Oska Lawrence_resizedFor many doctor of pharmacy graduates, they look forward to graduation and finally working as a pharmacists. For Oska Lawrence ‘12, he was excited to begin a postgraduate year one (PGY-1) residency at the Veterans Affairs (VA) San Diego Healthcare System in San Diego, CA.

As a member of an institution that provides services to more than 232,441 veterans in the San Diego and Imperial Valley counties, Lawrence played a critical role in providing direct patient care in practice settings such as ambulatory care and internal medicine and specialty settings such as oncology and infectious diseases. Lawrence found the competitive nature of the environment rewarding but he also ran into some challenges. “One of the most challenging aspects of conducting a residency was the transition from student to clinical practitioner. In the VA practice setting pharmacists are highly valued for their expertise and their participation during rounds and in the outpatient clinic settings provide us the opportunity to make impactful decisions,” he said.

Today, Lawrence has completed his PGY-1 residency and started his postgraduate year two (PGY-2) residency in critical care at the same institution. In his new role, he will be assisting the pulmonary/critical care team with providing in-patient services and will have the opportunity to participate in code blues (a medical emergency in which a team of medical personnel work to revive an individual in cardiac arrest) and precept both pharmacy residents and students.

Lessons he learned from his PGY-1 residency will help prepare him for his PGY-2 residency. “The hardest lesson I learned was being able to take a breath and think clearly while under pressure. No matter how critical the situation, your efforts mean nothing if you are not timely and accurate,” he said.

While preparing for his future, he also reflects on his past, explaining that his leadership roles helped prepare him for his career. At Pacific, Lawrence served as pharmacy senator on the 2010-2011 American Pharmacists Association (APhA) – Academy of Student Pharmacists (ASP) executive board. He was also a member of many student committees such as the International Pharmaceutical Students’ Federation where he was instrumental in developing Pacific as one of the strongest chapters in the nation having sent record numbers of US representatives to the organization’s annual international conferences.

“I have taken many of the skills learned and developed through ASP to work with our hospital administration in improving education for our trainees and looking at possibilities for expanding pharmacy services within the institution,” he said.

He is a member of Kappa Psi, American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP), California Society of Health-System Pharmacists (CSHP), and California Pharmacists Association (CPhA). He is also a mentor to many students and encourages them to tackle opportunities where they “are the most timid or apprehensive because it means they stand to learn and grow more from it.”

“This strategy continues to work for me as I am transitioning to a PGY-2 in critical care, a field that I once thought I would never pursue. Now I look forward to this opportunity with much excitement and a desire to become a strong clinician within this growing pharmacy specialty,” said Lawrence.

In the future, Lawrence hopes to practice as a clinical pharmacist in the Intensive Care Unit or Emergency Department.

By Dua Her '09
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