Getting the Clinical Edge to Succeed
Lina Hasan, PharmD ’22, works more than 50 hours a week as a pharmacist based in Houston, TX. She was attracted to the online 24-month Non-Traditional Doctor of Pharmacy program because it gives practicing pharmacists the ability to obtain a PharmD while still continuing their full-time jobs.
Lina Hasan, PharmD ’22, explains that the Non-Traditional Doctor of Pharmacy gave her the clinical edge she required to succeed in the workplace. “I always felt that I needed something to help me stay competitive in the very demanding and rapidly changing pharmacy market,” Hasan says, and when I found out about the Non-Traditional PharmD at MCPHS, I knew that’s exactly what I wanted. I needed to sharpen my clinical skills with additional formal education that could provide the proper tools and skills to be a better clinician."
The Non-Traditional Doctor of Pharmacy program is designed for U.S. licensed pharmacists (graduates of a U.S. or international school of pharmacy) who would like to advance their careers by earning their PharmD degree. Pharmacists can continue to practice while earning the degree through this online, part-time program. They are required to complete up to four, 160-hour clinical rotations at the end of the program but may apply to waive up to three of the four.
Although Hasan was already equipped with a bachelor’s degree and had passed the required certifications to practice as a pharmacist, she felt that she needed advanced education because the pharmacy job market is so competitive.
"This is a really good program to help you improve your clinical knowledge,” Hasan says.
She notes that most students with a bachelor of pharmacy degree have not been exposed to clinical rotations or evidence-based medicine. For Hasan, the ability to gain that crucial knowledge changed her mindset and the way that she practices as a pharmacist. “The program doesn’t just say learn it, memorize it, and then go and take a test. They teach you how to research, how to look for the most recent information, and how to use evidence-based medicine to treat your patient. As a clinician, your way of thinking changes, your way of practicing changes, and you learn how to use up-to-date guidelines to provide the best healthcare to the patient."
Hasan says that she enjoyed the pharmacotherapeutics course that employs a problem-based approach to pharmacotherapy, involving lectures, literature review, and faculty case discussions.
“What I like is that all the lectures are from practicing pharmacists in different settings. For example, the lecture on infectious diseases is given by a pharmacist who works in infectious diseases, so it’s not just a professor who reads books and gives you a lecture, but it is someone who is actually practicing in the field. They give you real-life scenarios that you may experience.”
She also points out that there are multiple professors who teach a course so she is able to get many perspectives from different experts who specialize in the topic.
Boosting Confidence in the Workplace
As someone who loves to learn, Hasan says that the MCPHS NTDP program has boosted her confidence in the workplace.
“As a prior-authorization pharmacist, I am required to do peer-to-peer reviews over the phone with doctors. Now, when I speak to a doctor, I can advise them if the treatment plan is supported by the guidelines and medical literature or not. Before, it would have taken me longer to find the information. Now, I’m able to have a more detailed discussion with the doctor and use my clinical judgement to apply it.”
She noted that this experience of feeling more confident in the workplace was a sentiment echoed by her classmates.
Using Resources To Succeed
As a non-native English speaker, Hasan initially felt overwhelmed by the writing component of the coursework until her coordinator recommended reaching out to The Writing Center. She met with that team a couple of times a week to improve her writing skills and credits her success in the program to their assistance.
“I really improved in that aspect because last semester, I only needed to do two reviews with The Writing Center. Also, at the beginning, I was not really following the instructions of the program coordinators that much, but when I started applying their tips and advice, it made the program more doable. If you asked me two years ago if I could do a two-year program with a hectic work schedule, I would have said it was impossible, but now I’m here to say that it is doable—but you have to put in the work."