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It's a Rewarding Career

Published on 16 January 2019

While growing up, Matt Thomas, Pharm.D., had always dreamed of helping others. After shadowing a pharmacist at the local hospital in his small town of Outlook, Washington, he was determined to turn his dreams into reality.

After graduating with his Doctor of Pharmacy from Oregon State University and completing a PGY1 pharmacy practice residency in Portland, Oregon, Thomas chose to pursue a PGY2 ambulatory care residency at the St. Louis County Department of Public Health through St. Louis College of Pharmacy’s residency program.

The benefits of pursing a pharmacy residency include access to specialized education, real-world collaboration with interprofessional health care teams and once-in-a-lifetime patient interactions. Residencies not only set the foundation for leadership in patient care, but they also allow residents to serve medically underserved patient populations. These benefits paired with his passion for helping others inspired Thomas to move to St. Louis to pursue a position at the Department of Public Health.

“I chose my residency because I wanted to serve a high-needs population and also gain experience in academia,” he said. “Every day I’m able to counsel low-income patients and help them achieve their health goals while also helping educate the next generation of pharmacists.”

Although every day is different, Thomas typically assists patients with managing their diabetes or hypertension, or works with them to overcome tobacco addiction.

“I get to spend more time with my patients because I work in a clinical pharmacy,” he said. “In one instance, I was able to meet with a patient who was not able to afford her prescriptions for several months. I assisted her with acquiring free nicotine replacement therapy while she waited for insurance coverage.”

One week later, Thomas received a note from the patient he had assisted. The patient explained how his assistance reduced her anxiety during a very stressful time in her life.

“Hearing how I made an impact on this patient felt extremely rewarding,” he said. “Moments like these make the challenges worth it.”

Thomas is also responsible for ordering labs, writing prescriptions, following up with patients and precepting student pharmacists. As a preceptor, Thomas asks student pharmacists questions, conducts their evaluations and gives feedback to test their knowledge.

He added, “It is one thing to learn how to effectively care for your own panel of patients, but learning how to lead students to work independently can be challenging. However, when students tell me I have made a positive impact on them, I’m inspired to be the best preceptor and pharmacist I can be.”

To learn more about the College's residency programs, visit stlcop.edu/residency.

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