Alumni Spotlight: Carlos Randulfe, PharmD
Equipped with a Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD), MCPHS alumnus Carlos Randulfe has paved himself a unique professional pathway—one that includes cancer research, Harvard Medical School, and a role in the United States military.
“What do you want to be when you grow up?”
It’s a question posed to children and teenagers, one that follows them from their first year of grade school to their last year of high school. And, like many high school seniors, Carlos Randulfe wasn’t exactly sure how to answer it.
However, though he wasn’t set on what he wanted to “be,” he was certain of what he wanted to do: Carlos wanted to better understand the world around him, and from there, affect positive change.
As an undergraduate at Florida International University (FIU), he discovered that a career in healthcare, and specifically one in drug discovery and development, afforded him the opportunity to fulfill both goals. His interest in studying drug mechanisms, coupled with a drive to provide patient-first pharmacotherapeutic care and conduct research, brought him to the pillared doors of MCPHS, where he began to pursue his Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD).
“From the use of medicinal plants in ancient times, to the groundbreaking discovery of penicillin in 1928, to new pharmacotherapeutic approaches to cancer, the emergence of new drugs has revolutionized medicine over time,” says Carlos.
As a first-year PharmD candidate, Carlos immersed himself in MCPHS’s on-campus opportunities. Alongside a team of other students, he began conducting bench cancer research, studying how to formulate a cell membrane lipid-extracted nanoliposome (CLENS) drug platform that would be used to treat prostate cancer. The efforts were led by former Harvard Medical School postdoctoral research fellow Dr. Robert Campbell.
Carlos worked on Dr. Campbell’s team throughout his time in the MCPHS PharmD program. In his final year, the team submitted a review paper abstract to the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) Midyear Clinical Meeting, an event designed to provide health-system pharmacy practitioners with a place to network, share knowledge and learn from one another. The abstract, of which Carlos was the primary author, analyzed the use of experimental and clinical strategies to overcome drug resistance in prostate cancer. The abstract was approved and successfully presented—a huge accomplishment for any research team.
After graduation, Carlos’s accomplishments as a PharmD candidate helped open doors professionally. Equipped with an impressive resume, glowing reference letters, and an esteemed mentor (Dr. Campbell), he began to investigate career opportunities and ultimately accepted a role as a Health Service Administrator in the Army Reserves.
“I’ve had a strong desire to join the military since high school, and toward the end of pharmacy school, I wanted to expand on my healthcare management experiences and better understand the structure of institutions in which pharmacy plays a key role,” says Carlos. “I joined the Army Reserves as a way to capitalize on my knowledge and contribute to a cause bigger than myself.”
As a health services administrator, Carlos’s responsibilities include planning, monitoring and coordinating patient treatment, and advising his unit commander and staff on how to set up treatment stations and evacuation platforms. He also practices preventive medicine, distributes medical supplies, and trains other soldiers. Carlos feels that his MCPHS education helped prepare him for this role and its accompanying responsibilities.
“My MCPHS education allowed me to know and understand the uses of drugs found in the army formulary, as well as the inner workings of a hospital,” says Carlos. “Such information is very helpful when working on a team, specifically a military team, made out of different providers and healthcare personnel.”
In addition to having earned his PharmD and working in a full-time position, Carlos is continuing to forward his career by way of Harvard Medical School’s Global Clinical Scholars Research Training Program (GCSRT). The program, designed for clinical researchers and scholars with prior research experience, is a year-long, cohort-based program that consists of blended, online didactic lectures. Students enrolled in the program, many of whom work full-time, complete different assignments and research proposals in collaboration with a team. Upon successful completion of the program, the students are granted a Certificate of Completion and will be eligible to become Associate Members of the Harvard Medical School and Harvard University Alumni Association.
Carlos’s long-held interest in education (and putting his learnings to work) is evident in both his academic and professional paths. As a practicing pharmacist and future HMS-affiliated student, his knowledge of the healthcare industry continues to grow, while his position in the military affords him the opportunity to shape how pharmaceutical healthcare is delivered in a relatively uncharted field.
His journey showcases the unique and vast opportunities that arise from pursuing a degree in pharmacy, and more specifically, a PharmD. Carlos hopes to share his nontraditional experiences as a way to demonstrate that, within the constantly evolving field of healthcare, anything is possible.
“Within the upcoming years, pharmacy professions will continue to diversify and include different career pathways,” says Carlos. “Passionate students, especially those interested in gaining overall drug expertise, should complete pharmacy school as soon as possible in preparation of the field’s evolution.”
For those passionate, prospective students, Carlos knows exactly where they can begin.
“The MCPHS School of Pharmacy curriculum is second to none in combining pharmacotherapy with pharmacology, hard sciences such as biochemistry and physiology, and experiential training. As a result, new graduates who wish to apply to positions outside the conventional pharmacy setting should feel very confident in doing so,” says Carlos.
Carlos has one additional piece of advice for students, future healthcare leaders, and anyone who, like him, hopes to build knowledge and affect change: The time and hard work you invest in your journey will be worth it.
“Everyone should try to be the best they can be in any situation, especially while working in the field of healthcare. For many, including myself, the most rewarding experiences came in the face of adversity. The ability to be resilient and bounce back from setbacks and mistakes is crucial to your success. Let past losses contribute to your present (and future) wins, and never give up on your dreams.”
The full-time six-year Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) program at MCPHS–Boston prepares students for exciting and meaningful future careers as pharmacists.