Pharmacist Feature Friday: My Journey into Specialty Pharmacy
Author: Peter Griffin, PharmD
I originally majored in chemistry in college, but I missed interacting with different people every day. In pharmacy, I knew I’d get to help people. I kind of fell into specialty pharmacy and am really glad I did.
During rotations in last year of pharmacy school, I did a 10-week rotation under Heidi Burres, PharmD, and Allyson Schlichte, PharmD, where I learned about the many aspects of Medication Therapy Management (MTM). I liked working directly with the physicians and the challenges of the different patients. This led me to pursue a residency in the same field.
After completing this residency, I was hired as the specialty MTM pharmacist in the liver and kidney clinic at the University of Minnesota Health Clinics and Surgery Center; my role was mostly to support the liver and kidney patients by helping them manage multiple medications.
I then expanded my role to include working with hepatitis C patients and post-transplant patients (heart, lung, kidney, and pancreas), as well. These patients now make up the majority of my work. I have seen patients with almost every transplant on the list. The first time I meet them, some of these patients are taking 9 to 15 new medications and taking them 8 times per day. We can often combine many of those doses; we can make their medication management easier, and it’s very rewarding.
It’s great to see a patient 5 days post-transplant and see them doing much better. It’s so rare in the field where you have someone who is extremely sick, and then you’re able to bring them back to a pretty normal life.
It’s especially true for patients with hepatitis C. Many of them have had this cloud hanging over their head for 20 years of their lives, and with the medication now available, I can tell them, “In 3 months, you will be fine.” Making the patients’ lives easier is at the heart of my job. It’s pretty great to work here; I feel very lucky.
Peter Griffin, PharmD, is a Medication Therapy Management pharmacist specializing in nephrology and hepatology at Fairview Pharmacy in Minneapolis. He spends much of his time with patients and providers at the University of Minnesota Health Clinics and Surgery Center.
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