All Things Pharmacy

A blog series presented by Nancy Fjortoft, Ph.D., Dean, Chicago College of Pharmacy

Nancy FjortoftOur CCP alumni have gone on to pursue many different areas of pharmacy practice since graduating from Midwestern University. Each week in the month of October, one of our alumni will share with you their pharmacy school experiences that helped to prepare them for their careers today.

2014 Blogs:
Dr. David Tjhio, Healthcare Executive - I.T., Cerner Corporation
Dr. Negin Kiyavash, Pharmacy Operations Manager, Alexian Brothers Medical Center
Dr. Eva Agaiby, President and Director, Clinical Investigations Specialists, Inc.
Dr. Tolu Akinwale, Manager of Electronic Prescribing, Walgreens

2013 Blogs:
Dr. Bola Akinlawon, Overnight Pharmacist, Walgreens
Dr. Laura Licari, Clinical Advisor, CVS Caremark
Dr. Chase Williams, Senior Pharmacy Specialist, Sanofi US
Dr. Rinku Patel, Founder and CEO, Kloudscript, Inc.

2012 Blogs:
Dr. James Quach, Market Health & Wellness Director
Dr. Dawn Koselleck, Medical Science Liaison
Dr. Kathryn Jost, Pharmacy Clinical Manager
Dr. Jason Howard, Home Care Pharmacist
Dr. Megan Corrigan, Emergency Medicine Clinical Pharmacist

David Tjhio, Pharm.D.
Healthcare Executive - I.T.tjhio
CCP Class of 1999

My name is David Tjhio, and I received my B.S. in Pharmacy from CCP in 1998, followed by my Pharm.D. from CCP in 1999. My journey from pharmacy school to the present has been anything but conventional, and I credit my years at CCP with building an educational foundation that has helped me to succeed as my professional career has evolved along an atypical pathway.

One of the things that initially attracted me to pharmacy was the option of many different career opportunities that were possible with a pharmacy degree. While I had been leaning toward a hospital focus, my curiosity led me to explore less traditional career options. So I pursued elective classes, completed non-traditional rotations, and conducted research in the Microbiology department at Midwestern University. These experiences gave me the exposure I desired to explore different areas and narrow down my career pathway. Use your time at CCP as an opportunity to learn as much as possible, try to make the most of your education. You won't necessarily use everything that you learn, but maximizing your exposure to different areas can potentially open your career choices to options you hadn't considered before.

One of the unique experiences that I benefitted from at CCP was our assignment into groups. These groups forced us to interact with others in our class that we may not have otherwise worked with and prepared us to learn to collaborate with different people from different backgrounds who are all working toward the same goals. Since graduation from CCP, I've been able to utilize this experience to help me with interactions in my professional life.

The first was when I completed a Pharmacy Practice (PGY-1) residency at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital. During my residency, I went on clinical rounds with resident and attending physicians, nurses, and other clinical staff that were responsible for the care of the patient. After my residency, I stayed on at Advocate and served as manager of our corporate pharmacy informatics team where I had to bridge the gap between clinical and IT staff. In that role, I interacted on a daily basis with other clinical informaticists, IT analysts, pharmacists, project management consultants, and finance analysts.

Over the last 9+ years, I've worked for Cerner Corporation, a healthcare IT company based in Kansas City, Missouri. In my current role as Healthcare Executive, I travel around the country and work with a variety of clinicians, solution designers, sales associates, business developers and others internally as well as with clinicians and IT executives and analysts on the client side. I work closely with our sales team in our DeviceWorks organization with a focus on device connectivity and optimizing clinical workflow. The collaborative team approach I learned at CCP has enabled my success in a career pathway I knew nothing about in pharmacy school.

Finally, I would urge everyone to be involved in professional and social organizations during pharmacy school. I was involved with ASHP and ICHP early on during pharmacy school and currently sit on a Section Advisory Group within the Section on Pharmacy Informatics and Technology for ASHP and have also served as the Technology Chair for ICHP since 2001. Networking is a key to career growth and success, and being involved in different organizations helps to expand your networking opportunities and create invaluable professional relationships.

In my almost 17 years as a pharmacist, I've seen healthcare evolve to become more collaborative, as paper charts are replaced with electronic medical records and technology is used to improve patient outcomes. I've seen the role of the pharmacist move from a distributive focus to a more clinical focus, both on the inpatient, as well as the outpatient side. Maximize the learning opportunities that CCP provides for you, so that you can be agile enough to take advantage of new career opportunities as the profession and healthcare continue to evolve. Best of luck!

Negin Kiyavash, Pharm.D.
Pharmacy Operations Manager - Hospitalkiyavash
CCP Class of 2004

My name is Negin Kiyavash, Pharm.D. I am a graduate of CCP, class of 2004. I can't believe it has been 10 years since I graduated from CCP. Currently, I am working at Alexian Brothers Medical Center as the Pharmacy Operations Manager. I have been in this role since 2012.

In this position, I am in charge of the Pharmacy Department, which includes day-to-day operations, inventory management, staffing, and schedules. I also represent this department in various committees and initiatives. In my role, I am also the system administrator for Pyxis® technology products, as well as Swisslog BoxpickerTM automated pharmacy storage system. In addition, I represent the department during Joint Commission surveys, and any other regulatory inspections and certifications by the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), CDC, etc.

As of last year, I have also started pursuing my Masters in Business Administration (MBA) from Roosevelt University, and I attend their weekend program.

When I started pharmacy school in 2000, I had no idea where my career path was going to take me.  Like many of you, I was going to school and working as a pharmacy technician in a retail store during evenings and weekends. I was part of the last class at Midwestern that had the option of graduating with Bachelor's degree after our third year and a Pharm.D. degree after our fourth year. After graduating in 2004, I tried a number of different pharmacy positions: I worked in retail, mail-order, and long-term care before I started my first hospital management job in 2007.

Pharmacy school taught me the basic knowledge to obtain a pharmacy license and graduate as a pharmacist. But that wasn't the most important thing I gained from pharmacy school. CCP prepared me to take on new roles and responsibilities with confidence and to overcome obstacles. I made sure I took rotations in settings where I was least familiar, so I could learn as much as I could from my preceptors and experiences.

Change is part of our world and healthcare today. As students, you can prepare to manage change by learning as much as you can while you're at school and on rotations. That helped me tremendously and guided me in my career path and to achieve my goals.

I wish you all a wonderful experience at CCP and the best of luck in your future career paths as pharmacists.

Eva Agaiby, Pharm.D., CRI
President and Director agaiby
CCP Class of 1997

My name is Eva Agaiby, and I am a graduate of the Chicago College of Pharmacy Class of 1997. I was delighted to have the opportunity recently to visit your new and improved campus. CCP is offering many opportunities to students to cultivate the educational experience.

I began working in the field of clinical research as a clinical coordinator 14 years ago. In my current position, I oversee Clinical Investigations Specialists Inc. (CIS) as President and Director. This is a niche area in the pharmaceutical world that not many people are aware of. CIS contracts with pharmaceutical companies, such as Pfizer, Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk, to conduct phase I - IV clinical trials. The CIS multispecialty group of healthcare professionals, ranging from family practice to cardiology physicians and pharmacists, serves as research investigator to assist in bringing new medications to the market.

In addition to interfacing with key executives in the pharmaceutical industry, I enjoy seeing patients on a regular basis and assisting them by offering the newest treatment options that are not yet available in the public market. In some respects, clinical research is similar to ambulatory care clinics. The clinical assessments that are made on a daily basis are predicated on a sound academic foundation that I am thankful to have received at Midwestern University. I learned so much; from pathophysiology of disease states, to professional business work ethics, and applying knowledge in a clinical setting at my rotations and residency sites.

It has been extremely rewarding to witness the improvements in patients' health conditions when they initially present with uncontrolled diabetes or pain that is refractory to conventional medications that are on the market. We can offer them cutting-edge treatment options.

I define pharmacy as a recession-proof profession that offers a plethora of diverse career opportunities. The world of clinical research alone offers many options to branch out into the corporate pharmaceutical industry or into the regulatory affairs arena, such as the FDA. I encourage students to pursue residency training if possible, as this offers pivotal exposure that will catapult skills to a different level.

Whichever career path you choose, know that with each step of success there may be a challenge that will help mold your character. I believe there is a paradigm shift that is forthcoming in the pharmacy sector that will grant pharmacists more autonomy to make more impactful decisions, which will affect patients and the entire healthcare market. So, as we make our presence more known in the community, and across the nation, it is important that you remember your oath as a healthcare professional, from the day you graduate and continue to uphold your duty as pharmacists, throughout your entire careers.


Tolu Akinwale, Pharm.D.
Manager of Electronic PrescribingTolu Akinwale
CCP Class of 2013

There's an old saying that there are two primary choices in life: to accept conditions as they exist, or accept the responsibility for changing them. My name is Tolu Akinwale, and my time at the Chicago College of Pharmacy (CCP Class of 2013) inspired me to be an agent of change for the profession of pharmacy.

Pharmacists are among the most underutilized healthcare professionals, but there are many tailwinds that will position the role of the pharmacist as a frontline healthcare provider. I have the honor of working for an innovative company that is putting the pharmacist front and center in this healthcare transformation: Walgreens. I am currently the Manager for Electronic Prescribing at Walgreen's corporate office in Deerfield, IL. In this role, my responsibilities are at the intersection of healthcare information technology and pharmacy practice. My day-to-day duties include the management and support of our e-prescribing platform to meet technical and regulatory standards, and the improvement of its functionality to further enhance the patient experience.

My pharmacy journey started as an aspirational goal when I was in Nigeria, and eventually lead to CCP. Once I was accepted into the program, I enjoyed the overwhelming support of dedicated faculty and mentors that passionately delivered the learning experience using modern technology in a comfortable environment, thereby enabling me to focus on learning and personal development. Additionally, CCP offered many opportunities for professional development through the various campus organizations and other extracurricular activities.

As I look back at how far I've come, I am very grateful for my time at CCP because of the lifelong relationships I have built, the lessons learned, and the opportunities that have risen as a result. Concepts such as teamwork, professionalism, and the power of networking were impressed upon us at every opportunity, and their importance couldn't be more glaring once I stepped into the real world. Another thing I learned is that being able to complete a rigorous Pharm.D. program and obtain pharmacy licensure is a baseline in the profession and a good thing indeed; however, the additional and sometimes non-traditional experiences are what really make you stand out.

As a student with an interest in unique career pathways, I appreciated the periodic communication from the Dean's office regarding non-traditional learning and scholarship opportunities available to students, as these were critical in shaping my pharmacy career path. To cite a few examples, some of these communications led to my application and completion of a prestigious summer internship with Takeda Pharmaceuticals in Pharmacovigilance, and a yearlong executive fellowship with the National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) Foundation that focused on public health and patient care research. The latter was a life-changing opportunity that allowed me to impact the profession at the national level early in my career.

If I had to pass on pearls, I would tell aspiring pharmacists to be curious and step outside of their comfort zone. Learn all you can while in pharmacy school and never discount any experience or opportunities. Pharmacy is a very small world, but it is also a very rewarding profession with diverse opportunities upon graduation. I would also encourage students to identify ways to have fun while at it and identify how to maintain a balance to stay the course.

While I have been curious and expanded my professional horizons, I have stayed true to what drew me to the pharmacy profession in the first place - the patient. Therefore, while I may not currently provide patient care directly, I am happy knowing that what I do enhances patient safety across the country and allows tens of thousands of Walgreens pharmacists to have more time to deliver excellent patient care and make people live, get better, and stay well. Without a doubt, CCP prepared me well for this role, and to be an agent of change for the profession of pharmacy!



Bola Akinlawon, Pharm.D.
Overnight PharmacistBola Akinlawon
CCP Class of 2006

My name is Bola Akinlawon, and I graduated from the Chicago College of Pharmacy with the class of 2006. Prior to gaining admission to Midwestern, I knew that I enjoyed helping people from all walks of life. While I was a student at CCP, I worked as a pharmacy intern. When I graduated, I continued working as a staff pharmacist; then in 2009 I started working as an overnight pharmacist at Walgreens.

People often inquire about my duties as an overnight pharmacist. In addition to all the services provided in a retail pharmacy, a great number of patients have a need for medications that are not pharmaceutically available, or are temporarily unavailable. Examples include compounding Progesterone suppositories, Testosterone capsules, and Enalapril suspension, especially for the pediatric population. The overnight pharmacist will compound such medications tailored specifically to the needs of the patient.

When I started pharmacy school in 2002, I wasn't sure whether I was going to work as a pharmacist in a hospital setting or as a community pharmacist. I had volunteered in both, and I had acquired a good understanding of what to expect from each practice setting. I still had no clue as to which direction or career path to take. Thankfully, the variety of coursework at CCP prepared me for my current job.

As I look back on those experiences at Midwestern that contributed to shaping my career path, I must say that I was very fortunate to have had incredibly amazing teachers, preceptors, and mentors that willingly offered good advice.

What I have learned is that networking is the key that opens the doors to a lot of opportunities. I hope that this blog entry will help to encourage current students to take advantage of all the opportunities they have in order to explore the various niches of pharmacy.


Laura Licari, Pharm.D.Laura Licari
Clinical Advisor
CCP Class of 2006

Thank you for stopping by this blog series, All Things Pharmacy. My name is Laura Licari, and I graduated from CCP in 2006. If you attended the last month's Alumni Networking Breakfast, then hopefully we had a chance to meet in person. Coming back to campus and participating in student events is just one of many activities that keep me excited about our profession. I enjoy meeting other practitioners and learning about the many avenues of pharmacy practice. I currently practice at CVS Caremark as a Clinical Advisor. I help Caremark clients implement our clinical programs and manage their pharmacy spend.

During my four years at CCP, I didn't understand and therefore didn't participate in all of the opportunities available for professional growth. I worked part-time as a pharmacy intern at Osco Pharmacy, as well as for the Illinois Eye Bank, a non-for-profit that procures corneal tissue for transplantation. During school I lived at home, and I didn't understand that being more involved would satisfy my sense of community and enthusiasm for pharmacy. I was co-chair of APhA-ASP Operation: Diabetes program, and learned a lot about managing community glucose screenings. In 2005, I attended APhA's annual meeting, which was a great experience to network with other pharmacy students.

However, I never attended an IPhA annual meeting until 2010. I never attended a meeting of a local pharmacy chapter until I joined North Suburban Pharmacists Association (NSP) in 2011. I never attended the IPhA/ICHP-sponsored Legislative Day until 2012. Even with MWU and specifically Dr. Cornell encouraging me to become more involved, I felt I 'couldn't' make the time, rather than seeing that I 'wouldn't' make the time.

In retrospect, I can see that CCP provided the opportunities and networks to prepare me for a very successful career in pharmacy. I am now on the Board of Directors for IPhA (since 2010), the Board of Directors for NSP (since 2012), and next year will be my third year attending both the APhA and IPhA annual conferences.

I know it feels like a struggle just to meet academic deadlines, I honestly remember all too well. But I can tell you that making time to be more involved in campus activities, joining the e-board of an association or attending professional networking events will help you feel connected to why you're working so hard towards that Pharm.D. I wish I could go back in time and tell that to myself in 2002.

Good luck to all of you. Remember, your job is what you do, your profession is who you are.


Chase Williams, Pharm.D.Chase Williams
Senior Pharmacy Specialist
CCP Class of 2006

My name is Chase Williams, and I am a graduate of the CCP Class of 2006. I am a Senior Pharmacy Specialist at Sanofi US, a global leader in the healthcare industry. I have the privilege of working on a new team dedicated to providing clinical education and resources to pharmacists and other key members of the healthcare team. Our focus is on diabetes and immunizations, and I partner with other pharmacists to identify initiatives that will help improve the lives and health of patients with diabetes. Currently, I also attend Loyola University Chicago where I will graduate with my masters in business administration this month.

After graduating from pharmacy school, I served in the United States Army for five years, where I served as an Officer. The decision to join was very difficult. I faced many challenges in the military, and the learning curve was steep. During this time, I held various positions including a deployment with a combat support hospital to Afghanistan in 2011. Just prior to working at Sanofi US, I worked at both Walgreens and Walmart. Both were extremely rewarding experiences.

Midwestern University gave me the tools necessary to be a well-rounded pharmacist and a confident leader. While I was a pharmacy student, I served as Regent of Kappa Psi Pharmaceutical Fraternity and enjoyed the friendships I developed throughout my time at the University. The faculty at Midwestern are extremely dedicated to students and the profession of pharmacy, and I encourage you to utilize your time at the College to learn as much as possible.

My advice to you as you continue along your career path is to always take on opportunities that present themselves, especially the ones that take you out of your element. It's during these challenges that we grow most as individuals. Identify your strengths and weaknesses. Understand your weaknesses, and identify opportunities to help strengthen these. Whether it's public speaking, being a leader, or decision making, everyone has areas they feel need improvement. Don't be afraid to fail. If you don't fail then you are probably not utilizing your skill set to its maximum potential. Most importantly, always take time out to have fun. The friendships you will develop in school now will continue in one way or another throughout your career.


Rinku Patel, Pharm.D.Rinku Patel
Founder and CEO
CCP Class of 2002

Little did I know that my part-time job in high school would lead me into the wonderful world of pharmacy! My name is Rinku Patel, and I graduated from CCP in 2002! I am a Founder and CEO of KloudScript, a company focused on providing business framework to independent retail pharmacies, so that pharmacists can provide face-to-face care for patients that are on high-cost, high-complexity, specialty medications. Previously, I was a Group Vice President responsible for business development at one of the most recognized independent specialty pharmacies in the country, Diplomat.

As I started to write this blog, I could not resist the urge to dig out my CCP yearbooks, pictures and even med-chem handouts upon which my dear friends had authored hilarious rhymes. It was like yesterday! I remember in my fourth year, as the graduation day came close, the realization of having to enter the "real world" hit me hard! Working in a retail pharmacy throughout college, I was aware of what "a day in a life of a retail pharmacist" was like. I was keenly focused on finding a job that satisfied my urge to do something "out of the box." Luckily, at one of the student networking events, I met someone that helped me get my first job as an IT pharmacist at Caremark. Since then, I have had the privilege to work with terrific colleagues and inspirational managers at Caremark and OptionCare. Although they mentored me in moving ahead, I truly believe that my strong foundation for future growth was built at CCP.

I was able to participate in many CCP activities ranging from student council to various professional organizations, and even take part in a summer research opportunity. In addition, the management classes, home-infusion elective, unique rotation experiences, many professors, preceptors, as well as the administrative team at CCP all contributed to my knowledge base. I also learned important skills of teamwork, time management, leadership, and even public speaking. All of which are crucial in my current role.

Upon graduation, I realized that the relationship with alma mater does not end on the day of graduation. I am able to stay connected to the College through the CCP Alumni Council and activities throughout the year that allow me to network. There is no doubt in my mind that pharmacy is a terrific profession, and that CCP is a fine institution. At the same time, what you get out of it is a function of the initiative and effort you put forth. Pharmacists are able to practice pharmacy in many ways, and their roles continue to evolve. Take the time to meet people in your profession that inspire you; try to build an ongoing dialogue them; ask them to mentor you. Networking is an everyday effort that requires giving as well as receiving. If you do connect with mentors that are kind enough to take the time out for you, then figure out ways to be resourceful to them as well. It will go a long way in getting a recommendation for a job that can put you on the path of our own inspiring journey! My best wishes to all of you.


2012 Blogs

James Quach, Pharm.D.
Market Health & Wellness Director
CCP Class of 2006

My name is James Quach, and I am a graduate of the Chicago College of Pharmacy class of 2006. I have had the privilege of serving the Chicago area in pharmacy management roles at Walgreens and most recently with Walmart as a Market Health & Wellness Director. In this position, I am an operations leader for the northern Illinois area which is comprised of 13 pharmacies and 11 vision centers. My areas of responsibility include sales and profit, merchandising, compliance, patient care, asset protection, and human resources. I oversee 24 direct reports and work cooperatively with hundreds of others. Together as a team, this year we will achieve 100 million dollars in sales.

When I started pharmacy school in 2002, I knew that my heart was in community pharmacy with aspirations to advance in the corporate setting. As a student, I often asked myself "How will I get there?" and "What training or tools will I need to help me be a successful leader?" Much like building a house, every good architect must have all the necessary tools at their disposal. Through my experiences at Midwestern, I was able to take those valued lessons and put them in my tool box, so that one day I could apply what I learned from those past situations to make me a successful leader.

For me, it was the courses like Pharmacy Management that introduced me to the financial world of pharmacy operations. There was also the dynamics of working in groups on presentations and various projects that helped me build interpersonal communication skills that I use today as a leader. In our student group projects, we did not always agree on answers, or on how things should be done, but these interactions with my peers taught me to be more open to other ideas. These social experiences were valuable as they gave me the opportunity to learn by witnessing different personalities all working together to achieve the same common goals.

People often ask what I do as a Market Health & Wellness Director, and I tell them that I am in the business of leveraging talent. Yes, at the end of the day it is about quality patient outcomes, compliance, sales and profit, etc., but more importantly it is about leading people and leveraging what they do best, so that we can be successful in these other areas.

My role today has allowed me to stay connected to Midwestern students and faculty thru alumni events and career fairs as I represent Walmart. I enjoy sharing my life lessons and experiences that helped guide me to find my calling in pharmacy, and I hope those reading this blog will find theirs as well.

Dawn Koselleck, Pharm.D.
Medical Science Liaison
CCP Class of 2006

My name is Dawn Koselleck, and I have been working as a Medical Science Liaison (MSL) for Abbott Laboratories for six years. When I started with Abbott as an MSL, I was part of our cardiovascular/dyslipidemia team. Currently, I am in the immunology franchise. MSLs are a field-based group of M.D.'s, Ph.D.'s, and Pharm.D.'s, who support and discuss research projects, respond to unsolicited medical information, assist and support internal training and education, and attend scientific conferences. The primary role is to network, establish, and maintain relationships with key opinion leaders in the community and academic setting involved in research and education.

Prior to pharmacy school, I worked as a sales representative in the pharmaceutical industry. This gave me the opportunity to learn the industry and interact with the MSL team. I knew this was an area I wanted pursue after pharmacy school, but unfortunately, I did not fully understand the role or the requirements to become an MSL.

At the time I was in pharmacy school, there were not any classes or electives to assist me with gaining this understanding. Fortunately, during my ambulatory care rotation, I had an amazing preceptor who always inquired about the career options her students were considering, and if possible, she would help in any way she could. In my case, she was able set up a meeting for me with one of the MSLs that she worked with. During this meeting, the MSL discussed how she came about her career choice and helped me further understand the role of the MSL. In addition, she provided insight into how I could become a better candidate. This individual was extremely knowledgeable and passionate about her role as an MSL. Having that similar passion in what I do is so important to me. She really inspired me to further pursue this career opportunity.

Being able to interpret research data and having a strong knowledge of research methods is so critical to my role. Fortunately, while in pharmacy school, I was also able to work on a diabetes research project with one of the faculty. This was an extremely valuable experience and provided me with knowledge about conducting research, as I was able to see first hand the challenges and intricacies involved.  

I would also like to mention that there have been a number of pharmacy classes that have been very instrumental in helping me have a successful career as an MSL. To this day, I refer back to my notes from these classes:

As I look back on my experiences in pharmacy school that helped shape my career path, I must say I am fortunate to have had so many amazing teachers, preceptors, and mentors that were always willing to assist me and provide me with interesting opportunities. These individuals are truly there for the students' development, and students should use them whenever possible. In addition, students should always work to build their network. This is a key success factor for my role as an MSL. I would like to wish everyone the best of luck as they start thinking about their future career opportunities.

Kathryn Jost, Pharm.D.
Pharmacy Clinical Manager
CCP Class of 2004

I can't believe it has been eight years since I graduated from Midwestern University's Chicago College of Pharmacy. If you asked me when I started pharmacy school where I would end up, I would have said retail without hesitation. Retail was the environment I was comfortable with; it was the reason why I decided to become a pharmacist. It wasn't until I was on rotation that I discovered I felt more at home in a hospital setting. My preceptors encouraged me to continue to cultivate my clinical skills by pursuing a residency.  The next thing I knew, I was a PGY1 resident at Cardinal Health. My residency was the most challenging and rewarding year, and it helped me decide that clinical pharmacy management was the road I wanted to follow.

I currently work at Vista Health System in Waukegan, Illinois, as a Clinical Manager. It's a job that I truly love because of the variety of responsibilities, which include developing and refining clinical programs based on the needs of the patients and the hospital, formulary management, serving as a clinical resource for physicians and nurses, and precepting our PGY1 resident and fourth-year pharmacy students.

Aside from my management duties, I still enjoy counseling patients. I am the bariatric pharmacist on our multidisciplinary team that helps patients with their weight loss surgery from start to finish. My role on the team is comprehensive. I educate patients prior to surgery on which medications to avoid, how to take their medication after bariatric surgery, and monitor parameters for each medication.  While our patients are in the hospital, I round with the surgeons, nurses and dietician initiating and adjusting medications based on the clinical status of the patient. I appreciate when patients call me with questions or just want to give me an update on their progress. It validates why pharmacy was the right career for me.

My rotation experiences and preceptors have guided me toward a fulfilling career as a clinical practitioner and manager, and I will forever be grateful to Midwestern University for my experiences.  As students, don't be afraid to take advantage of the wide variety of rotations to select from and keep an open mind. You never know what might interest you. Hopefully you will find that area of pharmacy that keeps you going back for more!

Jason Howard, Pharm.D.
Home Care Pharmacist
CCP Class of 2009

In the short time since my graduation from Midwestern University's Chicago College of Pharmacy, I've quickly realized the value of the Pharm.D. degree. A pharmacist with the doctor of pharmacy degree has the opportunity to excel in a variety of paths: from independent, to chain retail, to specialized clinical applications.

Prior to applying to pharmacy school, I worked in an independent pharmacy in a rural community. As a pharmacy technician, I looked up to the proprietor, who was the quintessential picture of a pharmacist. This small town pharmacist knew his customers, their medical problems, and the names of all their grandchildren. This is how I wanted to practice pharmacy.

While in pharmacy school, I enjoyed working as an intern in a chain retail setting: first at Walgreens, then later at CVS. I learned about counseling patients, administering vaccines, and far more than I ever wanted to know about prescription drug insurance coverage. I learned how to work very quickly and efficiently. Although I still thought about opening my own pharmacy in the future, I planned on working at a community pharmacy for several years.

During pharmacy school I was active in Phi Delta Chi and APhA, where I learned about being an advocate for the pharmacy profession. I recognize that there is a need for ongoing legislation reform to continue to advance the profession, and I remain active in support of various initiatives.

Today, I am privileged to work as a clinical staff pharmacist for a home infusion company for a little more than three years now. Prior to entering pharmacy school, and throughout my pharmacy training, I had very little exposure to home care. Then I was presented with the opportunity to work for Critical Care Systems, and it sounded like a new and interesting challenge. I really enjoy my work with this company. It has given me the chance to get to know a select group of patients incredibly well, as I provide them with their medications week in and week out. It has allowed me to build that trusting patient-pharmacist relationship that I had aspired to. Frequently, I am the first person a patient calls with medical questions, even those beyond pharmaceutical concerns. I work closely with physicians to monitor labs, adjust doses, and formulate total parental nutrition. I am a part of a true health care team that includes intake, insurance, nursing, technicians, and delivery staff.

I hope that this blog entry will encourage current and perspective students to look at the true spectrum of pharmacy: to consider professional niches beyond retail pharmacy and investigate careers in some of these more specialized areas.

Megan Corrigan, Pharm.D., BCPS Megan Corrigan, CCP
Emergency Medicine Clinical Pharmacist,
CCP Class of 2006

My name is Megan Corrigan, and I graduated from CCP in 2006. After earning my degree, I completed a PGY1 residency at Rush University Medical Center, followed by a PGY2 residency in Emergency Medicine at Detroit Receiving Hospital in Detroit, MI. I currently practice as an Emergency Medicine Clinical Pharmacist at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Chicago. In addition, I am a board certified pharmacotherapy specialist, as well as a BLS and ACLS instructor. I am very involved not only with emergency services in the hospital, but also pre-hospital care and city-wide preparedness. I established these clinical services in emergency medicine at Illinois Masonic a little more than four years ago. 

If you would have asked me while I was in pharmacy school if this is where I thought I would be after graduation, I would have definitely said no. I went into pharmacy school thinking I was going to work in retail pharmacy and not step foot in a hospital aside from my rotations. Boy, was I wrong!  During school, we didn't have as many electives to choose from as students do today. I chose to take both a "Toxicology" elective and a "Drugs of Abuse" elective. During these classes, I began to realize that I really liked the acute side of treatment, but I still wasn't sure I wanted to do it full time. 

As I started rotations, I chose a variety of rotations because I was still uncertain what I wanted to do with my career. I was realizing that retail wasn't for me, but I didn't know where to turn. I know some students think they know what they like and tailor their rotations to that specific area without trying anything new. But I am so glad that I chose the rotations that I did! I ended up driving all over the city every six weeks, but I learned more with each new rotation. The rotation that changed my view on my future plans was my elective rotation at the Cook County Jail. I rotated with pharmacists, physician assistants, and physicians. Seeing the acute and chronic care they provided to the inmates really opened my eyes. From that moment on, I knew I wanted to change the path of my career and become a more clinically-based practitioner. It wasn't until my first few rotations as a PGY1 that I realized I wanted to pursue a PGY2 in Emergency Medicine. 

Additionally, I joined a few clubs in school. I worked a lot during school, too. One of my favorite clubs was the Geriatric Club. It was an inter-disciplinary club where we worked with CCOM students to enhance geriatric awareness and visit some of the geriatric patients in the Downers Grove community. I think this began to foster a lifelong relationship with physicians. I now work side-by-side with physicians every day as a well-respected member of the medical team. By experiencing interdisciplinary care early in my career, I now flourish working with all disciplines of medicine in the emergency department. 

I can't say I remember everything I learned in pharmacy school. I know I have forgotten a lot since I graduated. I'm pretty sure that's normal. But the things I remember today are the ones that continue to impact my career on a daily basis. These are lifelong lessons about thinking outside the box, not being afraid to try something new, and about having mutual respect for everyone. These lessons have taken me far, and I know they will continue to guide the way I practice in the future. Without the solid base of knowledge and experiences that I gained in pharmacy school, I wouldn't be where I am. For that, I am eternally grateful.