We all have our favorite Pharmacist. I tell every Pharmacist I meet to “Think VA!” and I would encourage everyone to pass this along to your favorite Pharmacist. I want to introduce you to one of my favorites, Christina White. I asked her to share her VA story…
Reflections from a Former Pharmacy Administration Resident.
I was one of those strange kids that knew exactly what they wanted to do with my life. I was determined to go to Butler University to become a Pharmacist. In fact, I only applied to one other school just as a back-up plan, but I really wanted to go to Butler and not the “other” school. When I started at Butler in 2001, my father persuaded me to pursue their PharmD/MBA dual degree. I quickly learned that it was my niche. I found the business side of healthcare to be fascinating and knew that I would not be pursuing a “traditional” pharmacy career working behind a counter for a retail chain. Upon graduating from Butler University in 2007, I opted to complete two years of residency: a PGY1 Pharmacy Residency and a PGY2 Health-System Pharmacy Administration Residency at the Richard L. Roudebush VA Medical Center in Indianapolis, Indiana.
It was after my second year of residency when I first encountered a fear of the unknown. It was the first time in my life when I had no idea what I wanted to do next. The PharmD, MBA, and two years of residency had prepared me well and I had several paths to choose from, including clinical pharmacist jobs and management opportunities with various hospitals and healthcare systems. One thing was certain, however: I wanted to stay with VA. Nowhere else even came close to matching VA’s practice autonomy and advancement opportunities at the local, regional, and national levels. I could see myself having a long-term career with VA – not just a job.
As fate would have it, the VA’s Pharmacy Benefits Management Services (PBM) was starting a new office in 2009 dedicated to improving the recruitment and retention of its pharmacy staff. They were looking for a pharmacist with experience in marketing, human resources management, and financial management to assist the Director with managing the office’s operations while also maintaining a clinical practice at any VA facility. This was perfect for me! One application and an interview later, I was hired to be the Business Manager for the Pharmacy Recruitment & Retention Office (PRRO). It has truly been the best of both worlds, as I get to use my business skills and clinical skills regularly. I have had the opportunity to travel all across the country and have met some incredible people along the way. Only VA would offer such innovative roles for pharmacists!
All paths, however, come to a crossroads and I recently had to decide if I was going to stay in my current position or pursue a promotional opportunity as the Assistant Chief at the Roudebush VA Medical Center in Indianapolis. I felt as if this was the most logical next step in my career and that my education and training had prepared me well for this challenge, so I took the leap and applied. One application and an interview later, I got the job and will be transitioning into my new role on December 19th.
I feel so proud to be a part of VA and its mission to care for America’s heroes. The leadership and management opportunities that VA has to offer are abundant for those interested in this type of career path. As Robert Frost said, “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – I took the one less traveled by and that has made all the difference.”
Explore your road today at www.VAcareers.va.gov.