The question was innocent but threw me off guard. “You’re a pharmacist? I thought they locked you in the basement!”
I assured my recently admitted COPD patient that we pharmacists are often granted relief from our mysterious pharmacy lairs to spend time with our patients. She laughed, “Now I don’t feel so bad for you.”
As a clinical pharmacist, I find that I am a valued, but not always an understood, part of the team. Traditionally patients have thought of pharmacists as simply counting pills behind the counter at the local drug store—a friendly resource. Physicians may have a broader experience with pharmacists, particularly as interns relying on the pharmacist to call when they are less sure of medication choice and dosage but similarly jaded by longstanding stereotypes of centralized pharmacy models. This feeling of uncertainty on my part was only exemplified as I prepared to take on my role as a junior nonphysician faculty member in a family medicine residency program (FMRP). This time, it was me who was hesitant of my role and how to bridge my resident experience with my future career. Luckily, a fellow faculty member in my FMRP introduced me to the STFM Emerging Leaders Fellowship, a perfect support for new faculty and anyone transitioning into leadership. At the time, he was completing the fellowship and thought I may be a good fit for the program as a mechanism for better understanding the role of a faculty member and in turn setting goals for future professional development.