"I'm one of six Penn transplant clinical pharmacy specialists – I specialize in kidney and pancreas transplantation and have been at Penn for over 16 years. I did my postgraduate training in solid organ transplant following pharmacy school and knew, from the time I was a pharmacy student, that I would always specialize in this field. I was intrigued and challenged by the complexity of this patient population, admired the central role my transplant pharmacist mentors played in patient care, and was continually inspired by the incredible experiences of seeing very sick people get a second chance at life.
With the Penn Transplant Institute being a national leader in not only transplant care, but also research, a big part of my day is focused on clinical research within our kidney-pancreas transplant program. I'm involved in everything from enrolling patients in clinical trials to data interpretation and publishing results. I'll always remember the first patient I approached with the opportunity to participate in a trial. In that trial, the transplant team was studying an investigational medication to see if it would work better to prevent rejection, and have different side effects than the medications we were using for transplant patients at that time. That first patient had to take a chance, there were no guarantees the medication would work as we anticipated, based on what we knew about it at the time. They took the chance; they trusted our team and that medication ended up becoming our new standard of care. That patient was part of something that improved care for all the patients that came after them. It's a privilege to be involved in helping push the field forward and ultimately improving patients' quality of life and the longevity of these donated organs.
Another big, and very important, part of my job is working with patients on medication management. It is essential for patients to properly follow their prescribed medication plans to have a successful transplant course. For those waiting for a transplant, I help prepare them and their caregivers for what's to come –many medications are needed after transplantation. Some are to prevent rejection, prevent infection, some for pain and others based on their individual needs. There can be complications and side effects from all these medications, so I help educate them on how to identify, prevent and manage them. I also provide education on how to best organize and manage their medications. Some examples of this are tips on how best to use pill boxes and medication reminder systems, keep medication lists up to date, and track when refills are due. It is extremely important that the medications be taken at the same times, the same way, every day, as much as possible to ensure life-long transplant success.
I'm passionate about many things – donor advocacy, education, clinical care, and research. Music too. When I entered pharmacy school, I was determined to also continue my studies in classical piano. As a result, I earned a minor in Classical Music and still play piano today (though not as well as I used to).
The teamwork between patients, medical providers, trainees, and caregivers is inspiring, and so rewarding. I'm thankful to be a part of this team that allows incredibly sick patients to receive a second chance at life. I get to witness miracles every day."