Almuna Spotlight! Life After Pharmacy School: Dr. Allison Richmond Williams

Contributed by: Jenny Long, Class of 2017

As a current fourth year pharmacy student at UCSOP, I often look forward to the day I graduate in 2017. I am excited for the day when I can put my pharmacy education into practice and utilize the information I have learned over these past few years while completing the pharmacy curriculum. I know I am not the only pharmacy student looking forward to the day we will finally be pharmacists, so I reached out to UCSOP alumnus Allison Williams (formerly Richmond) from the Class of 2015 for an Alumna Spotlight feature. Dr. Williams was generous enough to grant us an interview detailing her life after graduation to show us there is light at the end of the tunnel!

Joseph and Allison Williams at graduation in May 2015.

Joseph and Allison Williams at graduation in May 2015.

Q: Please tell us a little bit about yourself! Where are you from? Any hobbies or interests?

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Drs. Allison and Joseph Williams

Dr. Williams: My name is Allison Williams and I live in Charleston, WV with my husband and UCSOP alumnus Joseph Williams. I’m originally from Talcott, WV and moved to this area after graduation. I am employed by Wal-Mart Pharmacy and currently serve as a floating pharmacist working at multiple stores in the area. I am also serving as an alumni member of the UCSOP Fellows Advisory Board. I enjoy spending my days off with my husband when we get them together! I also enjoy reading, baking, singing, and hanging out with friends.

Q: Could you tell us a little bit about your duties as a pharmacist? What’s your daily life? Do you enjoy your job? How do you feel about taking on students as a preceptor?

Dr. Williams: As a floating pharmacist, I go to multiple stores during the week to help out during vacations and busy times. My day consists of verifying prescriptions, counseling and talking to patients, giving immunizations, talking to other healthcare professionals, and working with the technicians. I also have the opportunity to do MTM at some stores. I do enjoy my job, and it is very rewarding to help patients understand their medications. In the future when I am at one store all the time I would be willing to take students, but as of now it is too hard as a floating pharmacist.

Q: We recently heard you were married! How do you handle or maintain a balance between work and your personal life?

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Allison and Joseph Williams on their wedding day. Photo by Meredith Dickens.

Dr. Williams: Joseph and I got married in July 2015 in Charleston. At first it was hard to balance the time, but now it has become a lot easier. We don’t always have the same days off each week. Whenever we do share a day off together we try to enjoy each other’s company and do something fun. Since we are both pharmacists it is easy to get caught up in talking about work, but we have learned to takeq time to talk about the other things going on in our lives. Balancing work and personal life is challenging, but in the end its worthwhile to set aside time to enjoy our life together.

Q: Could you take us back to when you were a student at UCSOP? What was your favorite class? What was the most challenging class for you? Any suggestions for current students?

Dr. Williams: I had a strong interest in infectious disease so I really enjoyed the portion of Pharmacotherapy III taught by Dr. Robinson. I also really enjoyed Bad Bugs taught by Dr. Flaherty my P1 year. I would say that one of my most challenging classes was Immunology as a P1. For current students, it’s important to find the study method that works for you. Once you find that, stick with it and you will do just fine with the material!

Allison and Joseph Williams. Photo by Meredith Dickens.

Allison and Joseph Williams. Photo by Meredith Dickens.

Q: Do you have any other long-term goals or dreams?

Dr. Williams: I hope to be able to settle down into one store instead of floating between pharmacies. Joseph and I are also hoping to buy a house soon so that we may begin thinking about starting a family.

We would like to thank Dr. Allison Williams for her help with this post! We wish her the best of luck in her career as a pharmacist!

Let the Rotations Begin!

The first few weeks of P4 rotations is complete, with students working at many rotation sites that are available to UCSOP students. For those of you unfamiliar with the term “rotation site,” think of it as on-the-job training. Students have the opportunity to work at a pharmacy or hospital; classrooms are available if the student is interested in teaching what they’ve learned. The experience allows students to hone their communication skills with patients, while helping fortify the teachings they received in the classroom setting. The goal of the experience is to expose students to their future jobs and responsibilities, with a safety net in the form of a preceptor.

P4 Student Kyle Robinson with Preceptor Joey Anderson at Alum Creek Pharmacy on Sand Plant Road

P4 Student Kyle Robinson with Preceptor Joey Anderson at Alum Creek Pharmacy on Sand Plant Road

Incoming students may be curious as to what rotation sites are available, and I know one of the first emails I sent  as a pharmacy student was to the Experiential Experience Director asking what rotation sites I could look forward to. The director emailed me a rough list and although I had a few years before I could experience most of them, I felt excited and started my planning. At this point, I should clarify roughly how the process works. Students rank the rotations they want, and then a computer system utilizes a lottery-like algorithm to determine which student goes to what site. Therefore, there is a bit of randomness involved and nothing is truly certain.

Luckily the school has a very strong preceptor network, covering multiple different fields of pharmacy. Students interested in institutional environments like hospitals have options like the Cleveland Clinic, Indian Health Services, Charleston Area Medical Center (CAMC), Cabell Huntington Hospital, Thomas Memorial Hospital, St. Francis Hospital, Highland Hospital, just to name a few. If students prefer to go into retail or community pharmacy, there is a plethora of rotations as well. These include CVS, Rite Aid, Walmart, Walgreens, and Kroger rotations, as well as many independently owned pharmacies that focus on compounding and home infusion products. UCSOP also has rotations specializing in academia, research, and industrial pharmacy. Opportunities for such rotations are available with professors at the school, but also with Mylan Pharmaceuticals, the drug manufacturer giant in Morgantown, WV.

This list only contains a few of the available rotation sites, as the UCSOP has sites as far west as Guam, Alaska, and New Mexico, as well as many in Chicago, Columbus, Maryland, Virginia, and Kentucky. There’s also the possibility of setting up a new rotation site as well, however this process may take a very long time, as the site must be qualified and inspected to ensure the school’s standards are met.

As a student who originally was worried about the available sites, I have come to realize that the only real limitation is the lack of time to experience them all. Looking at my current rotation schedule, I wish I could try a few more than just the eight I am current assigned.

Contributed by Peter Relvas, P4 student.

UCSOP Students Learn to Walk in Their Patients’ Shoes in the First Year

1st Year Pharmacy IPPE at UCSOP (Introductory Pharmacy Practice Experience)

During the first year of pharmacy school, students are involved in a Service Learning practice experience to work on their communication skills.  Each student is assigned to a facility that performs some type of medical care, such as a skilled nursing facility, an assisted living facility, a home health agency, etc.  During the visits to their site, the students learn to improve their communication skills while working with patients and members of the health care team.

Prior to the first site visit, the students have several classes covering a variety of topics, such as patient interview techniques, health literacy, interpersonal communication, and empathy.  Below are some photos of student participating in an empathy lab where activities simulate some hardships that are common in the elderly population.

Scott Williams practices walking with a walker. (Class of 2016)

Scott Williams

John Schuette

John Schuette is wearing glasses covered with tape to simulate cataracts. (Class of 2016)

Rachel Lemon

Rachel Lemon attempts to read a prescription label while wearing the “cataract” glasses. (Class of 2016)

Travis Cottle

Travis Cottle is wearing ear plugs to simulate hearing impairment. His fingers are taped together to simulate arthritis.

“The Empathy Lab provided a fascinating way to identify and understand another’s situation, feelings, and motives. Being able to empathize with the persons we come into contact with is so important for our future careers.”          ~Travis Cottle (Class of 2016)

During the semester, students are taught basic patient assessment skills that they can practice while at their rotations sites.  These include taking a pulse, temperature, blood pressure, and blood glucose.

Group Blood Pressure

Students practicing their blood pressure technique on fellow students. (Class of 2015)

Byron Magedanz is testing Rachana Joshi’s blood sugar. (Class of 2016)

Byron Rachana

Dr. Monk is using the simulation mannequin to demonstrate a heart rhythm.  (Class of 2013 students)

Gannett mannequin