My STEP project revolved around exploring the various pathways of the pharmaceutical field. I spent my summer experiencing not just the community-based side of pharmacy, but also the research side of pharmacy. I gained this experience by conducting research in pharmacoepidemiology as well as by working as a pharmacy technician in a real pharmacy.
Prior to the start of this project, much of what I knew of the pharmaceutical field was simply what I was taught in class. Beyond this, I had very little exposure to the real-world aspects of pharmacy. I assumed that pharmacy was limited to local CVS’ and Walgreens. Not only that, but I also had the misconception that the majority of the duties of a pharmacist were to count pills. What I did not understand was that pharmacy is and will always be at the forefront of medicine; pharmacy is vital in the healthcare field and in everyone’s day to day lives. This is exactly what this summer made me realize.Taking on a job as a pharmacy technician brought me closer to the realities of working as a community pharmacist. It taught about a multitude of drugs, gave me a taste of the world of drug interactions, and introduced me to the many duties that a pharmacist has. I learned that it is not just counting pills anymore that makes up their duties, rather they are responsible for being a primary healthcare giver within communities. They often serve as community’s go to healthcare provider. With this in mind, they have to be fluent on medicines and what interactions they have with each other. In addition, a pharmacist’s duty extends beyond the pharmacy. They are team-based practitioners, often collaborating with other healthcare providers. All of these realizations came from working side by side with a pharmacist. Training as a technician put more perspective as to how many components there are to community pharmacy.
Moving away from community based pharmacy, embarking on research within pharmacoepidemiology exposed me to a much broader area of pharmacy. I have always wondered how much research is reallyneeded within the field. Dr. Donneyong opened a whole new world for me. He showed me that many areas of pharmaceutics are still lacking and are overlooked by many. I realized that this is an area of pharmacy that is still in dire need of attention. By having the opportunity to assist Dr. Donneyong in his research and put my input into it showed me the impact that even I, as an undergraduate student, can have. I was given a once in a lifetime opportunity to begin a research project that serves to make healthcare more efficient. I was able to apply myself on a larger scale. Just from conducting research, my outlook on pharmacy went from simply counting pills to changing the way healthcare works.
Many of the pharmacists I worked with showed true passion for their work. They took each and every question handed to them by patients and answered them with utmost care. Similarly, many of the technicians I worked with have been in the field for 20+ years. They, too, showed the same sort of interest in their field and the same sort of respect towards their patients. This was inspiring and motivating. It made me realized that the field of pharmacy is more than just a job, but it is a relationship you build with the patients. Not only that, but many of the pharmacists that trained me showed the importance of the small things in pharmacy, such as the rewards that are awarded to patients and making medicine as affordable as possible. Seeing their thirst to improve the field convinces me even more so to join this career field.
Research allowed me to build a relationship with Dr. Donneyong that provided even more insight into making successful projects. He showed me the power that every individual in this field has when it comes to bettering it. By going to Nationwide Children’s Hospital and seeing him lecture and interact with other researchers/ doctors was a new experience. Many of them, I realized, came with the intention of employing his discoveries. He has truly created a ripple within the study of pharmaceutical sciences. It was this one – on – one interaction that taught me the ins and outs of research. Prior to this, I had virtually no idea what pharmacoepidemiology even was. Though this term sounded quite specific, I realized that it encompassed more than I can think of. This interaction solidified my interest in going into the research industry pathway in the pharmacy field.
After spending over three months diving deeper into learning more about pharmaceutical field, I asked myself, “What does all of this mean for my future and I?” The answer to this was easy – the more insight I gain, the clearer I am about which path I want to take. Pharmacy is an upcoming and dynamic field. With all of the changes that are occurring, I realize that my personal interests are changing as well. From the time that I first entered college to now, my goals have changed. I can now confidentially say that pharmacy is definitely the area of specialization for me. Even more so, I can know say that I am not just interested in the clinical side of it, but even the nitty-gritty aspects like research and development of drugs. Both of these projects I took on for the summer taught me a lot about myself and what I identify most with. I realized that my mind needs more creative outlets than community pharmacy necessarily gives. However, I also need that patient- caregiver interaction as well when considering a future occupation. By recognizing this, I can say I am closer to choosing one pathway to focus on. This summer provides a solid understanding of the field prior to entering graduate school. Not only that, but it reminded me of why I chose pharmacy in the first place. It stripped the books, exams, and lectures away and allowed me to see things more holistically and in a real-world lens.