When It’s Okay to Walk in Someone Else’s Shadow

Happy third day of fall! Although we’ve moved on to another season, I can’t help but make my very first post about this past summer. It’s better late than never, right?

The highlight of my summer was probably sitting on a beach in Costa Rica with some close friends, on my birthday, sipping a margarita. The “lowlight” was coming back home to Maryland and realizing that I had just finished my first year of pharmacy school, yet still had zero idea of what I wanted to do after graduating with a PharmD degree. *Cue massive freakout*

As confused as ever about my future, I decided to take action. I asked to shadow three of my professors in their respective practice settings, in the hopes of gaining a better idea of what clinical pharmacists do on a day-to-day basis and coming to some sort of decision about which pharmacy path to pursue. Luckily for me, all three professors were more than happy to have me tag along for a day.

  • I started out with Dr. Leah Sera at MedStar Mongtomery Medical Center. Dr. Sera is the pharmacist in a palliative care consulting group that also comprises a physician, a nurse practitioner, and a social worker. I got a glimpse of Dr. Sera’s involvement with helping seriously ill patients and their families make tough, end of life decisions.
  • Next, I shadowed Dr. Ashlee Mattingly at Mercy Health Clinic, which provides free services to low income adults in Montgomery County. Here, I had the opportunity to see Dr. Mattingly in action, conducting a medication therapy management session for a patient.
  • Finally, I spent a day at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital. I followed fourth year rotation students, Jesse and Leslie, as they worked up patient cases, went on rounds, performed medication reconciliation, and made drug recommendations. I also got to see my professor, Dr. Amy Ives, review patient cases with Jesse and Leslie and quiz them about drug-drug interactions!

For me, it wasn’t enough to sit in class and learn about what clinical pharmacists can do. I had to see for myself what it’s actually like to be there as a pharmacist in the hospital or outpatient setting. Do I know exactly what I want to do after graduating pharmacy school now? Nope! But I did learn so much during those three days and my desire to work directly with patients in optimizing their medication regimens has been reaffirmed.

Sometimes, it’s perfectly fine to walk in someone else’s shadow! And if you can fit it into your own schedule, I highly encourage you to seek out shadowing opportunities either from your professors at USG or anyone else. Trust me, you’ll be so glad that you did!

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