“Stay curious, get involved, and don’t be afraid to stray outside your profession.” That’s the advice Victoria Smith, a third-year student on the Twin Cities campus, has for anyone interested in pharmacy.
A native of Rochester, Minn., Smith says growing up near the Mayo Clinic helped her establish a strong interest in health care. That interest, along with an experience shadowing a professional, propelled Smith to study pharmacy.
“As an undergraduate student I had the opportunity to shadow an ambulatory care pharmacist and was impressed with the relationships of trust he developed with his patients,” Smith said. “I chose pharmacy because I find medicinal chemistry and pharmacotherapy fascinating, and I love the opportunity to interact with patients and providers as the medication expert on the health care team.”
Smith chose the University of Minnesota College of Pharmacy for a variety of reasons. Among them was its focus on clinical pharmacy and its emphasis on training pharmacists to become a fully-integrated member of the health care team.
Smith was also drawn to the college by the opportunity to volunteer at the Phillips Neighborhood Clinic, which allows pharmacy students to gain experience in direct patient care by serving individuals with unmet needs.
As co-chair of the clinic, Smith presented a workshop on expanding clinic services at the Society of Student-Run Free Clinics Annual Conference. The goal of that organization is to foster collaboration and cultivate growth of student-run free clinics. Her presentation experience led to her joining the organization, and she subsequently was elected as the National Operating Committee Research & Publications Chair.
“I realized that pursuing a position on the board would allow me to stay involved as a fourth year student and expand my impact to the national level,” Smith said. “My elected position as Research & Publications Chair focuses on collaboration with the Journal of Student-Run Clinics to promote interdisciplinary and cross-clinic research among 96 member clinics across four countries. I’m passionate about interprofessional clinical education, and student-run clinics provide interprofessional experiences in direct patient care, research, and leadership at all levels.”
In addition to her roles at the Phillips Neighborhood Clinic and the Society of Student-Run Free Clinics, Smith served as team-lead for the winning team of the 2018 American College of Clinical Pharmacy Clinical Research Challenge. The challenge is a three-part competition including a journal club, letter of intent, and research proposal. The 2018 prompt was to use a limited budget to develop an antibiotic stewardship program in a 100-bed rural hospital.
“Our solution centered the use of telehealth consultation with an infectious disease pharmacist and implementation of CDC-recommended interventions,” Smith said. “In addition to the practicalities of letter of intent and research proposal composition, I learned a lot about antibiotic stewardship best practices and challenges faced by rural and safety-net hospitals. After learning and working in a large academic health center, it was a major shift in thinking to adapt solutions to the resources available.”
Smith hopes she can apply the lessons she’s learned from all of her experiences in a successful career in internal medicine in the future.
Story by Owen Mageau