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MCPHS PharmD student Nataly Estrin.

Nataly Estrin PharmD ’19 on the Ever-Evolving Role of the Pharmacist

  • “I like the flexibility of what one can do with a PharmD,” said Estrin. “The role of the pharmacist is continuously expanding, so what pharmacists were able to do 10 years ago and what we can do now is drastically different.”

    The ever-evolving status of the pharmacy industry means that, for Estrin and students like her, there is always something new to learn. “There’s always an opportunity to learn something new. Drugs keep getting developed, guidelines change, and patients change,” said Estrin. “I like the idea of being in a field where you have so many options. I feel like it’s a degree that allows you to be a learner for the rest of your life.”

    Now a fifth -year student in the Doctor of Pharmacy program at Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (MCPHS), Estrin is working toward her dream career: to serve as a clinical pharmacist within a large academic institution.

    We sat down with Estrin to learn more about her program and why she’s so excited by the pharmacy field.

    What most excites you about the pharmacy field?

    To me, the most exciting part of the field of pharmacy is how quickly it is growing with the expansion of prescriber status and the recognition of pharmacists as mid-level practitioners.

    What is your favorite part of the program?

    My favorite part of the program is the people here—whether it’s students from my year, older students who act as role models, or professors. Students can understand each other’s struggles because we are all going through the program together.

    Why did you choose MCPHS?

    I chose MCPHS because of the location! Boston, a healthcare hub and the greatest city in the world, is hard to compare with anywhere else. There are numerous world-renowned medical institutions here, it’s an easy city to get around, and there is so much for students to do. All of these factors made MCPHS an easy decision for me!

    What are your professors like?

    The professors at the university have undoubtedly enhanced my experience here. I’ve had the opportunity to meet with a large portion of the faculty, whether it be during events, in regard to class material, or most important, to learn more about their fields. I consider myself extremely lucky to have so many faculty whom I consider mentors—people who are always available either by email or in their offices to help me if I have a problem, or to catch up after a hiatus.

    Can you tell us about a specific time in your program when you’ve collaborated with faculty, either in class our outside of class?

    As president of Phi Lambda Sigma, the Pharmacy Leadership Society, I have had the opportunity to collaborate with professors to plan events. The most recent event I hosted was a hypertension guideline review session in which a professor updated students in all years of the program on the new American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology hypertension guidelines. Through this event, 50 students were able to learn from a professor who donated her time to teach students outside of the classroom.

    What’s your advice for someone in the PharmD program?

    My advice for someone considering pursuing a PharmD is to get involved! Before I really started getting involved during my third year, I was much less driven. I didn’t know how to apply a lot of the information I was learning in classes to the real world, but when I started volunteering for events I began putting my knowledge to use. This made me that much more excited to go to class and learn about medications and treatments.

    You completed one of your clinical placements with the VA in Bedford, Massachusetts. Can you tell us about your experience there?

    During my time at the VA (Veterans Affairs medical center), I got to experience pharmacy in a new light. Because the VA does not directly bill patients for pharmacy services, I never had to worry that insurance would limit a patient’s ability to get a medication. I learned about the center’s policies and procedures, and joined clinical pharmacists on rounds. I rounded on alcohol and substance abuse floors, and it was a unique experience getting to work with all of the members of the healthcare team—pharmacists, physicians, nurses, nutritionists, and clinical coordinators.

    Did your clinical experience at the VA impact your future plans as pharmacist?

    My clinical experience assured me that I want to have a direct impact on patients’ lives. I loved being able to understand the suggestions that the clinical pharmacist was making, and it made me excited to be able to make recommendations on my own.

    Tell us about your very best MCPHS memory or moment.

    My best MCPHS moment came during the winter of my fourth year, was when I was accepted into Phi Lambda Sigma, the Pharmacy Leadership Society in which peers recognize peers for their leadership. Through acceptance into this organization, I’ve accomplished more than I believed I could. I have had the opportunity to present a poster at the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists’ Midyear Clinical Meeting in Orlando, Florida; created lasting relationships with professors; and hosted events that I believe will foster growth and leadership in younger students.

    The full-time, six-year Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) program at MCPHS–Boston prepares students for exciting and meaningful future careers as pharmacists.