A Vision for the Next Generation of Practitioners

Amanda Waltemath, PharmD, MPH, is a clinical pharmacist at Healthesystems She leverages her special interest in pain management and data analysis to direct the firm’s opioid therapy management program and develop risk assessment tools for workers’ compensation payers. Her responsibilities include creating medication formularies for clients; tracking and analyzing pharmacy trends, and conducting drug therapy reviews and pharmacotherapy evaluations. In addition, she provides educational programs on emerging issues in prescription drug therapies and serves as a clinical resource for clients and colleagues.
Why do I teach? A vision for the next generation of practitioners.
A wise old man once said, “It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”
 
Years and years ago, I participated in a medical mission trip to Honduras. Toward the end of our stay, we visited the children’s hospital in Tegucigalpa to drop off supplies and visit the patients. The children were undernourished and many were very ill; they slept on bare mattresses with no blankets or pillows. But what struck me the most was that in place of IV medication, the children had syringes stuck in their arms, held in place with a small piece of cardboard and duct tape. That sight haunted me for years.
 
I have chosen a non-traditional path in pharmacy.
 
Ultimately, I decided that pharmacy was a good fit due to my fascination with the way things work, the detail and complexity in the biochemical pathways, and the complicated puzzle of drug interactions. But I additionally discovered that pharmacy could be integrated with my interest and emotional investment in the field of public health.
 
Life experiences with diverse communities and issues prepare us for the social and cultural perspective that steers public health. It requires an understanding of how people function and their priorities in seeking and receiving healthcare; it requires an understanding not only of medicine and pharmacology, but of economics, religion, philosophy, sociology, medical ethics, and language. This multifaceted world view encourages a sociological perspective in how we can better understand medicine and healthcare.
 
That view is something I want to pass along to the next generation of pharmacists.
 
We are a world at war. We are at war with disease, with opioid addiction and drug overdose, with methadone babies, and with housewives with heroin. We are at war with antiquated policies butting up against new research and therapies. We are at war with inaccessibility to costly life-saving therapies, with resistance to antibiotics, with constantly changing healthcare laws, and with a shifting landscape of older patients yet fewer solutions.
 


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