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Career Profile: Pharmacist

Career Profile: Pharmacist

Leslie Adams, Pharm. D., Pharmacist, Pharmacy Department, Clinical Center, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD

National Institutes of Health: Office of Science Education

I chose this career because…

I chose to become a pharmacist because I have always had a strong interest in biology. It seemed natural for me to gravitate toward a career as a pharmacist. Pharmacy offered me the opportunity to focus on human biology and drugs used to cure or manage specific diseases. It also gave me the opportunity to learn more about new and existing drugs and their effects on humans.

After I finished my graduate degree, I did a one-year residency program at John Hopkins. Though a residency is not required for many programs, it is a favorable training practice for those who anticipate working in a hospital. A residency also gives you a way to specialize. Pharmacy has a number of specialties from which to choose, like veterinary sciences, infectious diseases, critical care, psychology, and ambulatory care. I am a clinical research pharmacist, and spend a lot of time working with investigational drugs that may eventually be considered for approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

More on Pharmacists


Salary: $67,860 - $119,480
Min. Education: Doctorate
Related Careers: Physician, Dentist

My typical workday involves…

My typical workday can be very challenging at times. Throughout the day I provide drug information to the medical staff, and answer their questions. Some inquiries deal with basic information about the drug itself, like the stability of an IV (intravenous) drug formulation. Other inquiries are more focused on the patient receiving the drug. For example, a physician may ask about selecting the appropriate drug and dosage for a patient who is very young, elderly, or who has poor kidney function. Another important aspect of my job is the preparation of investigational and chemotherapeutic drugs for patients being treated at the clinical center.

My major duties are to:

• Respond to inquiries from physicians and other health care providers

• Check details of physician’s orders – dose, age of patient, drug interactions, allergies

• Prepare drugs – dilute concentrated drugs into the appropriate diluent, and ensure the final concentration is correct. I check the details of a physician’s order for accuracy before filling the request.

• Prepare total parenteral nutrition (TPN) – mix nutritional elements at appropriate concentrations in an intravenous bag. TPNs provide nutrients to patients who cannot eat.

What I like best and least about my work…

What I like best about my work is that I am able to contribute to the mission of the NIH – to improve the health of people globally, through the advances made in science and medical research.

What I like least about my work is not having the opportunity to work with patients directly.

My career goals are…

My career goal is to eventually team with other professionals to improve health outcomes in underserved populations, and to close the health disparities gap found in America. I am currently taking courses to obtain a masters degree in public health.


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