There are many specialties within the profession of pharmacy. If transplant is a specialty you are considering, this post can help you. Learn from a transplant pharmacist here.
Authored By: Daniel R. Migliozzi, Pharm.D., BCPS
In deciding on a career path to pursue following high school, it was the basic sciences of chemistry and biology that led me to pursue a career in Pharmacy. As I think back on my perceptions of what I might do as a future pharmacist, I recall envisioning myself working in a laboratory or the pharmacy of a hospital, compounding various medications for patients. And even though I had an opportunity to work in the pharmacy at Massachusetts General Hospital before beginning Pharmacy School, I still had no idea about what contributions I could make as a future pharmacist in providing direct patient care.
As a pharmacy student at Northeastern University’s College of Pharmacy, I became aware of the impact that pharmacists can have on improving patient care. I was intrigued by the thought of working directly with patients, along side doctors, and in conjunction with other healthcare professionals to improve the health of my patients. As a student I also discovered a passion for immunology. I became fascinated with the immune system, its complexities, and the various roles immune cells play in the body.
As I wondered how I could combine my passion for direct patient care with a fascination for immunology, the answer came to me during my last year of pharmacy school. I had a transplant advanced pharmacy practice experience (APPE, rotation) at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.
Fast-forward several years. Now, after practicing as a hospital pharmacist and completing 2 years of post-graduate residency training (specializing in transplant), I am a practicing transplant specialist pharmacist. As I reflect on my experiences over the last years, several lessons can be learned. The following represent my reflections regarding previous expectations versus the realities I have encountered both in pursuit of becoming a transplant pharmacist and as a transplant pharmacist.
1. I never expected that patients would look to me for help outside of work
I have had patients contact me for help with their medications when I am out of the office. Although some may consider this a violation of proper work life balance, it has been a humbling experience for me. I find it rewarding to have this rapport with my patients and I consider this evidence of the value I bring to the care of my patients.
2. I had not anticipated that surgery and other non-pharmacy disciplines would impact me so much
In order to be a successful transplant pharmacist, you sometimes need knowledge pertaining to the surgery itself. While I do not routinely observe transplant surgeries, I have observed kidney and liver transplantations. These experiences have been invaluable, because they have enabled me to appreciate obstacles that may be encountered within the operating room. Having an understanding of the surgical challenges allows for a better appreciation of both the patient’s needs as well as the important role each component of the transplant team plays.
3. I did not expect to work weekends or staff as a clinical pharmacist
Being a pharmacy specialist, I thought that I would only have responsibilities pertaining to solid organ transplantation (e.g., rounding services, clinic time). However, this is not the case. I quickly learned that being a clinical pharmacist in a specialized area does not always mean that you will be exempt from working weekends or staffing in areas not relating to your specialty.
Contrary to what one may expect, I welcome the opportunity to staff or work weekends, since these experiences allow me to refine my skills in other areas and maintain my non-transplant clinical knowledge. Being involved in weekend staffing also fosters a teamwork approach within pharmacy departments and prevents separation between various members of the pharmacy team. It remains a valuable part of my professional experience.
4. I expected to have mentees lining up
I find that transplantation is not a subject well integrated into pharmacy school curricula. As a result, pharmacy students may not have the knowledge needed to identify transplant pharmacy as a career option nor the skills to contribute to the transplant team. I hope to help change this.
It has always been my goal and desire to teach pharmacy students about how rewarding transplant pharmacy can be. Because of mentors I have had in my career, I always had the sentiment that I wanted to follow in their footsteps and give back to pharmacy education through mentorship.
5. I expected to do a residency after working as a pharmacist for a few years
After graduation, I took the non-traditional route of working for two years as a pharmacist prior to pursing post-graduate residency training. Not many pharmacy students consider this career path, but it is important that others know it is a viable career path to choose. For those students who may not feel ready or prepared to complete residency after graduation, I always encourage consideration of residency training at a later time. If I can do it and find success, you can too!
IF YOU LIKED THIS ARTICLE, YOU MAY ALSO LIKE: