Pharmacist Spotlight: Erika Fitzgerald
Our January spotlight features Erika Fitzgerald of Cheney Pharmacy in Cheney, Kan. Erika shared with us her path to becoming a pharmacist and why she loves working for her community.
When did you realize that you wanted to become a pharmacist?
I was always interested in health care when I was in high school but knew I wouldn’t be able to “stomach” much of the professions I had researched. I got a job (at the pharmacy I still work at today) when I was 16. It was honestly “love at first sight.” I had never stepped foot into a pharmacy until I started working at Cheney Pharmacy so I didn’t understand what pharmacy even was. The medicine was fascinating and the close relationship with the patients was amazing. Merlin McFarland mentored me and the rest is history!
What made you want to become an independent pharmacist?
Without a doubt, the close relationship with my patients. I want to be as accessible as possible to my patients and they need to know that I will advocate for them to the best of my ability. From experience, this is very challenging in a chain pharmacy.
What do you find most rewarding about working in independent pharmacy?
Watching my rock star team go above and beyond for our patients and watching how much they positively impact them. The feedback I get from my patients really fuels my passion for independent pharmacy.
What advice would you offer to students still in pharmacy school or those considering becoming a pharmacist?
The world of pharmacy is quickly evolving into a much more clinical area of health care. This change is so exciting but that means that we all have to wrap our minds around what that means. Focusing on your clinical skills will benefit you once you graduate!
What are you most proud of that your pharmacy has accomplished?
One of my team members recognized an adherence issue while on delivery at one of our elderly patient’s house who lives alone. She lives 10 miles outside of town. This patient was enrolled in our synchronization program and was not conveying that she had medication left over every month. Upon recognition of the issue, we enrolled her in our adherence packaging program and deliver weekly bubble packs to her now so we can closely monitor. Her doctor and her daughter have called and expressed how thankful they are and how important this was to her health.
Like I said, I have a rock star team!