Putting Classroom Learning to the Test
Author: Jennifer Whartenby, Senior Managing Editor
McKaya Schmit guided patients through a natural disaster.
Mckaya Schmit, a 2013 PharmD candidate at North Dakota State University College of Pharmacy, Nursing, and Allied Sciences, learned firsthand during pharmacy school how different the controlled classroom setting can be from real-world patient care situations.
When her hometown experienced a massive flood in the summer of 2011, Schmit discovered that pharmacy practice can be an exercise in problem solving and quick thinking. Working as a pharmacy intern at the time, Schmit helped move the inventory of one local pharmacy location to another. The staff went from filling 300 prescriptions per day to 600 per day overnight.
“We were able to serve the community by keeping our doors open and providing emergency fills for those affected by the flood,” Schmit said. “It was a very busy time in the pharmacy and required us to quickly reorganize our normal routine to help keep up with the needs of our patients. It was definitely a learning opportunity and, hopefully, a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”
Thankfully, February’s RESPy winner has had many other rich learning experiences that were not nearly as stressful. Because of her interest in public health, Schmit has participated in a variety of community-based initiatives to promote wellness. She founded the “Health Hearts for Valentine’s Day” event to provide blood pressure screenings and cardiac health information to the local community, and participated in “The Great Health Care Adventure,” a program designed to teach healthy habits and provide medication safety tips to third graders.
Schmit also spearheaded a medication therapy management (MTM) program at a rural pharmacy practice, an experience that she told Pharmacy Times has changed the direction of her career.
Q: Why did you decide to become a pharmacist?
A: Growing up, I had always been interested in and excelled in math and science, and knew that I wanted a career involving both. I also knew that I wouldn’t be able to handle blood and guts, and decided that being a physician would not be the right choice, so I went with pharmacy. It wasn’t until after my freshman year of college when I was able to work as an intern at White Drug Pharmacy that I knew that I had made the right decision. I loved watching the pharmacist counsel patients on their prescriptions, answer physician questions, and help patients with OTC medications. I couldn’t wait for the day that I would be a pharmacist and have the opportunity to share my knowledge with patients, peers, and students.
Q: What has been your most rewarding extracurricular activity?
A: My most rewarding extracurricular activity was being president of Christian Pharmacists Fellowship International. When I became president my P3 year, a large majority of the group graduated, leaving us with a very small group. We made it our goal to grow the group in both number and service activities. By the end of the year, we tripled our members and initiated many new programs. Some of our largest programs included preparation for a medical mission trip to Guatemala and designing OTC booklets for pregnant mothers and children. These projects were both so rewarding, because we were able to serve not only in our own community but also in another country. I was so proud of the accomplishments that this group was able to achieve in just 1 year.
Q: Tell us about your experience setting up MTM in a small town pharmacy.
A: During my first rotation at Trumm Drug in Glenwood, Minnesota, I was given the wonderful opportunity to work with pharmacists there to initiate medic ation therapy management (MTM) services for their patients. I was able to meet with the first set of MTM patients and also provide home visits. Meeting with these patients has been my favorite part of rotations. It was so rewarding to be able to work hand in hand with patients to improve their health care. This experience also taught me how to document and charge for the services provided. Being a part of this project is what led me to pursue an ambulatory care residency to help promote this new avenue of primary pharmacy care.
About the School
North Dakota State University College of Pharmacy, Nursing, and Allied Sciences includes the departments of pharmaceutical science and pharmacy practice, which was established in 1902. In addition to a traditional PharmD, the school offers dual degrees leading to a PharmD/MBA and PharmD/PhD, as well as a new joint PharmD/MPH degree.