Featured PILs Ambassador:
Amaka Nwagbologu, PharmD, MBA, RPh, BCPS
Internal Medicine/Pharmacy Informatics Pharmacy Specialist
Who/what inspired you to pursue pharmacy?
There are a few things that inspired me to become a pharmacist:
My father, who is a pharmacist, probably had the biggest impact on me. When we were younger, I was always so curious to know how medications actually worked in the body and how the drugs “knew where to go” when we swallowed a pill or drank a liquid. My dad noticed that interest and started teaching me about medications an an early age. I can remember the first thing I learned was how to use a counting tray and count my “tablets” (aka my M&Ms) by 5’s, pour them into my prescription bottle, and dispense them to my brother!
The amazing pharmacists and pharmacy technicians that I worked with in the community and institutional settings. I loved the way the pharmacists I worked with took their time to explain the most important aspects of each medication to a patient during their counseling sessions no matter how busy we were. I love to educate people and pass on knowledge that I have. Watching them take the extra few minutes with each patient inspired me to always put the patient first and ensure that they leave the pharmacy with the knowledge they needed to partake in their well-being.
What is the most rewarding aspect of your area of pharmacy practice?
I have a couple of areas of practice that I’ve worked in that I’ll share:
Internal Medicine: The most rewarding aspect of my internal medicine pharmacy practice is having to know quite a bit about many different disease states to provide that extra support on the internal medicine teams. Providers rely on the pharmacist’s expertise in medication management especially with dosing, monitoring, and drug interactions to make informed decisions about the patient’s treatment plan.
Pharmacy Informatics: The most rewarding aspect of my informatics pharmacy practice is having the ability to take all of my pharmacy experience and clinical knowledge and pair it with data to create, design, and improve healthcare from a system standpoint.
At what moment did you realize you were a real pharmacist?
The moment I realized I was a real pharmacist was when I worked my first shift as a graveyard pharmacist. I was responsible for covering the entire adult side of a level one trauma center hospital on my own including the emergency department, 3 ICUs, all step-down units, and the adult mental health facilities.
Which prominent figure, past or present, leadership style do you admire and why?
My leadership style very much mirrors my professional mentor’s leadership style. She is very much a hands-on leader who is not afraid to do the work that her employees do. She takes the time to really learn a process, obtain feedback on how the process is working (or not working), and strives to implement changes to improve workflow for pharmacists and technicians. She was very inspiring and encouraging and motivated me to give that same level of commitment to those I worked with whether I was a supervisor or front-line employee.
What particular aspect of your field/specialization do you foresee drastically changing in the next 5 years?
For internal medicine, I see an expansion in and a demand for ore PGY2 programs in internal medicine and more PGY2-trained pharmacists. Emergency medicine, critical care, infectious disease, and other PGY2 specialties have shown the importance of specializing, and I think the importance should spread into internal medicine.
For pharmacy informatics, I see an expansion in the roles of pharmacists in developing system workflows particularly as healthcare moves from single institutions to healthcare systems. The use of electronic records and automated system in settings other than inpatient pharmacy is becoming more commonplace and will require pharmacists to have more knowledge about different types of workflows (e.g. pharmacists, technician, physician, nurse, etc.) in each type of setting (e.g. inpatient, outpatient, clinics, etc.). As with internal medicine, I see the expansion in and demand for more PGY2 programs and trained pharamcists in informatics to help identigy and solve system-wide issues and support growing healthcare systems with the implementation of new technology/software that improve the patient safety index of these systems.
Interview by: Onye Ononogbu, PharmD and Chandler Schexnayder, PharmD, BCPS, CDE. Dr. Ononogbu and Dr. Schexnayder are staff writers for The Package Insert.