UT College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences News

Remarks from 2011 PharmD Valedictorian, Dr. Lindsey Wasco

WascoAll throughout pharmacy school, I waited for a class or perhaps a semester when I would know that I was ready to take care of patients and make clinical decisions. It seemed simple: after suffering the basics and surviving all of the modules, I would be all set to practice pharmacy effectively and assertively. Unfortunately, this moment never came. Yes, I could select the appropriate answer on a multiple-choice exam, and when presented with a patient case, I could sift through the PAGE of organized subjective and objective evidence, identify problems, and create reasonable treatment plans.  Despite the ability to “cure” these one-page cases, I still felt like something was missing.  There was still so much I did not know; so much I still had to look up, so much I required our professors to point out! How could I possibly be ready to go work with actual patients? I wondered when the moment would come where I would no longer feel like a student.

Rotations brought me face to face with my self-doubt and clinical insecurities.  Ready or not, I became the pharmacist for the team. In the beginning, I said little, afraid that my limited experience would do more harm than help.  Each day, I would jot down the problems that I identified, but I would always seek confirmation of my recommendations from my preceptor.  It is this lack of trust in our knowledge and judgment that holds us back from becoming clinicians.  One preceptor finally called me out: “this is your team,” he told me one day after rounds. “You make the plans. I am here to intervene only if you might do harm. Otherwise, I am not here to make your decisions or provide you with answers.” It was blunt, but this comment and independence motivated me and forced me to take control.  I had my successes –choosing insulin regimens to bring Mr. Smith’s sugars down from 300; recognizing the gaps in antibiotic coverage when a patient worsened; in fact, I was the renal dose and DVT prophylaxis queen.  But not every day was so encouraging – there were many instances when I did not know an answer, days when my recommendations were shot down, and unfortunately, days when my interventions were unsuccessful or wrong.  Interestingly, sometimes these moments are when we learn the most.  I will never forget the answers to questions I was unprepared for on rounds.

Eventually, I discovered that there is not one defining moment where everything comes together and we will know everything there is to know about pharmacy.  Instead, becoming a clinician is a slow transition involving acceptance of the privilege of taking care patients, faith in ourselves and our abilities, and a commitment to life-long learning. Our education here provided us with all the necessary tools to be successful pharmacists.  It is now up to us to utilize these tools to supplement what we may not know.  In the end, we will always be learning. Being motivated and dedicated enough to continue this process is what will ultimately allow us to effectively treat our patients.

Dr. Wasco is one of five PharmD valedictorians from the 2011 graduating class. Read more about the other valedictorians

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is the Scientific Editor and College Communicator for The University of Toledo College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences. She is a triple alumna of The University of Toledo with master's degrees in English and Education and a graduate certificate in Patient Advocacy.
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