Pharmacy Careers

The field of pharmacy offers a vast array of career opportunities. With the changing landscape of health care, pharmacists are becoming more involved in patient care and as a result creating more career options.

Below are some examples of practice settings that a pharmacist could work in. Hover over the profile drop down to read about the career path of a WSU College of Pharmacy preceptor or alumni in that field.

Academia

Academia involves educating students at a college or university.

Terri Levien, Drug Information Pharmacist
Terri Levien

Terri Levien
Washington State University
College of Pharmacy
Class of 1990

Current position title: Drug Information Pharmacist & Clinical Professor

Current practice site: WSU Drug Information Center

Practice site location: Spokane, Wash.

Years of practicing pharmacy: 25 years

Years at current practice: 25 years

Brief description of practice setting:
The WSU Drug Information Center is an academic drug information center providing a learning environment for pharmacy students and pharmacy residents while also providing a service to pharmacists, other health care professionals and patients. We respond to questions about medications, while also writing monographs evaluating new drugs and contributing to drug information databases.

Give a brief summary of your role and responsibilities within your current position:
In my current position I precept pharmacy students and pharmacy residents working within the Drug Information Center, answer drug information questions, write monographs evaluating new drugs for formulary status, update comparative efficacy information for a drug database, develop pharmacy continuing education programs, and teach in a drug information and literature evaluation pharmacy course.

What do you enjoy the most about your current position?
One of the greatest aspects of my position is the variety. On any given day I may research information about a new drug for a monograph I am writing, answer questions from pharmacists and patients, and help teach a class. The next day I may be researching a different drug, answer more questions, and attend a student presentation. The questions that come into the center make each day unique. There is no way to predict how many questions we will receive, and the topics can range from simple identification questions to complex questions regarding a patient's medication regimen.

Looking forward, what excites you most about the profession of pharmacy?
The expanding role of the pharmacist continues to be exciting. And as a drug information pharmacist it has been exciting to witness the explosion in availability of information available to the pharmacist, and watching our role change to help other pharmacists locate and interpret information in their expanding roles.

What is one lesson that you have learned that you would like to share with prospective student pharmacists?
Be open to the career opportunities that pharmacy offers. As I entered pharmacy school, and even as I approached graduation, I thought I knew where I wanted to work as a pharmacist. Then an opportunity arose to explore a different career option that I had never even considered. And I loved it! I didn't plan on specializing in drug information. Attend pharmacy career seminars. Learn about the many different areas in which pharmacists work. And as a student pharmacist, take advantage of the opportunity to experience many different types of practice sites during rotations.

Is there anything you would have done differently?
No.

Why did you choose WSU?
Honestly - because I was raised a Coug and never considered going anywhere else for pre-pharmacy. Then once I was at WSU, I was impressed by how close everyone in the College of Pharmacy was - how supportive everyone was - faculty, staff and students. And I could see how that carried over amongst the WSU pharmacy alumni.

Kimberly McKeirnan, Clinical Assistant Professor

Kimberly McKeirnan, BCACP
Washington State University
College of Pharmacy
Class of 2008

Current position title: Clinical Assistant Professor

Current practice site: WSU College of Pharmacy

Practice site location: Spokane, Wash.

Years of practicing pharmacy: 7 years

Years at current practice: 3 years

Brief description of practice setting: Washington State University College of Pharmacy

Give a brief summary of your role and responsibilities within your current position:
I teach Applied Patient Care lab for the second-year pharmacy students. I also precept students at community outreach events, precept fourth-year rotation students for an education/teaching rotation, serve on committees, and act as a student adviser. I am also the faculty adviser for the Student National Pharmacist Association. In addition to my teaching duties I am also developing and implementing research projects related to community pharmacy practice.

What do you enjoy the most about your current position?
My favorite part about my current position is interacting with pharmacy students. Their passion and excitement for the future of the profession is inspiring.

Looking forward, what excites you most about the profession of pharmacy?
I believe we will continue to see our role as pharmacists expanding and I look forward to seeing how this will continue to increase patient access to care.

What advice or insight did someone share with you that had a tremendous impact on your decision to become a pharmacist?
I had a mentor in a hospital pharmacy once tell me that as pharmacists it is our job to make patient care our top priority. There were conflicts at the time between the pharmacy staff and nursing staff about the best way to do something and he was encouraging his staff to rise above these issues and put patients first.

What is one lesson that you have learned that you would like to share with prospective student pharmacists?
We don't treat medical conditions, we treat patients who have medical conditions.

Is there anything you would have done differently?
I would have been more involved in student organizations during my time at WSU. I was very focused on working as an intern during my time as a student and I wish that I would have spent more time getting involved in my community.

Why did you choose WSU?
I grew up in this area and there was never any question about where I would go to school. I knew that this would be a great program and would have a focus on the health of the local community.

How has the WSU College of Pharmacy helped you be successful within your pharmacy career?
In addition to the quality education I received here, WSU also has a tight-knit alumni group which is very helpful.



Acute Care

Acute care facilities provide short-term health care to patients for the treatment of illnesses or for surgery recovery.

Brent Albertson, Regional Pharmacy Manager

Brent Albertson, BCPS
North Dakota State University
Class of 2002

Position title: Regional Pharmacy Manager, purchasing and quality

Practice site location: Spokane, Wash.

Years of practicing pharmacy: 13 years

Years at current practice: 9 years

Description of practice setting:
Acute care pharmacies at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center & Children's Hospital, Providence Holy Family Hospital, Providence Mount Carmel Hospital, Providence St. Joseph's Hospital.

What are your roles and responsibilities in your position?
In my current position I work with other pharmacy leaders within the acute care settings. My primary responsibilities are oversight of our formulary, medication utilization and our residency program. I also work with other leaders to oversee quality, safety, performance improvement and purchasing.

What do you enjoy the most about your current position?
The collaborative team-based environment and our collective contribution to improving the care of our patients.

Looking forward, what excites you most about the profession of pharmacy?
Pharmacists are, and have been, an important member of the care team. This has been driven through consistent high level performance in improving patient outcomes. One of the areas that allows this to continue and even drive higher performance is ensuring high level training of new graduate. With residency training, we are on a path to train more and more highly qualified pharmacists. Not only have the number of residency training positions increased but the rigor of our programs have as well. This aspect provides excitement in knowing that our profession is in good hands as we move forward.

What is one lesson that you have learned that you would like to share with a prospective student pharmacist?
I've been fortunate to be surrounded by good mentors and peers. As you progress through your career be aware of your environment and the impact it is having on your growth and happiness. Don't underestimate the power of networking and seeking advice from those you trust.

Chris Greer, Hospital Pharmacy Manager

Chris Greer
Washington State University
College of Pharmacy
Class of 1991

Current position title: Pharmacy Manager

Current practice site: St. Luke’s Rehabilitation Hospital

Practice site location: Spokane, Wash.

Years of practicing pharmacy: 24 years

Years at current practice: 20 years

Brief description of practice setting:
St. Luke’s Rehabilitation Institute serves patients throughout the Inland Northwest including patients in central and eastern Washington, northern Idaho and western Montana. We specialize in comprehensive inpatient and outpatient therapy sessions for children and adults and provide rehabilitation treatment for stroke, spinal cord injuries, orthopedic issues and brain injuries. The pharmacy department provides for the mediation needs and the safety systems that support the safe use of medications for our inpatient population.

Give a brief summary of your role and responsibilities within your current position:
As the pharmacy manager I oversee all aspects of the pharmacy department including personnel oversight, budget management and safety and quality. I am the responsible pharmacist for our facility. I also have the opportunity to manage our inpatient respiratory therapy department and employee health program.

What do you enjoy the most about your current position?
I most enjoy solving problems and creating win-win situations. I also get great satisfaction from interaction with the pharmacy students that come to our site and leading our staff to improvements in care.

Looking forward, what excites you most about the profession of pharmacy?
Our profession has so many opportunities to care for those with limited access to health care and to optimize the health care of those that are currently served. This is an exciting time were all of the hard work of those who have advocated for the profession over the years is bearing fruit.

What advice or insight did someone share with you that had a tremendous impact on your decision to become a pharmacist?
The idea of pharmacy as a career came to me through a fellow student on campus. I then had the opportunity to speak with one of the professors and made the decision that pharmacy was right for me.

What is one lesson that you have learned that you would like to share with prospective student pharmacists?
Opportunities for growth and reward involve effort. There is a quote attributed to Thomas Edison that I think applies: "Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work"

Is there anything you would have done differently?
I think I might have liked to become an EMT before I started my college career.

Why did you choose WSU?
I chose to attend Washington State University in Pullman because the students were more closely connected on campus and it was closer to my home in Spokane.

How has the WSU College of Pharmacy helped you be successful within your pharmacy career?
The WSU College of Pharmacy provided my undergraduate education and specialty residency training. I have benefited greatly by my association with the college. It has been so rewarding to have the opportunity to interact with WSU COP students on rotation with us and with the faculty.

Roger Yamaguchi, Hospital Oncology Pharmacist

Roger Yamaguchi
UCSF School of Pharmacy
Class of 1986

Current position title: Oncology Pharmacist, RPD

Practice site location: Seattle, Wash.

Years of practicing pharmacy: 26 years

Years at current practice: 25 years

Brief description of practice setting:
Tertiary Care Referral Center, Acute Care inpatient hospital pharmacy.

Give a brief summary of your role and responsibilities within your current position:
Inpatient oncology pharmacy, ambulatory oncology pharmacy, Pharmacy Education (APPE preceptor), Residency Program Director.

What do you enjoy the most about your current position?
Working with many highly skilled and motivated individuals who care about our patients.

Looking forward, what excites you most about the profession of pharmacy?
Opportunity to expand our scope of practice to help more patients. There are still many opportunities out there in oncology, neurology, gene therapy where we are pushing the boundaries about what we know about basic science as it applies to humans.

What advice or insight did someone share with you that had a tremendous impact on your decision to become a pharmacist?
Glenn Yokoyama, then director of pharmacy at Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasadena, CA (now UCSF South Bay APPE Coordinator): Diversity in training is key. Don't do a residency where you were an intern. Don't do a residency in the area you went to pharmacy school. Pharmacy is an art, not a science, so the more stories, cases, beliefs and opinions you are exposed to (even if conflicting) the better and more well rounded your outlook will be, and the more solutions and opportunities you can provide for your patients, doctors and nurses.

What is one lesson that you have learned that you would like to share with prospective student pharmacists?
No one's career is totally linear - in a straight line. All of our careers take turns or changes. To prepare for these twists and turns of fate and opportunity, it's best to have a SOLID grasp of the fundamentals of pharmacy: how the patient's diseases harm the patients, how we treat them, where we pharmacists/health care team members can intervene, where we should not. With good foundational knowledge, you'll be ready for any small opportunity to pay off big for you, or find a way to make it even bigger!

Is there anything you would have done differently?
I would not have chosen a residency in the state of Washington as it wasn't far enough away from my school (UCSF) where I would see a large disparity in pharmacy role models and practices. Many of my classmates (~75% in 1986) did residencies, and I felt that those who went east of the Mississippi had a larger wealth of information and experience than I did. Also, the practice of pharmacy in 1987 was not as progressive as it is today - it certainly changed in the 10 years after my residency.



Ambulatory Care

Ambulatory care is provided on an outpatient basis, meaning patients are not admitted to the hospital for an overnight stay. Patients in ambulatory care could have short term or chronic illnesses.

Manpreet Chahal, Clinical Oncology Pharmacist
Manpreet Chahal

Manpreet Chahal
Washington State University
College of Pharmacy
Class of 2010

Current position title: Oncology Pharmacist

Practice site location: Spokane, Wash.

Years of practicing pharmacy: 5 years

Years at current practice: 3.5 years

Brief description of practice setting:
Outpatient oncology clinic with infusion room, oral chemotherapy dispensing, and clinical research.

Give a brief summary of your role and responsibilities within your current position:
Involved in dosing, administration, counseling, adverse reaction management and monitoring for efficacy/adverse reactions of IV/oral chemotherapy. Also involved in insurance approval, assisting patients with out of pocket cost for medications, reconciling claims, and negotiating acquisition costs of medications.

What do you enjoy the most about your current position?
Patient interaction, mechanism of action of chemotherapy medications.

Looking forward, what excites you most about the profession of pharmacy?
Provider status.

What advice or insight did someone share with you that had a tremendous impact on your decision to become a pharmacist?
Pharmacists are the most trustworthy and accessible healthcare professionals. We can and are making a difference.

What is one lesson that you have learned that you would like to share with prospective student pharmacists?
Get involved as a student leader, keep an open mind, and step out of your comfort zone.

Is there anything you would have done differently?
Intern more as a pharmacy student.

Why did you choose WSU?
Quality of the program, access to faculty, interactions with alumni.

How has the WSU College of Pharmacy helped you be successful within your pharmacy career?
WSU COP provided me quality education and experiences that allowed me to pursue a career in oncology pharmacy. To date, this college, its faculty, staff and alumni helped me realize my path and have been inspirational in more ways than one.

Mark Iseri, Pharmacy Director

Mark Iseri, NCPS
The University of Washington
Class of 1997

Current position title: Pharmacy Director

Current practice site: Yakama Indian Health Center

Practice site location: Toppenish, Wash.

Years of practicing pharmacy: 18 years

Years at current practice: 5 years

Brief description of practice setting:
The Yakama Indian Reservation is comprised of 1,371,918 acres, located in the Yakima Valley near Toppenish Washington. The Indian Health Service (IHS) operates a 40,000sf facility located near Toppenish. Serving a population of approximately 14,000 Native Americans. The Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care (AAAHC) accredited facility opened in 1990 and houses tribal and IHS operated programs offering a full range of ambulatory primary care including: public health nursing (PHN), dental services, mental health, optometry, laboratory, radiology, and audiology, internal medicine, women’s health care, elder care clinic & pediatric services. All in-patient services are provided at local private hospital facilities. The pharmacy department has 5 pharmacy-based clinic services with laboratory and prescriptive authority: diabetes, hypertension, dyslipidemia, anticoagulation, asthma and tobacco cessation.

Give a brief summary of your role and responsibilities within your current position:
I currently serve as the pharmacy director for Yakama Indian Health Center, responsible for the supervision of 5 pharmacists and 5 pharmacy technicians. As pharmacy director my primary responsibility is managing personnel, drug inventory and the safe delivery of medications to our patients. My secondary roles are serving as the director for experiential learning, anticoagulation clinic manager, Indian Health Service National Inventory Control committee, and voting member for the United States Public Health Service Pharmacist Professional Advisory Council.

What do you enjoy the most about your current position?
I enjoy the opportunity to work under collaborative practice agreements (CPA) allowing me to manage patients with diabetes, hypertension, dyslipidemia, anticoagulation and nicotine cessation. Our CPA allows me to work with patients managing their diseases. It has opened the door to cultural awareness that I could never experience in a traditional dispensing role. It has helped me to gain the trust of patients; together we make compromises in treatment that lead to lifestyle and medication interventions that are reasonable for the patient.

Looking forward, what excites you most about the profession of pharmacy?
I am very excited that Washington state has approved pharmacist provider status legislation. When I first graduated from pharmacy school in 1997 I never dreamed this day would come. Now that it is here I am looking forward to completing the credentialing process and practicing at the very top of my licensure. At this point there is no limit to what our profession can achieve. I am fortunate to be working for the Indian Health Service and am looking forward to the progressive changes that will occur as a result of this legislation.

What advice or insight did someone share with you that had a tremendous impact on your decision to become a pharmacist?
My father who graduated with a Bachelor of Pharmacy from Washington State University in 1950 had the most impact on my career decision. Interestingly enough, I was resistant to pharmacy as I knew it in the 1980’s. I could not see myself standing behind the counter in a traditional dispensing role. During this time I was interested in a career where I could spend time outdoors. When I graduated from high school I thought a forestry degree was in my future. After a few years of community college I became disinterested in completing my education and joined the U.S. Army. After spending four years serving my country overseas I accepted a job with the Boeing Company. At Boeing I realized that I needed to do something more and took a career course. After investing a significant amount of time researching medical careers I decided that pharmacy after all would be a good choice for me.

What is one lesson that you have learned that you would like to share with prospective student pharmacists?
The most important lesson for me is learning patience, we are all different and I have found that it takes time to build a trusting relationship with a patient. When I first started managing patients' diabetes I was very rigid and would expect patients to make changes right away. Change what you eat, take your mediations every day, exercise daily etc. One day a provider came up to me and said a few patients of his were upset at me for demanding them to make changes so abruptly. He explained to me that as a Yakima native his relationships with his patients go far beyond any traditional provider patient relationship. If he cannot get his patients to change I had no chance unless I developed a little more patience. I took his advice and slowed my pace down, eventually many of my patients started to listen to me and I was able to make significant changes over time. Looking back at it, if I had not made a change in my approach many of my patients would have simply stopped coming to see me.

Is there anything you would have done differently?
I would have completed a residency preferably with the Indian Health Service. When I graduated from pharmacy school I took a job in retail. I was more interested in working regular hours so I could maximize my time with my wife and two boys who where in grade school at the time. A residency could have provided me with an income while affording me the opportunity to improve my skills and open up more opportunities for advanced career opportunities.

Shane Johnson, Clinical Pharmacist

Shane Johnson
Washington State University
College of Pharmacy
Class of 2013

Current position title: Clinical Pharmacist

Practice site location: Richland, Wash.

Years of practicing pharmacy: 28 months

Years at current practice: 16 months

Brief description of practice setting:
Ambulatory geriatric primary care clinic. Non-traditional practice setting focused on chronic disease management and comprehensive medication review working with a team of 3 MDs, 1 DO, 2 ARNPs, and 1 PA.

Give a brief summary of your role and responsibilities within your current position:
Chronic disease management, comprehensive medication review, transition of care medication counseling, medication reconciliation.

What do you enjoy the most about your current position?
Direct patient care for an under-served geriatric population

Looking forward, what excites you most about the profession of pharmacy?
Progressive involvement in chronic disease management and opportunities for pharmacists as providers.

What advice or insight did someone share with you that had a tremendous impact on your decision to become a pharmacist?
Growing opportunities for pharmacists in non-dispensing rolls

What is one lesson that you have learned that you would like to share with prospective student pharmacists?
Keep your mind open to new opportunities. As you grow and develop in your practice, many new opportunities may present themselves and you may find yourself changing paths several times as different doors open. Always stand up for the profession and engage in the advancement of the profession whenever possible.

Is there anything you would have done differently?
No.

Why did you choose WSU?
I have been a life long Cougar. I only considered WSU for undergrad and professional school. I love the family environment and the unity in being a Cougar.

How has the WSU College of Pharmacy helped you be successful within your pharmacy career?
Reputation of the college will follow you wherever you go. WSU is well known and respected in the world of pharmacy. The clinical education prepared me well. The focus of the curriculum on pharmacists in ambulatory care and clinical roles has really been a huge benefit in my career thus far.



Community Pharmacy

Community pharmacies dispense and sell prescription drugs. Pharmacists in this setting also provide counseling and services for minor ailments.

Clinton Slovarp, Market Health and Wellness Director

Clinton Slovarp
Washington State University
College of Pharmacy
Class of 2014

Current position title: Market Health and Wellness Director

Current practice site: Wal-Mart

Practice site location: Tri-Cities, Wash.

Years of practicing pharmacy: 1 year

Years at current practice: 6 years

Brief description of practice setting:
Community pharmacy based in a large retail store setting.

Give a brief summary of your role and responsibilities within your current position:
I oversee all operations and personnel in the Pharmacies, Vision Centers, and OTC retail space in 11 Wal-Mart stores. I am responsible for a wide array of duties related to budgets, financial growth, hiring, training, recruiting, leadership development, compliance, innovations, safety, human resources, media relations and more.

What do you enjoy the most about your current position?
I get to have a widespread impact on the quality of patient care in multiple pharmacies and drive the future of pharmacy practice toward expanded and clinical services.

Looking forward, what excites you most about the profession of pharmacy?
The prospect of driving pharmacists into roles and responsibilities that utilize their knowledge and skills to their full capabilities as providers and clinicians. The landscape for our profession is progressing rapidly and in the right direction.

What advice or insight did someone share with you that had a tremendous impact on your decision to become a pharmacist?
I have a younger brother with severe medical issues, that provided me intimate interactions with various health care settings on a regular basis growing up. My younger brother, and caring for him, has made me a very empathetic and caring person and I recognized the need for top-notch health care providers who could relate and help patients on a personal level. Pharmacy was a perfect fit.

What is one lesson that you have learned that you would like to share with prospective student pharmacists?
You must determine, commit and communicate your goals to those around you in order to achieve them. For example, if you don't tell a superior you have aspirations of advancement, they may never consider you for it.

Is there anything you would have done differently?
Not at all. I am absolutely thrilled with my current position and the opportunities my Doctorate of Pharmacy has provided me.

Why did you choose WSU?
Eastern Washington is home for me, and after my interview experience I knew it was where I wanted to go for pharmacy school.

How has the WSU College of Pharmacy helped you be successful within your pharmacy career?
The Cougar Pharmacy network is extensive and full of people who want to help you to be successful. The connection of the WSU College of Pharmacy has allowed me to meet pharmacists across several different practice setting and provided a wealth of resources to help me achieve various goals and seek advice.



 

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