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3/9/2001

Taking Action Can Ease Job Disappointments

Kate Traynor

Soon after joining the clinical staff of a community hospital, Keri M. Justice, Pharm.D., found that the position offered fewer opportunities in her specialty than she had anticipated. But instead of quitting or dwelling on her disappointment, Justice found a way to turn the job into a rewarding experience.

When she accepted the job at Brandon Regional Hospital in Florida, Justice planned on providing pharmaceutical care to patients in the coronary care and medical and surgical intensive care units. This would match well with the pharmacy practice residency she was completing at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical center in Bay Pines, Fla. But in addition to these duties, Justice learned after starting at the hospital that she was responsible every other weekend for pharmaceutical care in the labor and delivery and neonatal intensive care units.

"I was from the VA and knew nothing about women and children," Justice recalls.

But the biggest surprise in Justice’s daily routine was responsibility for drug-therapy services at two 40-bed step-down units. These telemetry units supported about 100 patients a day when the hospital was fully occupied.

After spending what she describes as "several months…plugging my way along with interventions," Justice decided to try to improve her situation. Her solution? She asked to have a pharmacy technician assigned to her satellite pharmacy.

"The idea was well received," Justice says. When the technician came aboard, Justice found that the scope of her work changed for the better. She spent more time making drug interventions, working on projects for the pharmacy and therapeutics committee, participating in advanced cardiac life support as part of the "code blue" team, and monitoring for adverse drug reactions.

"The best part of my job—which I never would have guessed," Justice says, "was that I was responsible for all levels of critical care pharmaceutical care, from order entry and distribution—including making i.v.'s [intravenous admixtures]—to kinetics, antibiotic surveillance, and committee work."

Justice has since moved to a new position as an assistant professor of pharmacy practice at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and a practice at the Manatee VA Primary Care Clinic in Ellenton. But she has good memories of her experience at Brandon.

"I learned a great deal from ‘making lemonade’ from a not-what-I-imagined assignment," Justice says. In the end, that job "was just what I wanted and needed."