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Chicago State University College of Pharmacy
Finding Your Passion in Pharmacy
by Nancy Koo, P3
As I prepare to make the next dose of midazolam for my pediatric patient, I thought to myself “she has been here for over a month”. As I placed the label over the isolator hood and collected syringes and diluents, I suddenly hear a loud, blaring ring. I recognized the ring tone coming from the code pager that my pharmacist scrambled to grab. Then, a person stated on overhead speaker; “Code White. Code White.” Quickly my pharmacist, with a book and calculator in hand, left to report to the code in the Pediatric Cardiac Intensive Care Unit (PCICU), The other pharmacist advised me to run over to ask if we needed to prepare alteplase for the code patient. I swiftly walked over to the PCICU and took a deep breath to prepare myself. As I walked through the double doors immediately I identified which person was coding. A crowd had already surrounded the outside of the room. There were nurses, respiratory therapists, unit coordinators, and a radiology technician present. I carefully maneuvered around them to reach the code cart where my pharmacist was focused on prepping meds. I took a glance over toward the bed to see how the patient was coming along and in that critical moment I realized this child’s life was on the line. She may or may not make it and it was in our hands. The pharmacist said “go ahead and make the alteplase.” I bolted back to the satellite and I was in the isolator hood with all the things I needed to prepare the drug in less than a minute. I had the medication labeled, checked, and back to the bedside as fast as I could. After handing the syringe to my pharmacist, I watched as he handed it to the nurse who then injected it into the patient’s line. I watched as the patient began to stabilize before my very eyes. The code was over and our effort to help was successful. As I walked back to the pharmacy, I had a genuine feeling of joy.
One of the most important decisions that one can make in life is choosing a career path that they are passionate about. Not only should this career be enjoyable, but it should also fit one’s character. I am a person who loves to learn and also help others learn. I began my pharmacy career at Walgreens Pharmacy. The experience I had working at an outpatient pharmacy exposed me to a diverse community of patients. I discovered many problems that individuals have – ranging from insurance issues to misuse of medications. This gave me a very important perspective on the importance of outpatient care, drug utilization reviews, and patient counseling. I wanted to learn more about the profession; thus I was fortunate to find a position with University of California, San Francisco UCSF Medical Center Pharmacy. This afforded me the opportunity to learn about intravenous drugs, which also broadened my knowledge of different types of medications.
During my time working at UCSF, I had the opportunity to shadow different medical teams during patient care rounds alongside my attending pharmacists, which allowed me to better understand the role of interdisciplinary teams in patient care. This provided me a unique perspective on the complexities and multiple areas of pharmacy specialty. This really helped me decide on which area of focus I felt most comfortable and where I had a stronger passion to learn more. As I developed a better idea of what I wanted to learn more about, I contacted my pharmacy manager to ask about research projects where I could lend assistance. I was then partnered with a resident on a small project on missing medication requests. We collected data from the hospital computer generated requests for missing medications. I was able to extrapolate information from the data collected and make an assessment on the root cause of these events. This experience exposed me to the everyday problems of hospital pharmacy practice and gave me the opportunity to apply critical thinking and problem solving skills to help resolve specific issues.
Based upon my experiences, I feel that during the time I have spent working at both Walgreens and UCSF pharmacies, I have been able to really make a cohesive decision in where I would like to focus. One of the best pieces of advice I have heard is to reach out in whichever way possible to find your passion, and then pursue it! It is definitely a learning process, but discovering where you fit and how you would like to see yourself within the next 5-10 years requires hard work and dedication. I have been fortunate to find my specific passion in pharmacy. I urge you to find what you like to do and definitely do not settle for only what is available. Take careful considerations in your planning your future. Pharmacy school is rigorous, but once you find that passion, it will all be worth it!