Kristin Reindel, '14

Life in Pharmacy School

What did you do to prepare for pharmacy school?

  • Completion of a Bachelor of Science in biology at Ithaca College prepared me very well for pharmacy school! The advanced biology and chemistry courses at Ithaca provided a strong foundation, and I felt this was an advantage over many of my classmates. This was especially evident in the first year of pharmacy school.

  • To prepare for the Pharmacy College Admission Test, I spent considerable time studying with review books. To prepare for pharmacy school interviews, I researched potential questions and formulated answers to the questions.  Then, I rehearsed delivering the answers in a simulated interviews. 

  • Many students work in a pharmacy as a technician in a pharmacy prior to starting pharmacy school. While this is very helpful, it is not a requirement to have pharmacy experience before starting. Before starting pharmacy school, I also shadowed a few pharmacists. This allowed me to develop a greater understanding of the many facets of pharmacy practice. 

Describe your day-to-day life in pharmacy school:

  • Life in pharmacy school definitely keeps you on your toes. The first three years were primarily classroom learning based.  With days filled with class activities, evening and weekends were filled with studying.  There were opportunities for introductory pharmacy practice rotations which gave perspective on the value of the classroom activities and studying.  The fourth year was entirely made up of clinical rotations which was a great way to expand our knowledge of the various types of practice and apply what we learned.  

  • I went to a smaller pharmacy school which I loved because much like at Ithaca the faculty were very engaged in our learning and success. Throughout school, I worked closely with several faculty members on research projects. Many evenings and weekends were spent working on the research project.  The advantage of this extracurricular activity is that it provided an opportunity to travel to conferences to present the research and publish  the work in professional journals.  

  • There were plenty of exams that required late nights…The four years went by quickly, and it was worth it in the end!

Describe your day-to-day life as a pharmacist:

  • The really cool thing about pharmacy is there are so many different practice areas! After pharmacy school you can start working right away in a community pharmacy or inpatient hospital pharmacy as a staff pharmacist. You can also complete more specialized training through residency or fellowships. Fellowships are typically through pharmaceutical companies and focused on investigational drug research. Residencies are clinically based and allow you to specialize in a variety of different practice areas including cardiology, critical care, pediatrics, oncology, transplant, ambulatory care, and many more.

  • Following pharmacy school, I chose to pursue a residency in outpatient pharmacy practice.  Currently, I am doing a residency at the University of Rochester Medical Center. Depending on what area I am working in, my days are very different.  Below are some of the areas I have worked:

    •  Post kidney and liver transplant clinic – The pharmacist meets with all patients coming to the clinic who are within a year of their transplant. Every day first thing in the morning I work up patients who are coming into the clinic. During clinic, I meet with patients to discuss their medications, identify any medication related problems, and address adherence issues. After meeting with the patients, I discuss findings with the physicians and nurses and provide recommendations for medication adjustments as needed. What I loved about working in the transplant clinic was being able to build relationships with patients and work closely with the team of providers to develop patient specific plans. Every day provided new challenges and many opportunities for pharmacy involvement in direct patient care.

    •  Outpatient pharmacy – This area is more of a traditional community pharmacy position; however, the location in the hospital lobby provided a lot of unique opportunities as well. We have a discharge program which works to provide medications to patients before leaving the hospital. It is essential that we know the patients are going home with the correct medications. Therefore, we work together with the providers to develop plans that will be safe, effective and affordable for the patient once the patient leaves the hospital.

    • Internal medicine (outpatient primary care) –  In this clinic, we have patients scheduled to come in specifically for pharmacy appointments, as well as helping the providers with medication management questions about their patients throughout the day.  Patients come in for pharmacy appointments for a variety of reasons including medication management (helping them to understand all of their medications and provide strategies to help with medication adherence), hypertension and/or diabetes management (through an agreement with the providers in the clinic, the pharmacist can make adjustments to patients medication regimen to help get these chronic disease states under control). In this clinic, there is a lot of interdisciplinary coordination of care between the pharmacist, physicians, nurses, social workers, and care management team to achieve the best outcomes for the patient.

    • Transitions of care – This is another area where pharmacists can have a huge impact on patient care. We look at the medications that patients were on prior to admission to the hospital and ensure there is an accurate, up to date list of medication in the patient's chart. Then, we look to identify if there were any problems with the patient home medication list and alert providers of any issues. While the patient is admitted to the hospital, we follow their treatment and medication changes made during their hospital course. At discharge, we work with providers to ensure the patient is going home on the correct medications, and meet with the patient to go over all of the medication changes and counsel on new medications.

  • Every day, as resident, provides new challenge and many different ways to get involved in patient care to ensure the best patient outcomes.

Describe your day-to-day life outside of pharmacy school?

  • Throughout pharmacy school, it was important to maintain a balance between studying and relaxation. The same balance is needed as a resident.  I have a horse and a dog that kept me busy outside of pharmacy school and were great stress reliever.

  • During school, I also worked as a pharmacy intern at the Outpatient Pharmacy of our local hospital. The experience provided a lot of great learning opportunities and helped to apply what I was learning in school to practice.

Is there anything that you wish you would have known before entering pharmacy school?

  •  I don’t know that there is anything specific I wish I had known. If you are considering pharmacy feel free to reach out with any questions, I am happy to help in any way! 

Is there anything that you’d go back and do differently?

  • Some pharmacy schools have the option of obtaining a master's degree in business or public health simultaneously with the pharmacy program. The school I went to just developed these options  during my time in pharmacy school so I was not able to complete them. If I was going back through school now, I think taking advantage of these programs would be of great value.