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Students in the PharmD program get hands on experience in settings like research, primary care, hospitals, and in the community.

Clinical work broadens career opportunities for PharmD students

February 22, 2023 — 

Becoming a pharmacist can be an extremely varied and rewarding career choice – something Rebecca Zimmer is discovering on her elective rotation in the WRHA’s Community IV Program.

Students in UM’s undergraduate Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) program spend their entire fourth year at different sites – like primary care, hospital, community and research – so they encounter the many settings where they could start their future careers.

The Community IV Program (CIVP) provides care to patients not admitted to hospital who require IV antimicrobials. Zimmer recently held a Q&A with UM students on Instagram to share what she is learning through her hands-on work in the program.

What’s a typical day like for you?

When I get to CIVP the first thing I do is check my inbox to see if there are important messages from nursing or the physicians that need my attention. The main role of pharmacists at this program is reviewing all new referrals to the program to ensure they are receiving the correct antibiotic and proper dose. ID (infectious disease) clinic is in the afternoon today. So, I’ll be spending some time this morning reviewing new patients.

At the clinic this afternoon, the health care team of myself (pharmacy), a nurse and a physician see each patient. Pharmacy provides information to patients about their antibiotics, provides recommendations about drug therapy and necessary bloodwork to physicians and ensures medications selected are safe and effective, as well as accessible financially to the patient.

Another main role for pharmacists here is monitoring all of the routine bloodwork and ensuring physicians are aware of critically abnormal values.

What has been the coolest fact you’ve learned in pharmacy?

My favorite fact has to be when I learned there is actual research that showed improved patient outcomes (cost, safety, etc) when pharmacists are involved on a patient’s health care team.

What route did you take for getting into pharmacy?

Prior to starting pharmacy I did one year in U1, then I did one year taking microbiology/ nutrition. If I didn’t get into pharmacy, my plan was to become a dietitian or pursue a microbiology degree.

Rebecca Zimmer

What inspired you to pursue a career in pharmacy?

I have always loved science, especially chemistry and microbiology. And I also wanted a career where I could help empower people about their health. Pharmacy seemed like the perfect fit. 😊

What has been your favorite part of the program?

Fourth year has been a blast. It is 4 x2 month blocks of practicum and a 3 month research project. I’ve worked with so many amazing pharmacists and physicians and learned a ton.

What do you wish you knew sooner?

I wish I knew the importance of networking. The connections you make in pharmacy have a huge impact on future opportunities. It’s a small world.

When should we apply?

The application deadline for PharmD is March 1!


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