Are You There Consultants? It’s Me, Melody.

Melody A. King

South Carolina College of Pharmacy, Doctor of Pharmacy Candidate, Class of 2018

As a fourth year pharmacy student, with a passion for long-term care, I tried to set up as many long term care and chronic disease state APPE rotations as possible. I was successful in that 6/9 rotations revolve around caring for older adults including inpatient oncology at Walter Reed Hospital, Bishop Gadsden, a long term care facility, and a variety of others. In my current APPE rotation at ASCP, I have been privileged to expand my knowledge as it relates to consultant and long term care pharmacy. ASCP’s mission to promote healthy aging through appropriate use of medications while holding the interests of the patients first, strongly matches my personal career goals. With the current senior population expected to more than double by 2050, it is clear to me that the importance of advocating and caring for our geriatric population cannot be understated.

For as long as I can remember, I've wanted to be a medical professional and help those in need. I love helping seniors, whether it is my grandparents, or my patients at the pharmacy I work for. My desire to work with older adults came full circle during my undergrad studies at Clemson University (Go Tigers!). My roommate and I volunteered at a local nursing facility. Before our first trip, we had visions of playing BINGO, maybe doing an exercise class, or even helping with a painting class. However, our first impression was, well, depressing. I expected to see grandmas and grandads living the glorious retirement life; what I saw instead was grandmas and granddads sitting in silence, in their wheelchairs, in the main corridor. They were lost in their own thoughts. I sat right next to “Miss Martha” in the den and asked her about her family and what activities she enjoyed… No response, so I cranked up my volume, “MS. MARTHA, WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE FOOD?!” She managed a smile, and then I followed with, “I LOVE PANCAKES!” Needless to say, everyone in that nursing facility knew what my favorite food was, including Ms. Martha!

After hearing their stories, and learning about their families, personalities, and routines, I felt like I was making a positive impact in their lives just by showing up each week with a smile, and lending a helping hand. I helped patients with organizing their medications into weekly pillboxes. I learned that “Mr. George” would only drink orange juice with his scheduled medications. But regardless, I expected to see sisters, brothers, children and grand children visiting their loved ones. I expected to see their families making sure they were happy, and eating right. Yet in reality, some of my new older adult friends were, for a lack of a better word, forgotten. It was then that I realized, some seniors do not have families, or anyone outside the facility to check on them.

Since then, it has been my goal and ambition to make an inevitable aging situation, a little more cheerful. My drive to work with geriatrics stems from this. I have realized, that it is up to us, as health care providers and medical professionals to care for them, not only with mental and behavioral support, but also as an advocate for their overall health and well-being.

Fast forward to today. As a PharmD candidate, everything seems to be lining up. I have a direction in which I feel passionate about and I have rotations revolving around my goal to work in long term care. I'm now ready for the next step in pursuing an opportunity as a consultant pharmacist. My goal is to ensure patient health and quality of life by guaranteeing medications are appropriate and safe. I am eager to help our most respected citizens by preventing and resolving medication errors. Meanwhile, being one who takes time to know each patient by name and not just by their medical chart as well as one who can be trusted and counted on by physicians, nurses and other health care professionals for valuable advice.

Consultant pharmacists, how can a soon-to-be PharmD graduate, like myself, work toward being a consultant pharmacist? All advice welcome.

Melody, future consultant pharmacist (fingers crossed*).

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