 

Finally, I precept pharmacy students, which allows them to see and experience 340B operations and compliance firsthand.

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

In my role, I’m treating the most vulnerable patients. Many of my patients would be unable to afford their medications if it were not for the 340B program. It’s a great feeling to increase the overall health of people in the same rural community where I grew up.  

Describe the most challenging aspect of your role.

The biggest challenge in my position has been paving the way for pharmacy. As the first pharmacist in the organization, there was pushback from some healthcare professionals who thought I was there to take their jobs.

Developing a collaborative healthcare team is always a challenge, but I’ve worked hard to develop relationships with our providers and they now tend to view pharmacists as a way to enhance their services, not replace them.

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

I’d recommend calling local organizations and asking to shadow pharmacists there. This may allow students the opportunity to experience a variety of aspects of pharmacy.

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 recommend getting active in professional organizations. Often, these positions are filled through network connections. My colleagues regularly ask me to recommend pharmacists for positions. If students are active in their state’s pharmacy association, they’ll develop those important relationships.

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

I recommend students start working in pharmacy while they’re still in school. The lessons students learn in the workplace are as valuable as those learned in the classroom. Working as a technician or intern will also give students a better perspective of their value when they become pharmacists.

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

This past year, I was able to introduce an Ohio bill with the three bill sponsors that would protect the 340B program. I testified for the bill before multiple legislative committees and was able to participate in the bill signing by the governor.

It was an honor to be such a big part of getting a bill passed that will not just help my patients, but vulnerable patients all over the state of Ohio. Advocacy is sometimes undervalued, but each pharmacist can make an impact on the profession.

Meet the Pharmacist

Gabriel Wong, PharmD

Health Economist
U.S. Medical Affairs
Genentech, Inc.

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

University of California San Francisco School of Pharmacy

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

As a health economist, my career really is quite unique in that it melds both the clinical training of a pharmacist with economics and finance.

Health economics is the practice of determining if certain drugs or interventions are worth the price for the clinical benefit they provide. Hence, it truly pushes one into quite novel techniques, such as mixing clinical trial data with modeling.

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

I’ve always enjoyed economics. In fact, it was one of my majors in college. That interest helped push me in the direction of my current career.

The biggest stepping stone for me was gaining a summer internship at Genentech in health economics, which I was able to extend for two years. This internship experience gave me a great introduction to the industry and the world of pharmacoeconomics. I was also able to leverage this experience to land a job straight out of pharmacy school.

What does a typical workday look like for you?

A typical workday for me involves several meetings. I meet with several cross-functional teams from departments, such as commercial and medical, to align on strategy for a product or provide updates on my projects.

I then have additional meetings with vendors or other teammates to manage projects that demonstrate the value of my assigned product, such as claims database analysis, budget impact modeling, or patient-reported outcomes studies.

A portion of my days is also spent on reading literature to stay on top of changes in the field.

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

I think the most rewarding aspect of my role is ensuring access to incredibly beneficial drugs to our patients. Oftentimes novel therapies are placed behind severe restrictions by payers. So, it’s extremely important to demonstrate the value of the product (e.g. show how using the product actually saves the health plan money in the long run). By doing this, barriers for patients using these therapies can sometimes be removed.

Describe the most challenging aspect of your role.

Health economics really pushes you to be an expert in several fields. Sometimes it’s challenging to be a master of both the clinical and economic aspects of the role. It requires constant reading and training to stay useful to my company. In addition, many departments find health economics useful, so there’s always extremely high demand for services which can lead to busy days.

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

I highly recommend joining organizations such as ISPOR or AMCP to get a taste for health economics. Both organizations are very reputable and offer training for those interested in an introduction or even a deep dive into the field. Career opportunities are also posted on these organizations’ websites.

In addition to getting involved in organizations, there are also several reputable master’s programs that offer pharmacoeconomics as a discipline.

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

Internships in the industry are highly recommended. If an internship isn’t possible, then rotations in this industry are also of value. Most pharmacists looking to break into industry will go into a fellowship, so that’s a route I encourage exploring as well.

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

My advice is to keep an open mind and explore everything! Before diving in, it’s important for students to make sure that they really want to go into pharmacy and understand what career options are 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.

I was once able to demonstrate how utilization of a certain expensive product in a health system would actually save the plan money due to the lowered amount of hospitalizations, ER visits, and other health care resource utilization that would result from using the product.

These findings were communicated to the payer and were ultimately a key deciding factor in loosening access restrictions to the key targeted population.

Meet the Pharmacist

Maria Lopez, PharmD

President & Lead PrEP Pharmacist
Mission Wellness

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

University of California San Francisco School of Pharmacy

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

I work in community pharmacy with the American Society of Health-System Professional’s (ASHP) community postgraduate year one (PGY-1) program and in a collaborative practice with the San Francisco Department of Health for PrEP, STI, and HIV prevention.

I also led the first stand-alone community pharmacy in California to initiate PrEP under collaborative practice, which eventually became state law via SB159.

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

After residency, I worked as an infectious disease pharmacist then an HIV community pharmacy specialist. This led me to my current career.

What does a typical workday look like for you?

During a typical day, I teach students and residents and oversee our point of care (POC) testing in PrEP, and conduct COVID-19 testing (right now).

I’m often on Zoom calls with other providers and community people. On these calls, we plan ways to provide our services and help others.

My role also involves regular involvement as a specialist with the CDC’s capacity-building assistance (CBA) in HIV prevention in the western U.S..

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

The most rewarding aspect of my job is being able to help patients access PrEP to prevent HIV. In the past, many patients experienced barriers prior to coming to us for PrEP and we’ve made it easy for them with this one-stop model.

It was also very exciting to be involved with getting the bill signed into law. But now that that has occurred, the hard work of implementation begins!

Describe the most challenging aspect of your role.

One of the most challenging aspects of my job is handling reimbursement for pharmacists’ clinical services. It’s an aspect of the work beyond dispensing medication that’s so important for healthcare, but not often recognized.

The SB159 bill is paving the way for pharmacists in CA to receive reimbursement for the initiation of PrEP and PEP.

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

I recommend reading up on the area of pharmacy, listening to podcasts, and more. The following are a few resources about the pharmacy PrEP work we are doing that should be helpful:

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 they apply to our residency! It’s also a great idea to get involved in advocacy and don’t be afraid to try new things.

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

Pharmacy is a rewarding career where pharmacists can use their expertise to help not only patients, but physicians, nurses, and the community in general. I’d recommend students explore all of the various pharmacy practice settings!

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 once had a patient who had moved to town and was on PrEP, but was running out of the medication. He was nervous because he was unable to get an appointment to see a physician. Then someone told him about us. He was so grateful and amazed that he could go to the pharmacy, get tested, and pick up PrEP all in one place. It was great to see our hard work pay off!

Meet the Pharmacist

Olufunke Sokan, PharmD

Advanced Practice Pharmacist
Pharmacy Practice and Science
University of Maryland, Baltimore

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

Shenandoah University School of Pharmacy

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

I practice as an advanced practice pharmacist within a mobile integrated health-community paramedicine (MIH-CP) program. The MIH-CP is a patient-centered program that provides a broad range of health services to high-risk patients in the comfort of their homes after they’ve been discharged from the hospital.

This is a transitions of care (TOC) initiative that is unique in its setup because it involves a multidisciplinary team—a field team of community paramedics and a remote multidisciplinary operations center (consisting of physicians, nurse practitioners, community health workers, and pharmacists).

It’s unique in its mode of delivery in that it utilizes telehealth technologies as a clinical tool in the delivery of patient-centered care. This has been the case since long before the COVID-19 crisis.

Another unique aspect of this model is that all members of the interprofessional team can access and document within a universal electronic medical record (EPIC) which empowers care providers with critical patient information, improves care coordination and eliminates communication gaps. The pharmacist also plays the role of a trainer as it involves the training of community paramedics in performing some aspects of medication reconciliation.

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

I’ve always been passionate about providing care to underserved and disadvantaged populations. My career goal is to help people live healthier lives, improve their overall wellbeing, and reduce healthcare disparities.

Given that information, it’s no coincidence that I’m the pharmacist within the MIH-CP program that provides care to West Baltimore residents—one of the most medically underserved areas in the state of Maryland.

In my career, I’ve mostly followed my interests and passions. In order to get to my current role, I earned Masters in Pharmacy from the United Kingdom and a PharmD from Shenandoah University. I also completed a hospital-based residency and then gained experience practicing in the hospital setting, ambulatory care, and psychiatry.

What does a typical workday look like for you?

My day starts with reviewing my patient cases in EPIC and discussing patient cases with pharmacy students and residents. This process includes reviewing notes from the patients’ hospital stay, discharge summaries, and discharge medications. 

Any medication changes found during these reviews are communicated to the PCP and retail pharmacist. As the pharmacist, I ensure prescriptions for new medications are sent to pharmacies and that my patients can afford any new medications.

Throughout the day, I also spend time connecting with patients using new technologies. During video calls with patients, I provide comprehensive medication therapy management by reconciling medication lists, counseling the patients on the proper use of medications, and answering any questions the patients have about their medications.

As the pharmacist on this multidisciplinary team, I am also responsible for addressing any barriers/social determinants of health that could negatively impact medication adherence such as transportation, cost, prior authorizations, etc. I then communicate any discrepancies found and provide recommendations to the patients’ community-based providers to ensure continuity of care.

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

The most rewarding aspect of my role is improving medication adherence by helping patients understand their medication regimens and equipping them with the knowledge they need to successfully self-manage their chronic conditions thereby reducing hospital readmissions.

Describe the most challenging aspect of your role.

The most challenging aspect of my role is listening to heart-breaking stories about how my patients sometimes have to make tough decisions about whether to pay for their medication co-pays or put food on their table. This makes me want to do more for my patients and help them to navigate the available resources that they might not be aware of.

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

Joining pharmacy organizations like APhA and ACCP is a good start. These pharmacy organizations have special interest groups (SIG) and practice and research networks (PRNs) where you can network with other professionals in similar practice settings and learn about career opportunities.

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

My advice would be to obtain some experience by shadowing pharmacists in the practice area you are interested in. It’s also important to become an active member of student pharmacist organizations. And, finally, don’t forget to network, network, and network!

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 career path to pursue. It’s a diverse field that offers a wide variety of career opportunities. Pharmacists play a critical role in multidisciplinary patient care teams by improving patient outcomes through comprehensive medication management.

If you’re interested in making a positive impact with individuals and effecting change on a population’s health, then pharmacy is the right path for you.

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 once saw a patient who suffered from multiple chronic conditions including diabetes. During her hospitalization, her dose of insulin was decreased due to episodes of hypoglycemia. This patient received a 30-day supply of insulin prior to discharge.

When her supply was exhausted, she called in a refill to her retail pharmacy and when the medication was delivered to her home, she realized the dosage no longer matched her regimen.  She called me and I realized that the retail pharmacy had not been notified of the insulin dose change after discharge. I was able to contact her primary care physician who sent in a new prescription for the correct dose and the problem was rectified.

Without my intervention, the patient would have received the incorrect dose and would have been right back in the hospital for hypoglycemia. This highlights the importance of TOC pharmacists communicating medication changes made in the hospital to patients’ community-based providers and their retail pharmacists.

Meet the Pharmacist

Gabe Arguinchona, PharmD

Pharmacy Analytics & Business Intelligence Manager
Kaiser Permanente

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

Washington State University College of Pharmacy

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

I direct a team of pharmacy analysts and data scientists in the development of various business intelligence and data analytics tools. These tools provide executive leadership with clear insight into the clinical, operational, and financial outcomes of pharmacy and medical practices within Kaiser Permanente.

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

I was pursuing a career in accounting before I decided I wanted to become a pharmacist. I’ve always been someone who enjoys studying processes and learning how to improve them. 

When I started working as a pharmacist intern in a hospital system, I was obsessed with learning our processes and workflows, finding the bottlenecks, and devising solutions to fix inefficiencies.

Data is truly at the core of process improvement and outcome measurement, so I naturally learned various analytical techniques and began tackling larger and larger projects. I spent a good amount of time outside of school expanding my knowledge of data analytics, and aggressively pursued opportunities to highlight my analytical abilities.

All of that effort paid off and now I work in a role where I can combine these interests.

What does a typical workday look like for you?

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, my day-to-day work has varied significantly.

Back in March 2020, I was helping to direct our analytics response to the outbreak by leading a team of analysts and data scientists in the development of various executive dashboards, disease models, and machine learning applications to predict hospitalization surges. Over the summer I helped to build a handful of machine learning models that utilized Google Trends data to forecast urgent care and emergency room visit volumes related to respiratory illnesses. Most recently I’ve been responsible for managing the data and analytics surrounding our COVID-19 vaccine supply chain and administration.

Outside of my COVID-related work, I manage a team that is responsible for building analytical tools to measure the clinical and financial outcomes of pharmacy care within Kaiser Permanente. These tools allow our leadership teams to make informed, data-driven decisions about patient care.

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

The breadth of work I get to take on is the most rewarding aspect of my role. I’m not necessarily confined to just working with pharmacy data. I’ve done a lot of analytics work and research surrounding COVID, oncology, hospital readmissions, and consumer behavior.

I love that I get to do work that I enjoy while applying my clinical expertise and financial background to a variety of situations to ensure the work I and my team do is effective and insightful.

Describe the most challenging aspect of your role.

The most challenging aspect of my role is managing relationships with business partners and colleagues throughout the organization, and learning to talk about analytics with them at a level they understand.

I work with individuals with both high and low levels of data literacy, so a big part of my role is ensuring that they understand the real-world impact of the data they are using and helping them understand analytics strategies.

In many situations, it’s similar to counseling a patient on their medications. Pharmacists encounter patients with varying levels of medical literacy but have to effectively communicate with them and ensure the patient understands the key points about the medications they take.

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

My role is fairly unique, but having exposure to pharmacy informatics is a good step towards learning more about clinical analytics.

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 suggest students develop an analytics project portfolio to go along with their CVs. Their portfolios should include information about the project work plan, outcomes, and long-term impacts. They should be able to speak to the data analytics techniques involved, the data sources used, and the outcomes of any statistical testing. An analytics portfolio can contain any projects related to health economics and outcomes research, clinical decision support application development, financial analytics, clinical research, and exploratory data analysis.

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

I recommend that students get as much exposure to the field as possible. When I was taking my pre-pharmacy courses, I was working as a pharmacy technician. I still apply some of the operational knowledge I learned then to the work I do today.

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 no longer work in a direct patient care setting, but my work enables pharmacists, physicians, and nurses to provide exceptional patient care in the communities we serve.

Meet the Pharmacist

Paul Thompson, PharmD, BCPP

Chairman and CEO
CLB Pharmaceutical Resources, Inc.

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

Washington State University College of Pharmacy

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

My practice has been built around the evolving role of pharmacists as medical providers. I currently run an innovative pharmacist medical group, which provides clinical consultative and evaluative services that are primarily reimbursed through medical credentialing and contracts with many commercial health plans.

This medical group is comprised of pharmacists providing medically necessary medication management including comprehensive preventative medication evaluation and management, preventative health care services, complex chronic care management services, and transitional care management.

This practice setting is unique because I utilized the Washington State Senate Bill 5557 to catapult this effort into a different way of delivering high-quality pharmaceutical care.

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

I’ve always had an appreciation for streamlining and improving practice efficiencies and have noticed throughout my career that there are other possible—but unconventional—ways to approach the problems we face as pharmacists.

I also realized that there are many different ways to streamline health care services, provide greater value, and demonstrate improved efficiencies outside of what we consider “typical” practice settings. I was able to put all of this into practice in my current role.

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

The most rewarding aspect of my current role is knowing that I’m enhancing and evolving my role as a health care provider and the role of pharmacists as knowledgeable, engaging healthcare professionals that can demonstrate profound competency towards improving health outcomes for the patients we care for.

Describe the most challenging aspect of your role.

The things I’ve been able to accomplish in my current role aren’t considered to be established practices, so I didn’t have practice management plans available for me to learn from. This made the process of getting started a bit more difficult.

I used my experience from working in established practice settings to move my practice initiative forward by innovating and expanding on what pharmacists are capable of providing for patients.

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

I’d suggest they connect with your local state pharmacy association and join professional groups. Connecting with other pharmacy professionals that’re pursuing areas that they’re interested in is a great way to learn more.

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

For recently graduated student pharmacists interested in this type of career, I recommend working for a good company that’ll provide the opportunity to learn more about how to deliver high-quality clinical services, as well as the chance to learn what the financial processes are behind those clinical services.

This will help those young pharmacy professionals to obtain an enhanced understanding of the whole picture before going out on their own to truly get into the business of healthcare services.

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

My advice is different based on a student’s reason for interest in the field.

If the student is primarily driven by money, I’d tell them they can make more money pursuing other careers. But,  by pursuing pharmacy they’ll be able to earn a good income and directly contribute towards improving the lives and health of others. I believe this is much more valuable than just making money. 

If the student is interested in what they can do to make a difference in the world, I’d tell them that pharmacy, specifically pharmacists, are the most rapidly evolving healthcare profession in the U.S., and with evolution comes new opportunities that haven’t been discovered yet. There is plenty of opportunities to change the world in this career!

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

When I was working as a pharmacy director at a psychiatric hospital, I provided care for 20,000 patients a year. Throughout my first five years in this role, I consistently encountered the same theme of problems—many patients with severe mental illness were not able to obtain or continue medications due to challenges with insurance companies. Over and over again, the voice inside my head said, “Somebody should do something about this!”

So, I discussed this issue with my professional network of colleagues in similar practice environments, solicited advocacy groups, and communicated the problems to all of my peers—everyone shared the same concerns.

I finally realized that I had enough comprehensive knowledge of this problem, knew the detriments it was causing to patient care, and—most importantly—had an abundance of specific examples to support my claims around this concern.

I decided to go outside of my comfort zone and brought these concerns all the way up to my state’s Medicaid pharmacy director, who was unaware of the gravity of this problem. I was subsequently invited to participate in our state Medicaid managed care plan meetings.

As a result of my ongoing involvement, communications, and efforts at this venue, my state Medicaid program removed all barriers and restrictions for medications used in this population throughout the entire state. The benefit this created was way bigger than just at my hospital—it improved the access to these important medications to every patient living with severe mental illness in the state.

Meet the Pharmacist

Leslie Asanga, PharmD, MBA, MPH

Founder & CEO
Pills2Me, Inc.

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

Roseman University of Health Sciences College of Pharmacy

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

I am the founder and CEO of Pills2Mea platform aimed to give easy access to pharmacy services starting with on-demand prescription delivery. In an age where people can sit on their couch and have a pizza or burger delivered to them, there’s no reason why they cannot have their medications delivered as well.

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

At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, while I was a student at the Yale School of Public Health, I noticed an increase in prescription abandonment, as well as an increase in elderly people coming into busy pharmacies and putting themselves at risk to pick up their prescriptions. In an effort to help this vulnerable population maintain social distancing practices while still having access to essential medications, Pills2Me was born. 

I recruited my classmate and other Yale students to help with the project. We started by recruiting volunteers to help with deliveries to these vulnerable populations and have since evolved to include everyone due to popular demand.

What does a typical workday look like for you?

I work closely with all departments of the company to ensure smooth operations. This includes:

  • Daily meetings with our chief technology officer to ensure the technology we’re building is addressing all patient pain points
  • Regular meetings with strategic stakeholders to create partnerships that will help to scale the company 
  • Communicating with our director of clinical pharmacy services to continuously identify how we can use our platform to enable pharmacists to practice more efficiently

Overall, I do anything and everything needed to move the company forward. My daily tasks vary depending on the company’s current priorities. There’s never a dull moment at work!

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

The most rewarding aspect of my job is combining my pharmacy expertise with my entrepreneurial and public health background to impact thousands of people.

It’s also very exciting that there’s enough interest for us to expand and impact millions of lives and enhance the practice of pharmacy!

Describe the most challenging aspect of your role.

The most challenging aspect of my role was early communications with software engineers. I had very little knowledge of the software development life cycle, so these communications were often difficult. But, over time, I’ve learned a lot and can now clearly communicate with the development team.

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

Almost every industry has gone virtual, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet, pharmacy has been one of the biggest laggards.

To pursue a career similar to mine, I’d suggest pharmacists and pharmacy students learn more about entrepreneurship and how to use technology to solve healthcare problems. They can reach out to me or someone in a similar role and conduct an informational interview to learn more!

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

My advice would be to keep an open mind while working in a pharmacy setting and try to identify the pain points patients face in the pharmacy on a daily basis. That is the basis of the ideation process of startupsidentifying a pain point and finding a scalable solution to the problem.

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

I believe a PharmD is a very versatile degree. Being a pharmacist enables you to become a medication expert and will then open doors to careers in consulting, industry, entrepreneurship, and more. It’s a great degree no matter where your interests lie!

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

Delivering prescriptions to the elderly during the COVID-19 pandemic has been the highlight of my career as a pharmacist. I feel confident that the large amount of prescriptions delivered to the elderly via my company played a role in preventing COVID-19 transmission.

Meet the Pharmacist

Kevin Phung, PharmD

Clinical Informatics Pharmacist
Invitae

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

Pacific University School of Pharmacy

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

I was the senior clinical product manager for YouScript, a medication management clinical decision support tool which integrates pharmacogenomics (PGx) test results with drug information to provide a real-time, comprehensive report of all identified interactions.

YouScript was acquired by Invitae, a medical genetic testing company. Their vision is to harness the power of genetics and technology to make medical genetics affordable and accessible for everyone.

As a clinical informatics pharmacist at Invitae, I serve as a bridge between the clinical team and the engineering team to enhance the YouScript product and integrate it into clinical workflows.

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

Ever since I was an undergraduate student at UC San Diego, my career goal was to be an informatics pharmacist.

To reach this goal, I first graduated from Pacific University with my Doctor of Pharmacy degree (PharmD). Then, I completed my postgraduate year one (PGY-1) residency at Indiana University Health and my postgraduate year two (PGY-2) residency in pharmacy informatics at the VA in San Diego.

What does a typical workday look like for you?

I start my day running a daily scrum meeting with the engineer team to check in on the progress of the features that are being built for our upcoming release. Then, I have various meetings throughout my day with the product, clinical content, and implementation teams to discuss enhancements and existing issues.

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

As an informatics pharmacist, I find it rewarding that the product I create is used by thousands of healthcare providers, as this means I’m able to affect many patients positively.

Specifically, as an informatics pharmacist in the field of pharmacogenomics, I am working on cutting-edge technology and clinical practice which require innovative solutions.

Describe the most challenging aspect of your role.

The most challenging aspect of my role is finding innovative solutions to help make pharmacogenomics a standard of care.

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

I recommend utilizing resources and organizations like the American Association of College of Pharmacy (AACP), American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP), LinkedIn, etc. to connect with people in this field.

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

As a pharmacy student, be sure to seek out every opportunity to work on informatics projects on your rotations. Then, explore whether residency is a good fit for you. There are certification programs available for healthcare providers in pharmacogenomics.

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

I’d recommend that students speak to as many pharmacists, family, friends, and mentors in the pharmacy industry as they can. This will help them to learn about existing benefits and challenges in pharmacy to ensure that pharmacy is the right career choice for 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.

When we integrated YouScript with our first healthcare system, it was rewarding to see many pharmacists and physicians using the tool and detecting many drug-drug/drug-gene interactions for their patients that otherwise would’ve been missed.

Meet the Pharmacist

Mark Schneiderhan, PharmD

Associate Professor
Pharmacy Practice and Pharmaceutical Sciences
University of Minnesota

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, where 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 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 also 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 the partnership I have 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 profession of pharmacy 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 working the patient’s prescriber to see if the medication could be discontinued. 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 had improved quality of life for the patient!

Meet the Pharmacist

Kaitlin Bova, PharmD

Manager, R&D Quality
Moderna

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

Ohio Northern University College of Pharmacy

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

Clinical development is a major field within the pharmaceutical industry, and one that’s particularly applicable for pharmacists who bring clinical knowledge, critical thinking skills, and a patient-centered approach to new therapies.

During the drug development process, a clinical quality team like mine is tasked with the quality oversight of clinical research to ensure data integrity and to protect the rights, privacy, and safety of all participants. We’re responsible for issue management and proactive process improvement for clinical trials, as well as health authority inspection preparation and management. Additionally, the quality team handles vendor and clinical site quality oversight and conducts audits when necessary.

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

Having gone to school in the midwest, industry wasn’t on many people’s minds and it certainly wasn’t on mine. I interned at an independent compounding pharmacy and a hospital pharmacy, and I always planned to become a clinical specialist at a hospital.

After an internship in the investigational drug service (IDS) at Johns Hopkins Hospital, I knew I wanted to pursue a career in clinical research that would enable me to deliver new treatment options to patients who needed them.

I discovered that I could most actively contribute to clinical research in the industry setting, and so I chose a fellowship in quality assurance because of my interest in protecting patient rights and designing safe processes and systems. That led me to my current role.

What does a typical workday look like for you?

Like most roles, there’s no typical day at work!

I work in an office setting and most days involve meetings with the clinical trial teams and our quality team, as well as time for project-based work.

I manage my time throughout the week which gives me some control and flexibility over my work hours. However, when an urgent issue arises or a project needs to be completed our team works around the clock to complete it.

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

Because my team supports any issues that arise, we challenge ourselves to solve new problems every day with the clinical development team. It’s rewarding to use my critical thinking and communication skills to improve processes and systems to prevent issues from occurring.

Describe the most challenging aspect of your role.

In my role, I work with complex processes and systems, which can make things challenging. Thankfully, I work with experts in each component of the development process and I’m able to learn from these experts every day.

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

The Industry Pharmacists Organization (IPhO) is a great place for students (and pharmacists!) to learn about the different career opportunities in industry, including careers in clinical research.

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

Although I didn’t have industry-specific experience when applying for fellowships, I was able to demonstrate the value of the experiences that I did have to obtain my fellowship position. Communication, project management, and teamwork are some of the most important skills in many industry roles. You can use opportunities in any setting to improve these skills even those outside pharmacy-specific experience such as athletics or volunteering.

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

There are many different opportunities when pursuing a career in pharmacy. Pharmacists have the flexibility to change their career as their interests change during their training or even once in practice. My advice is to explore these various career opportunities and don’t be afraid to make adjustments!

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

Usually in my work in industry, I impact patients at the population level by bringing new therapies to market. But one experience where I was able to impact a specific patient directly has stuck with me from my fellowship.

During my fellowship, I had a teenage patient on one of our phase two clinical trials who—like many teens—wanted to be able to go on his high school class trip. I was able to work with the team to have his medication overnighted to his treatment location so he could make the class trip and also receive his treatment within the treatment window for the clinical trial.

It was a great feeling knowing that I was able to get my job done and the patient was still able to attend his trip!

Meet the Pharmacist

 

Samuel Hubler, PharmD, MSHCA, BCGP

Chief of Pharmacy
Department of Health
Muscogee (Creek) Nation

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

Harding University College of Pharmacy

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 (IHS) 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.