Ashlee Gerfen, PharmD 2012, has not been letting the grass grow under her feet since graduating from the University of Arizona College of Pharmacy. She was accepted for a highly competitive residency at the University of Arizona Medical Center-University Campus immediately following graduation, and now is at the beginning of a second residency.
Gerfen worked in a retail setting as an intern at CVS Pharmacy while attending UA COP. Although she enjoyed the experience, and was offered a job as a retail pharmacist there, she knew that she wanted to work in a hospital setting. So Gerfen was thrilled to find that she was one of only seven applicants selected for her Postgraduate Year One (PGY1) residency program. The pay was considerably less than she would have received as a retail pharmacist, but Gerfen knew that the temporary reduction in income was worth it to pursue the area she wants to work in.
“I gain more experience in clinical pharmacy, and I’m not just filling prescriptions. I am able to interact with doctors, nurses and patients in this setting,” says Gerfen.
During her PGY1 residency, Gerfen was able to take many elective rotations along with the required ones. She found herself drawn to medical and surgical intensive care units and emergency medication rotations, and was working with organ transplant patients. Gerfen believes that having pharmacists present in the hospital venue frees doctors and nurses to do their work and prevents medication errors.
Gerfen’s PGY2 residency in critical care started on July 1 at the same hospital. She is doing the same type of patient-care activities, such as attending rounds with medical teams and making medication-related interventions. This year, however, her entire focus will be in critical care. She rotates each month through the different intensive care units (ICUs). These include the medical ICU floor, the emergency department, and surgical, trauma, pediatric and cardiovascular ICUs. By doing rotations in all of the critical care settings, Gerfen will gain the experience she needs to become specialized in this area.
Gerfen has been active at UA for a long time. She was a cheerleader during her undergraduate studies, and during her time at the COP volunteered to coach cheerleading. She has stayed involved with the university since graduating. In fact, Gerfen was nominated to be the COP representative on the UA Alumni Association Wildcat for Life Leadership Council. She began her new duties on the council in July.
"I am truly thrilled that the College of Pharmacy thought of me when considering a COP Alumni Association representative. After completing undergraduate, graduate and 1st year residency at this institution, I think it is safe to say that I bleed red and blue! I am excited to continue my second year residency at the University of Arizona Medical Center and hope to stay associated with the university throughout my career," says Gerfen about her new position on the council.
Gerfen loves working at UAMC and hopes to find a permanent position there. She sums up her feelings about postgraduate life in a very positive way:
"Life after graduation from the College of Pharmacy has been everything I've wanted as a brand-new clinical pharmacist. Seeing patients on a daily basis in a variety of different settings has solidified the education and skills I learned during pharmacy school. Every day is a new experience filled with a myriad of learning opportunities. Even as a new healthcare professional, I feel that my interventions are well supported and encouraged daily by my medical team. This residency has been a wonderful growing experience and I am excited to continue on the path with a PGY2 in critical care!"
Story by Rebecca Wingate