Alumni Matthew Argo, PharmD ‘09

Alumni Spotlight: Matthew Argo, PharmD ‘09

May 16, 2016

  • As a pharmacy manager in his home state of Texas, Matthew Argo, PharmD ’09 is passionate about making a difference in the lives of his patients by providing the best possible care, including placing an emphasis on patient education.

    For Matthew, it all began in the Accelerated Doctor of Pharmacy program on the Worcester campus. His time in the PharmD program was filled with hard work, persistence – and a powerful sense of community.

    “Commencement was one of the most gratifying times of my life,” said Matthew. “I looked back and was able to reflect on how much I had grown during my time at MCPHS and the things I was able to accomplish, the difference I made, the lifetime relationships I had built, the students and the patients I had helped, and how grateful I am to everyone, in school and out, who helped encourage and push me to the finish line.”

    We sat down with Matthew, who earned excellence awards in tutoring and lab research during his time at MCPHS, to learn more about his experience at MCPHS and his inspiration as a pharmacist.

    Why did you choose a career in pharmacy?

    I fell in love with pharmacy within twenty-five minutes of wearing a technician lab coat my first day at the pharmacy. I knew I wanted to be a pharmacist. I do this because I truly like to help people. It has been everything I imagined it would be in pharmacy school and more. I feel I’ve made a real and measurable difference in the lives of the patients I care for.

    What is your favorite part of your career as a pharmacist?

    My favorite part is educating patients on how drugs work and what to expect, usually delving in pretty deep about why certain side effects occur and how they can be avoided – so, I really place a lot of emphasis on patient education.

    Why did you choose the Accelerated PharmD program at MCPHS?

    The accelerated aspect set things apart, as well as accessibility to places in the northeast while going to school. Worcester is really kind of smack dab in the middle of everything.

    What is your favorite thing about Worcester?

    There’s many schools in the area so there are a lot of places to have fun and let loose with students from other schools.

    What was your favorite place to grab coffee, lunch, or dinner in the city?

    I loved that deli I can’t think of right now in St Vincent’s Hospital across from the salon. Pretty much ate there every day. I also liked Funky Murphy’s and the other place next to it. 111 Chophouse is an all-time favorite.

    Describe the PharmD program.

    Hard, fast, intense, rewarding, thorough, more than adequate preparation. I scored in the 95th percentile on my NAPLEX exam, took two months off from books after graduation, studied for twenty-five hours and BAM. Not the smartest person on the planet, I just loved what I learned. You remember things you love!

    What type of student thrives in the PharmD program?

    Someone who is good with and enjoys being around people and forming relationships. No way I get through the program without the support of classmates going through the same thing. A student dedicated to helping people, that has an innate desire to learn the subject matter, has a strong heart, and is 100% committed to being the best pharmacist they can be.

    What was your favorite course you took at MCPHS?

    Medicinal Chemistry. It is the basis of pharmacy. If you know the fundamentals of the chemistry of drugs, you know so many things. You can predict side effects, mechanism and duration of action, distribution patterns, spectrum of activity against pathogens. It’s amazing. It makes learning other aspects of the profession so much easier because it is directly related to the chemistry of a drug. Why choose this drug? Because attributes X and Y of the chemical structure cause desired effect A and B and avoid potential adverse effect J and K.

    Tell us about your experience during rotations.

    Aside from Med Chem, rotations are where I excelled and was therefore my next favorite thing. It really gave me an opportunity to apply the knowledge I had gained and show I knew it in a way that I knew how. I was able to interact with patients and observe my preceptors in their arena, siphoning off their knowledge and how they practiced. It was the culmination of the whole experience and really helped me decide what type of pharmacist I wanted to be and how I was going to do it.

    Any time I had a rotation at a hospital, I asked and was given permission to sit in on surgeries. My preceptors really went out of their way to give me this experience they could tell I wanted so badly. It was probably the most memorable time.

    Tell us about one of those experiences.

    I was in the OR at Baystate Medical in Springfield, MA watching a gastric lap-banding surgery. The anesthesiologist was a resident and super cool. He let me draw up drugs and infuse them in the patient, let me guess what drug we should give when and at what dose, even let me pull out the orogastric tube from this patient’s stomach. With my ungloved hands, bile all over them. It was a little gross but way more awesome. It was such a rewarding experience. The only thing I had been doing to this point is reading about these drugs and visualizing what type of effect they had. This was like “Woah! That’s what that looks like!!?? That’s how long it takes to work. That’s what a patient looks like when they’re brain is succumbing to the effects of Propofol! ”

    How did MCPHS help you prepare for your career?

    MCPHS provided the basis of knowledge required to function as a pharmacist in the retail setting, as well as research methods and techniques. The most important non-academic aspect of the education was the stress on professionalism, integrity, responsibility, and ethics. I feel like these values were constantly impressed upon me throughout my time at MCPHS and although a lot certain “ticky-tacky” requirements seemed silly at the time, I think they played a critically important role in my professional development.

    The Accelerated Doctor of Pharmacy program, offered on our Worcester, MA and Manchester, NH campus, empowers students to earn their PharmD in just 34 months.