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Ryan Starr, PharmD Candidate 2017
President, CPNP Student Chapter at University of Maryland School of Pharmacy

Every individual living with a psychiatric or neurologic disorder should be offered care by a team that includes a psychiatric pharmacist to optimize their medication therapy. CPNP’s student chapter at University of Maryland School of Pharmacy in Baltimore, Maryland is committed to empowering each student member to work towards making this CPNP vision a reality.

Our student chapter was the 3rd created amongst pharmacy schools during its early expansion more than five years ago and membership has continued to grow significantly. Currently, CPNP students at the University of Maryland are advised by Dr. Raymond Love, PharmD, BCPP, FASHP and Dr. Susan dosReis, BSPharm, Ph.D. Our CPNP mentors have contributed their time and expertise to provide students constructive feedback on short topic presentations given during our general body meetings. Having Dr. dosReis and Dr. Love attend our meetings has helped grow our chapter by inviting students to improve their skills in public speaking, literature analysis, and understanding of pharmacological principles. Our mentors demonstrate passion for improving psychiatric/neurologic practice while simultaneously providing their expert advice for scholastic improvement. This balance between clinical expertise and approachability when mentoring our CPNP student members has led many members to pursue a career in psychiatric/neurologic pharmacy. 

Our student chapter members gain valuable experience in psychiatric pharmacy serving the community by providing medication counseling, disease state education, and receiving overdose response training (many of the CPNP members were the first to receive naloxone administration certification at the School of Pharmacy in 2015). Partnering with organizations such as the National Parkinson’s Foundation, Alzheimer’s Association, and NAMI, our students demonstrate their commitment towards helping community members with psychiatric and neurologic conditions. Volunteering in our community to help improve the access to care for psychiatric and neurologic medications (such as naloxone), our pharmacy students recognize the necessity for mental health professionals in Baltimore. Thus, students are motivated to pursue residency training to maximize their efficiency and skillset to become psychiatric pharmacists. 

Elective courses such as “Perspectives of Mental Health,” taught by Dr. Bethany DiPaula, PharmD, BCPP and Dr. Jason Noel, PharmD, BCPP have sparked interest in the fields of psychiatry and neurology for our members. Students have voiced interest in pursuing residency training during classroom discussions and in reflective papers after completing the opportunities in the course presented by Dr. DiPaula and Dr. Noel. Some experiences gained from the course include the opportunity to shadow clinical psychiatric pharmacists and enjoy guest lecturers who practice in a variety of settings relevant to the field (law, hospital, prison, and academia). The increased understanding of the variety of career choices is another factor which increases the likelihood Maryland students choose to pursue residency training. This course has increased CPNP membership as well, as more third year students became encouraged to pursue PGY-2 training after receiving personalized feedback from their preceptors regarding observations on the students’ performance. The benefit of elective coursework in psychiatry and neurology in preparation for future practice is of paramount importance. Therefore the University of Maryland’s student chapter of CPNP recommends creation of similar elective experiences at other institutions as well.

Applicants select residency programs for a number of reasons. Maryland students have voiced interest in selecting a PGY-1 program that can emphasize psychiatric and neurologic pharmacy in preparation for a PGY-2 at the same site. Location is a significant consideration when applying to psychiatric residency programs for Maryland students. In addition, many of our students have voiced a desire to learn specifically from clinicians who are CPNP members and be able to work closely with the director of the psychiatric/neurologic residency program. Availability to contribute to the clinical interventions chosen by an interprofessional medical team is important to our students as well. Additional training with interprofessional teams specifically in psychiatry is an area that we believe will influence our selection for residency programs in the future.

Overall, many factors/experiences can contribute to help increase student interest in specialized psychiatric pharmacy training. Having a CPNP student chapter and mentorship by CPNP members, community involvement through the CPNP student chapter, and elective courses such as Perspectives of Mental health are some key factors which have contributed to all the student leaders of our CPNP student chapter having a shared career goal of seeking residency training in Psychiatric Pharmacy.

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