Initially, my project was supposed to be an observational study at the epilepsy clinic at the Martha Morehouse clinic. Due to limited patients that could be included, this project has been placed under hiatus. Instead, I have been spending time working with Dr. McAuley and self-paying for trips to the clinic, data entering, and using the money on studying tools for the PCAT.
Despite the fact that my project never took off, I could honestly say that the experience as a whole has been transformational. I am currently studying pharmaceutical sciences, and as my graduation date draws near, it’s hard not to get scared of the future. Yes, I still have 4 years of pharmacy school left, but there are so many fields within the pharmaceutical world that it is still too early for me to know what I want. Working in the clinic as a student research assistant has helped me develop some views on the clinical research side of pharmacy. Moreover, I have developed a strong rapport with the professor I worked with, and learned more from him about patient interactions than I could in a classroom setting.
Working with Dr. McAuley has been a huge honor for me. Sitting as the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in the College of Pharmacy, he is a very busy man with very important things on his plate. Despite all this, Dr. McAuley has always tried his best to fit me into his schedule and we have been working together since 2014. Dr. McAuley has vouched for me on a few occasions as well, and there isn’t a faculty member on this campus that I respect more than him.
Through working with Dr. McAuley, one of the experiences we had was hosting a medication reconciliation event at the YMCA. I only shadowed because this event was mainly for pharmacy students who were better suited at giving advice on drug-drug interactions, but it was still very eye opening. I had the pleasure of speaking to a gentleman who was waiting his turn in the line and he seemed so grateful to me that I would take time out of my weekend just to observe what was going on; I didn’t really have anything to gain per se. Seeing the appreciation in the eyes of the local community revitalized my hunger to become the best clinical pharmacist I can be. Though it was only a short encounter, I’ll never forget that gentleman.
Throughout this experience I have learned that I may be better suited for a more patient-oriented career than a research-oriented career; bedside over bench if you will. Even though I have yet to start pharmacy school I believe I have already made up my mind on what my end goal will be; clinical pharmacy, hospital pharmacy, and eventually pediatric pharmacy. I want to see that glimmer in every patient’s eyes and I don’t think I can gain that from working in a laboratory.
This was a very valuable experience that I am so grateful for. My STEP professor, Dr. Whittington, introduced me by chance to Dr. McAuley while we were figuring out a project for me. It was such a stroke of luck that I happened to be in her group and that she happened to know him. Thanks to the STEP program, I think I found my destiny in the pharmaceutical field and I could not be more thankful.