rxpharmacist

Too good to be true? An internship program full of a lifetime of learning

After finding out about the RxPharmacist Graduate Transitions Program through my school advisor, I had a strong interest in joining the program. I definitely thought it was too good to be true, to earn income while studying for your boards, but it has truly been a mutually beneficial experience! With a fellowship position already in place, I wanted to join the summer internship to enhance my work experiences and further build my skillset before beginning my fellowship in July. The program is very unique in that it specifically caters to graduating fourth year students and gives them an opportunity to edit or create MPJE/NAPLEX material of the student’s interest. Since I attended pharmacy school in Florida, I had no experience with the Massachusetts MPJE material, but I wanted to be licensed in the state for my fellowship. After editing the Massachusetts guide, I found the whole experience to be very effective and helpful in learning the material. I feel very prepared to take my MPJE exam and pass on the first time easily.

The RxPharmacist Graduate Transitions Program is very flexible and really cares about the success of the intern. I was able to create my own schedule and work on my own time. Throughout the program, I have learned valuable skills through the workshops offered on topics such as LinkedIn and writing effective cover letters through RxPharmacist’s, “How to get a Job Series” program that all interns get free access to. I have also expanded on my previous writing experiences that I know will be very beneficial to my career in the pharmaceutical industry. Another perk of the program is being matched with a mentor to support you through your projects and help you further your professional development. I enjoyed my sessions with my mentor and being connected with other professionals within the pharmaceutical industry. I cannot recommend this program enough, you need to definitely apply!

LeDea B., Florida A&M University

Stumbling upon a new opportunity to transform and be ready for this new economic climate of pharmacy

I stumbled upon RxPharmacist from a dear friend of mine who kindly forwarded the email she received about their internship programs over to me. I remember taking a quick glance out of confusion then rereading everything as it sounded too good to be true! It turns out I was right, it WAS too good to be true! RxPharmacist has a noble mission of not only helping pharmacy students pass their boards, but also earn some cash in the process. On top of everything, there are optional sessions for career growth, mentorship, and interviewing tips. For me, this was a once in a lifetime opportunity that helped me answer some of my own dilemmas and pursue my true passion. Questions such as should I pursue a regular pharmacist job out of graduation, or can I be able to strive for an entry level position in the pharmaceutical or medical writing industry? After all, the skills you gain here will take you as far as you let them. This internship program by RxPharmacist is designed to help each one of us [the interns] establish a solid foundation that will set us apart in today’s competitive workforce.   

My favorite part about this internship is the flexibility you are given when it comes to balancing your schedule. This is beneficial as I felt that I needed to practice having more of a “work-life balance” and there was no better way of doing so than with a fully remote work environment. RxPharmacist has been doing 100% remote work since 2016! For anyone seeking a non-traditional pharmacy role, this is the way to go as it may help some people realize if this path is even right for them and discover what they truly want out of a job and their life. This is why I highly recommend this internship for anyone seeking to challenge themselves, help future pharmacists, and gain new skills in a relatively short amount of time. Reflecting on my experience, I have learned more about my work and learning styles, as well my inspirations. I am more driven than ever to achieve my goals thanks to this exclusive experience I shared with my mentors and fellow interns. I hope that anyone out there who feels lost or unsure of what the future holds for them after pharmacy school explores this unique opportunity to experience it for themselves.

Shery S., University at Buffalo

A dedicated team to support you in your goals

I am a 2022 graduate of Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Institute of Public Health. In the summer following my graduation, I will begin a post-doctoral fellowship in Public Affairs and Patient Advocacy with Sanofi in conjunction with the Rutgers Pharmaceutical Industry Fellowship program. My main ambitions are becoming a leader patient advocacy that makes the healthcare a space more comfortable for patients to navigate.

Although I didn’t know what to expect, I stumbled upon the RxPharmacist internship program and applied to work on creation of a NC MPJE guide as my post-graduate fellowship program will be in North Carolina. The graduate transition program at RxPharmacist, LLC is an amazing opportunity for new pharmacy graduates looking for guidance in taking the first step in their career. I was paired with a mentor, and we talked about my goals and how to achieve them. I was also able to learn a new skill in health care writing that will surely be invaluable as a move forward. The team here is passionate about ensuring that each intern has tools for success they need in the future.

I would highly recommend their program to graduating pharmacy students especially if you want a career in medical writing, business, or other non-traditional pathways in pharmacy.

-Madison B., 2022 RxPharmacist Intern

Full Circle from First Year of Pharmacy School to Graduating with a secured Clinical Residency- RxPharmacist was always there to support!

  I was first introduced to RxPharmacist in my first year of pharmacy school when I had little idea of what I wanted to do when graduation came. As the first person in my family to pursue a professional health care degree, I was searching for a mentor and spent much of my first few months of school exploring as many paths through pharmacy as I possibly could. When I was presented with an opportunity through RxPharmacist for mentorship and an opportunity to make connections in the world of pharmacy, I was beyond ecstatic. Beyond that, I was given the chance to help to build the online platform for a company that valued students like myself, and to learn from people who were truly working to make a difference for recent graduates. I was tasked with translating written guides into the online learning modules on the website. I remember spending hours sitting quietly in my room watching YouTube videos about programming because everything was so new to me. But for those three years, I was a sponge, soaking up as much information as I could about career paths, life advice, and even the eventual licensure exams I had to take, and I had support from that RxPharmacist team every step of the way.

     When it came time for fourth year rotations, I was ready. I felt like I had so many new networking skills under my belt, and I was so excited about the people I was about to meet. The mentor I met through RxPharmacist ended up being my primary mentor throughout school. She listened to what I was looking for in a wholistic life and career, and introduced me to people in fields that I was interested in. During my fourth year, I was finally able to actually experience what these possible careers would be like for myself. I ended up falling in love with the Indian Health Service and made so many connections because I had training on the kinds of research I needed to do to connect with people as I met them! It is truly incredible how small pharmacy is, and how few degrees of separation there are between you and the person who has your dream job.

     Now, I am about to start a PGY1 with Cherokee Indian Hospital in North Carolina, and I was finally able to help create an MPJE guide of my own! I am so thankful for the opportunities that have shaped who I am today and that have helped to guide me here. During my first year at RxPharmacist, I wrote a blog post about the value of an internship and about how an internship worthy of your time is one that truly values YOU. Now, four years later, I am simply so excited to give back to new graduates because of how much this internship has given me.

-Madeline W., 2019-2022 RxPharmacist Graduate Intern

Depression: A Look at Some Novel Treatments

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Depression Overview

The World Health Organization estimates that approximately 5.0% of the world’s population suffers from depression.1 Depression is highly complex and arises from biological, environmental, and social factors. Although depression can happen at any age, the usual onset occurs during early adulthood. Sometimes, it is even common for depression to affect an individual in late adulthood as well.2  The PHQ-9 (Patient Health Questionnaire) is a widely used diagnostic tool for depression and can be accessed on the my HealthyVet VA website.

Depression is often diagnosed by psychiatrists, licensed therapists, or psychologists and is dependent on certain criteria. Depression must be present for at least two weeks consecutively, and a patient must have five or more of these symptoms2:

  • Loss of interest or pleasure in daily activities (must be present for depression diagnosis)
  • Feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or emptiness (must be present for depression diagnosis)
  • Increased or decreased appetite
  • Increased or decreased sleeping patterns
  • Decreased or slowed thinking, speaking, or movement
  • Feelings of constant guilt and worthlessness
  • Difficulty thinking or making decisions
  • Feelings of tiredness or energy loss
  • Frequent thoughts of suicide with or without a plan

These symptoms may occur every day or most of the day and must cause an individual lots of distress or interference of daily functioning. A depression diagnosis should not be attributed to the following:

  • substance use disorders,
  • adverse effects of other medications,
  • manic or hypomanic episodes, or other mental disorders such as schizophrenia, delusional disorder, or schizophreniform disorder.2

Depression can be brought about due to certain life events (loss of employment, financial loss) and tragedies (serious illness, loss of a loved one). Sometimes, there is no clear reason for what causes someone to develop depression. Depression may be transient or lifelong and it is important to discuss treatment options with providers as therapy is unique to each individual.

The usual side effects of antidepressants are diarrhea, constipation, sexual dysfunction, fatigue, and sleep disturbances. It is also very important to note that antidepressants carry a black box warning for increased thoughts of suicidality in children, adolescents, and young adults. Common treatments for depression at listed below. For a complete list of specific FDA-approved medications for depression, visit the FDA website.

  • SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors)
  • SNRIs (Serotonin Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors)
  • NDRIs (Norepinephrine Dopamine Reuptake Inhibitors)
  • TCAs (Tricyclic Antidepressants)
  • MAOIs (Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors)
  • Neurosteroids (Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid Modulators)
  • Psychotherapy
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Novel Treatments for Depression: A Breakthrough in Psychopharmacology

Recently, psychedelicshave been making headlines in the mental health world and so far, many signs are telling us they might be here to stay. As many as two-thirds of patients will not initially respond to an antidepressant, and there is increasing evidence to show that psychedelics may provide the answer that most clinicians have been searching for. In a recent United States survey, many Americans showed their support for the use of psychedelics if they were proven to be more effective than the standard treatment for mental disorders.4

Esketamine

The first psychedelic approved for treatment-resistant depression was esketamine (Spravato). Esketamine is an S-enantiomer of ketamine and an NMDA (N-methyl-D-aspartate) receptor antagonist. Granted FDA approval in 2019, esketamine’s efficacy and safety were evaluated in three parallel-group studies. All three studies looked at the Montgomery–Åsberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS) scores. The MADRS is scored from 0 to 60 (scores on the higher end show more depressive symptoms). Patients in these studies received a new antidepressant at the start of the trial (for ethical purposes) and either placebo or esketamine treatment.

Results demonstrated that there was a significant reduction in MADRS scores compared to patients’ normal baseline readings.5 Because of esketamine’s potential for abuse, the FDA conducted a withdrawal study before a new drug application was sent out for submission.

Esketamine also has a REMS (Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy) program for patient understanding of how benefits may outweigh risks.

Psilocybin

Another psychedelic treatment that is currently garnering attention for treatment-resistant depression is psilocybin. Compass Pathways, a mental healthcare company, recently completed a phase 2 double-blind, randomized controlled trial with favorable results.

The investigators of the trial compared the efficacy of psilocybin (COMP360) at 25mg, 10mg, and 1mg in 233 patients who randomly received these doses along with psychological support. Results using MADRS scores as the primary endpoint indicated that the majority of patients showed response or remission after receiving the 25mg dose by the third week.6 In addition, patients who were taking the 25mg dose were able to maintain their response at the end of the third month.6 Phase 3 is set to begin in mid 2022.7

MDMA

MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine) is a derivative of amphetamine and has gained some traction for the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in phase 3 trials. For the indication of depression, MDMA shows signs of having its place in therapy.

In a systematic review of various psychedelics used for patients with terminal illnesses, preliminary open-label results revealed a significant reduction in depression in patients taking MDMA. Although the sample size was relatively small with 13 patients receiving 125mg – 187.5mg of MDMA and 5 patients receiving placebo, depressive symptoms in patients were greatly diminished, even up to one year later.8 Other observational studies have also presented positive outcomes with MDMA reducing major depressive episodes.9 Overall, more clinical trials must be conducted to get a clearer picture of how MDMA plays a role in depression therapy.

Depression can affect the lives of many but there are lots of treatments out there that can help. From the standard treatments of SSRIs to newly approved psychedelics like esketamine, there is hope in getting better and feeling better. As we look to the future with several breakthroughs in research, it is possible that one day depression might become less and less prevalent. With psychedelics constantly on the rise in the mental health world, these treatments may become the new standard of care for patients. Until these novel treatments become the norm, it is important for healthcare workers everywhere provide quality and compassion care to those suffering from depression.

Dr. Joseph Suarez, Pharm.D. is a Medical Writer at RxPharmacist, LLC who resides in San Antonio, Texas. His interests are in psychopharmacology, psychotherapy, and reconciling healthcare disparities. Dr. Suarez is seeking opportunities to utilize his incredible medical writing talents. If you are looking to hire, you may contact Dr. Suarez via LinkedIn.

References:

  1. Depression. World Health Organization. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/depression. Published September 13, 2021. Accessed February 20, 2022. 
  2. American Psychiatric Association (APA). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th ed. (DSM-5). Washington, DC: APA, 2013.
  3. Inc. DH. Survey Finds Majority of Affected Americans Approve of Psychedelics as an Alternative Treatment to Address Anxiety, Depression and PTSD. https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/survey-finds-majority-of-affected-americans-approve-of-psychedelics-as-an-alternative-treatment-to-address-anxiety-depression-and-ptsd-301462380.html. Published January 18, 2022. Accessed February 23, 2022. 
  4. Kim J, Farchione T, Potter A, Chen Q, Temple R. Esketamine for treatment-resistant depression — first FDA-approved antidepressant in a new class. New England Journal of Medicine. 2019;381(1):1-4. doi:10.1056/nejmp1903305 
  5. Compass Pathways announces positive topline results from groundbreaking phase iib trial of investigational COMP360 psilocybin therapy for treatment-resistant depression. Compass Pathways. https://compasspathways.com/positive-topline-results/. Published November 9, 2021. Accessed February 25, 2022. 
  6. Psilocybin found to rapidly improve depressive symptoms in clinical trial. Columbia University Department of Psychiatry. https://www.columbiapsychiatry.org/news/psilocybin-found-rapidly-improve-depressive-symptoms-clinical-trial. Published November 18, 2021. Accessed February 25, 2022. 
  7. Schimmel N, Breeksema JJ, Smith-Apeldoorn SY, Veraart J, van den Brink W, Schoevers RA. Psychedelics for the treatment of depression, anxiety, and existential distress in patients with a terminal illness: A systematic review. Psychopharmacology. 2021;239(1):15-33. doi:10.1007/s00213-021-06027-y 
  8. Jones GM, Nock MK. Lifetime use of MDMA/ecstasy and psilocybin is associated with reduced odds of major depressive episodes. Journal of Psychopharmacology. 2022;36(1):57-65. doi:10.1177/02698811211066714 

Finding Your Footing After Years of Studies

Many of my peers may agree that we are often pushed and pulled in multiple directions during our education. Encouraged to find our place, we stress on discovering where we best fit in the field of pharmacy. We tend to try to tailor our interests based on the discussions with alumni, interactions with mentors, or academic experiences. However, this is still not enough. We may not immediately enjoy our first experience after earning our long-desired degree. We may regret it. Or we may feel lost if we don’t get the position we thought we’d always hoped for. Or we may feel overwhelmed because we couldn’t choose what we wanted to do. This is where I found myself after graduation. I’m sure I am not the only one who has or will be here too.

Instead of asking “what do I do now”, I changed my thinking into “what CAN I do now”. I reminded myself that I have a world of opportunities to dip into all of my interests. An area that I only had some exposure in was non-traditional pharmacy areas such as medical writing. Hence, I began exploring the roles I could have in this area by asking my classmates who had fellowships or went straight into the workforce, having phone and video calls with professionals with years of experience, and researching what they entailed. I had the pleasure to learn about RxPharmacist from a fellow peer who was an intern with the company right after we graduated. As someone who enjoys creating educational materials and staying updated on healthcare topics, medical writing seemed fitting for me and led me to apply for RxPharmacist. When I was welcomed into the company as an intern, I was happy to find a place where I could improve my proficiency in editing, quality checking, writing, and researching. Moreover, I feel lucky to have a boss and supervisor who has given me guidance in this relatively unknown area of pharmacy and motivates me to never settle for anything less than what is best for me. My mentor and preceptor were a pillar of support who I could share all my goals and obstacles with. They were instrumental in pushing me forward in my career and remain as valuable individuals that I am grateful for knowing. It is thanks to RxPharmacist that I could fully invest in all the interests that I’ve always wanted to.

-Julianne T., 2021-2022 RxPharmacist Graduate Intern

Why RxPharmacist Helps Professionals Truly Earn Their Stripes

Denzel Washington once wrote, “Show me a successful individual and I’ll show you someone who had real positive influences in his or her life. I don’t care what you do for a living — if you do it well I’m sure there was someone cheering you on or showing the way. A mentor.” [1]

Washington’s words ring true not only for himself but for everyone. It doesn’t matter if someone is an intern, contractor, associate, or director as a true mentor will always be invaluable to their development both professionally and personally throughout their career. 

RxPharmacist strives to help young professionals thrive through tailored mentorship which provides ample opportunity to paint a unique portfolio of accomplishments in their own image and color. This kind of experience is invaluable in not only helping develop those hard and soft skills, but has the additional benefit of sharpening them further into evolving and channeling a person’s unique self if they are already further along in their professional journey. 

RxPharmacist’s stellar mentorship model has benefited professionals in all walks of life. Interns are offered a wealth of support which include 1:1 mentoring, professional networking and hands-on projects which emphasize the healthy balance of teamwork and independent initiative needed to really shine in a typical workplace. Likewise, employees are consistently encouraged to try new things and venture outside their comfort zone to further refine and grow their abilities. It is not an understatement to say the bright, adventurous, and nurturing culture at RxPharmacist is the pinnacle of its success and family-like spirit. 

Anyone can develop their career anywhere, but it is the dedication and commitment of the RxPharmacist model to both personal and professional growth which sets it apart from other opportunities. At RxPharmacist, curiosity is not punished but eagerly rewarded and creativity is not pushed aside but highly embraced. There is a clear value and framework for inclusion at RxPharmacist which empowers and supports employees from all backgrounds to have a real sense of belonging and support. To earn one’s stripes is no simple feat, but with the right support and mentorship it can be just the beginning to a highly remarkable journey ahead.

Here at RxPharmacist we are always eager to welcome new interns and employees to our team, feel free to apply by submitting your information through our website. 

Bibliography 

1. Washington D. The Mentors He’ll Never Forget. Guideposts. https://www.guideposts.org/better-living/positive-living/the-mentors-hell-never-forget. Published 2007. Accessed January 26, 2022.

Helping to Find Focus and Clarity in a Cloud of Uncertainty

Being a part of RxPharmacist has been rewarding in many ways. Thanks to a colleague and friend, I was introduced to the RxPharmaicst Internship opportunity and applied. Prior to applying, I was really confused about professional plans after graduating from pharmacy school (May 2020). As on the verge of graduating with my pharmacy degree in 2020, I also had no plans for the next phase of my life. I later successfully passed the NAPLEX exam but found myself struggling to pass my state’s MPJE exam. At RxPharmacist, I served as a Data Analytic Informatics Intern, in charge of creating online MPJE content. While doing so, I was also able to study for the MPJE at my own pace and passed!

I have witnessed the profession of Pharmacy play a vital role in alleviating chronic and infectious diseases which stirred my intellectual curiosity. This was further reinforced when I witnessed my father having a diabetic attack, which almost led to a stroke. Barriers such as lack of affordable healthcare and medication non-adherence was the leading cause of his inability to properly manage his condition. This incident left a huge impression on me and re-established my desire to want to help engage underserved populations in better managing their disease condition through my public health expertise, pharmacy, and other clinical initiatives. From my personal experience, I can engage and empathize with healthcare providers, patients, and their families in understanding the outcomes that are important to them and co-creating sustainable solutions.

Over the years of schooling obtaining a Master’s in Public Health: Epidemiology and Biostatistics, and Doctor of Pharmacy degree, I’ve acquired the necessary research, analytical and statistical skills including methods to test hypothesis for association or causality of different risk factors and health outcomes in different populations, as well as build clinical knowledge to effectively promote and deliver optimal healthcare. In addition, I have been able to work within teams to evaluate the clinical effectiveness and value of the Pneumococcal vaccine in pediatrics in the state of Maryland, working with the Maryland Emerging Infections Program and Active Bacterial Core Surveillance team at Johns Hopkins University in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The research was a case-control study that evaluated the effectiveness of the 13-valent Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine (PCV13) against invasive Pneumococcal disease (IPD) in children 2-59 months living in Baltimore. Clinical endpoints were not assessed for the new antigens, which led us to conduct a post-licensure matched case-control study to assess vaccine effectiveness.

Joining RxPharmacist gave me better insight on how to constructively figure out my life goals while helping other students succeed to prepare for their NAPLEX, MPJE, and BCPS exams.  The internship later convinced me that the next stage of my learning may lay in the field of public health professionally as a pharmacist. The internship led to an opportunity to continue my development as a Public Health professional, serving as an Epidemiologist. I later plan to combine my public health and pharmacy efforts linking disease prevalence and drug utilization, to enable development of effective health policies, as well as allow disease prevention to be placed within a larger context. At RxPharmacist, I found being in an environment that’s right for me in terms of performing tasks that allow for personal enjoyment and professional growth.

-Catherine W., 2021 RxPharmacist Intern

A new beginning- RxPharmacist Intern Testimonial

Transitioning to a brand new career in pharmacy was daunting for me, especially after graduating pharmacy school. When I found out about RxPharmacist, LLC through my pharmacy school, I knew it was my last chance to take a leap of faith before venturing to a new path of my own. As we are all facing this devastating COVID-19 pandemic, I knew that being open to new opportunities instead of being selective would help me in the long run, and I am glad that RxPharmacist was there when I needed them the most.

In a sense I knew what I wanted in a career, but I felt I didn’t quite have my skills refined just yet. As soon as I found out there was a medical writing position available through RxPharmacist, LLC, I immediately took the position and gave it my best that I had. During this program I had a chance to improve my medical and technical writing skills as well as my time management. I also worked beside amazing people who had my best interests in mind and their mentorship was the best I have experienced as a pharmacist.

My specific project with RxPharmacist, LLC was working on a Board Certified Pharmacist Specialist® guide to help thousands of seasoned pharmacists pass their boards. This project exceedingly expanded my knowledge of pharmacotherapy beyond what my studies encompassed in pharmacy school and that knowledge is transferable in whatever capacity I will end up in. Currently, I am pursuing a PGY-1 residency program and the valuable skills I have taken with me from RxPharmacist, LLC will undoubtedly help me achieve my goal of entering into a program that is the perfect fit for me. I recommend RxPharmacist, LLC to any pharmacy student or graduate who needs to refine any skills needed for success and am grateful that I chose RxPharmacist, LLC to allow me to be a part of their team.

– Joseph S.

University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth, 2021 PharmD Graduate

2021 Intern Testimonial!

Intern Testimonial

Before my internship with RxPharmacist, I really had no idea what was possible with medical writing in the field of pharmacy. Now I’ve learned that it can really just be whatever you make of it. If you’re interested in a certain aspect of pharmacy, no matter how niche, there’s bound to be others just like you who are willing to read your work on it. I personally am interested in compounding and veterinary pharmacy, and was able to work on RcPharmacist’s first compounding guides!

The biggest thing I appreciated about this internship is how mutually beneficial it is. I got to work on projects that interested me and was given the opportunity to improve my own writing skills. RxPharmacist got to have content by pharmacists, for pharmacists. Everyone in the field of pharmacy benefits from the work put out by RxPharmacist. Like pretty much every new graduate, I had to also study for the NAPLEX and MPJE while working the internship. They understand this and will work with you and your schedule to make sure you feel comfortable and are successful!

Another thing I greatly enjoyed about the internship was the mentorship and networking that happened on the side. My mentor acted as the editor for my guide, and was always supportive and willing to give feedback. They try to match your mentor to your interests, and while my interests were sort of niche, my mentor was still a great source of information and mentorship. One of my mentors knew other pharmacists who were currently working in the fields that I’m interested in, and helped me connect with them to further network. I had some of the nicest mentors a new graduate could ask for.

-Christina I., 2021 RxPharmacist Intern

University of Texas at Austin

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