AUBURN UNIVERSITY – For most students, summer is a time to relax and recharge, maybe take a class or two. For most students at the Auburn University Harrison School of Pharmacy, the summer also includes a two-week pharmacy practice rotation. But second-year pharmacy student Elizabeth Wood will spend her summer working at one of the most prestigious hospitals in the country.
Wood, a native of Vestavia Hills, Ala., will spend the summer in Rochester, Minn., at Mayo Clinic. She was selected as one of four students nationwide to work in the clinic’s outpatient pharmacy program.
“When I found out I was selected for the program, I was so excited and in absolute awe,” said Wood. “Mayo Clinic has such a wealth of opportunities, and I can’t wait to see what experiences I’ll have this summer.”
While internships are not required for Auburn pharmacy students, Wood said she saw the opportunity as an important one for helping her reach her long-term goals.
“I applied to two programs, Johns Hopkins and Mayo. I was not sure if I was going to be competitive for them or not, but I thought ‘why not go for it,’” Wood said. “I am interested in doing a residency eventually, so I thought it would be good to get clinical experience beyond working in a retail setting over the summer.
“For this program in particular, I was attracted to the outpatient setting because that is what I am interested in. I want to work in ambulatory care or in a clinic someday and this program is going to allow me to shadow an ambulatory care pharmacist with preceptors, work in all the different outpatient pharmacies they have at the Mayo Clinic and I will get to do a project and learn from the preceptors that are there.”
Mayo Clinic’s outpatient pharmacies employ about 200 people, including approximately 60 pharmacists. The pharmacies operate seven days a week and provide a variety of pharmaceutical services, including patient counseling, pharmacy specialty practices, investigational drug studies, patient education programs, prescription compounding, drug information programs, in-service education and pharmacy and therapeutics formulary committee support.
The Pharmacy Internship Clinic/Outpatient program provides a number of experiences related to the unique practice of each outpatient pharmacy located on the Mayo Clinic campus in Rochester. The program provides a variety of experiences, including providing patient counseling on medication, working with a pharmacist preceptor to gain hands-on experience with reviewing doctors’ orders, entering orders and participating in pharmacists’ interventions, providing drug information to health care providers and medical writers, training in the pharmacy compounding department and preparing a presentation for staff pharmacists on a topic related to outpatient pharmacy.
“I have shadowed a lot of clinical pharmacists and that has really shown me that I am interested in ambulatory care and I thought the outpatient program would be a good fit for me,” said Wood. “Another big thing is that Minnesota is one of the more progressive states for pharmacists. They have more responsibilities, including the opportunity to offer clinical services. I thought it would be good to go off far away and get some experiences that I could not necessarily get as of now in Alabama.”
Also included in the internship curriculum are mini-rotations of one to two days to acquaint the interns with specialty practices in the hospital or outpatient pharmacy. Available specialty practices to choose from may include anticoagulation, cardiac surgery, cardiology, critical care, drug information, hematology/oncology, hospice, medication therapy management, neurology, nutrition support, operating room, organ transplantation, patient education, pediatrics, psychiatry and surgery.
The application process for the internship runs from November until January. Wood said she did her phone interview with Mayo Clinic on Jan. 28, Auburn’s first snow day of the year. By the following Friday, she had an offer.
Along with the traditional application, phone interview and recommendation letters, Wood also had to submit a letter of intent on why she should be selected for the internship. She outlined her accomplishments at Auburn, but also discussed how the clinical work offered at Mayo Clinic plays into her future plans.
“I talked about my five-year career goal, which is basically to pursue a post-graduate year one residency and a post-graduate year two residency, potentially specializing in ambulatory care, though I am not exactly sure what specialty area beyond that at this point,” Wood said. “Eventually, I would like to work in a clinic setting, maybe also for a school of pharmacy as a professor and precept students, but also see patients at the same time.”
In her two years at the Harrison School of Pharmacy, she has been a supplemental instruction leader for Drugs and Diseases I and II, an HSOP Ambassador, president-elect of the Student College of Clinical Pharmacy and a member of American Pharmacists Association Academy of Student Pharmacists and Auburn University Student Society of Health-System Pharmacy.
She earned the Phi Kappa Phi Outstanding First Professional Year Award last year and is a recipient of the Harrison School of Pharmacy Golf Tournament Scholarship.
(Written by Matt Crouch.)