After the degree: PharmD grads begin postdoctoral residencies and fellowships

pharmgradAbove: Several members of the graduating class in FDU's School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences will be going on to complete post-doctoral work. (Photo by Bill Blanchard)

By Dan Landau

As Fairleigh Dickinson University’s School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences’ second class of doctoral students graduates with their Pharm.D. degrees, a large percentage of the new grads will be continuing their studies in prestigious post-graduate residencies and fellowships. Obtaining a residency or fellowship is a fiercely competitive process, with hundreds of applicants vying for each position.

“These pharmacy fellowships and residencies provide FDU students unique opportunities to engage first hand in pharmaceutical industry and institutional practice career settings,” says Barbara Rossi, assistant dean for experiential education. “Such environments afford students opportunities to utilize the five core tenets of our program (think, communicate , advocate , lead and implement) whereby impacting positive patient outcomes as well as strategic initiatives and programs within industrial arenas.”

A few of the graduates share their stories here about their upcoming fellowships and residencies.

angioneSara Angione, MHS’17, PharmD’17
Global regulatory affairs fellowship, GlaxoSmithKine and University of North Carolina

Originally from Ontario, Canada, Sara Angione traveled to New Jersey to pursue a Pharm.D. With that accomplished, her next step is a two-year global regulatory affairs fellowship with GlaxoSmithKine (GSK) and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC). The fellows in this program spend six months at UNC and 18 months in the Global Regulatory Affairs Department at GSK.

In this fellowship, Angione will gain experience in the pharmaceutical industry and build on what she learned in the Master of Health Science in regulatory sciences and Pharm.D. programs at FDU.

“Regulatory changes within a country can easily impact growth and drug development strategies for a global organization and I am excited about experiencing this firsthand at GSK,” she says. “I will be able to learn about the principles of regulatory agency review processes for not just the United States but also Canada, Europe, Asia Pacific, and other emerging markets.”


SiegelJesse Siegel, PharmD’17
Late-state oncology fellowship, Merck & Co. and Rutgers University

For Jesse Siegel, the choice of what to do after completing his Pharm.D. was clear: obtain a fellowship at a good company as the first step towards his goal of making a career in the pharmaceutical industry.

“I want to help millions of patients at one time instead of one patient at a time,” he says. “I want to make a global impact, especially with very sick cancer patients.”

In his fellowship, the Morristown, N.J. resident will teach as an adjunct professor at Rutgers University and serve as part of a clinical trial team, developing an oncology drug for Merck. “I will play a key role in operations, planning, executing the daily tasks of managing a clinical trial with the goal of brining a new drug to patients,” says Siegel.


montgomery pharmKathleen Montgomery, MS’17, PharmD’17
Oncology global medical affairs fellowship, Takeda Pharmaceuticals and MCPHS University

When Kathleen Montgomery came to FDU from Utah, she already knew a lot about the field, having worked as a pharmacy compounder, making personalized medications for patients.

In her new role, she will serve as a Medical Science Liason (MSL) with Takeda Pharmaceuticals.

“Medical Affairs is about communicating information with patients, care providers, and research scientists,” she says. “As an MSL, I’ll be the go-to person for information about a particular drug or disease state. It will be my job to stay current with ongoing research and to establish and maintain relationships with Key Opinion Leaders (leading physicians and academic institutions). I’ll also be responsible for answering questions about using drugs off-label.”

While the application process for fellowships tends to be quite competitive, Montgomery’s fellowship was even more so, since it is an accelerated fellowship, lasting one year instead of the usual two. Montgomery was the successful candidate, among a pool of hundreds.


laspadaRebecca LaSpada, PharmD’17
Residency, AtlantiCare Regional Medical Health Center

“I always want to learn more,” says Rebecca LaSpada. Now that the Stratford, N.J. native has achieved her doctorate, she’s moving on to a one-year residency at AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center in Atlantic City, N.J.

This will be familiar ground for her, having done several of her Introductory and Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experience clinical rotations at the hospital. In her residency, she will complete various rotations in areas such as critical care, ambulatory care, and NICU/pediatrics.

“I feel that doing a residency will give me the experience I need to become the clinical pharmacist I want to be. It is a completely different experience learning in the classroom versus real life experiences and situations. I got a taste of that on my APPE rotations but I know I will get the whole experience while completing my residency,” she says.

grifithJacqueline Griffith, MBA’17, PharmD’17
Residency, Henrico Doctors’ Hospital-HCA Virginia

One of several dual-degree earners in the Class of 2017, Jacqueline Griffith will head off to Richmond, VA to do a one-year residency at the Henrico Doctors’ Hospital with both an MBA and a Pharm.D. from FDU.

Still looking to learn more, she says, “My interest in a residency program is motivated by my desire to further my clinical knowledge, expand my understanding of pharmacy administration, and engage in teaching opportunities.”

In her residency, she will do a number of five-week rotations in different areas, such as medication usage evaluations, patient case presentations, and drug monographs.

vallejoMegan Vallejo, PharmD’17
Residency, Florida Hospital East Orlando

“There’s an old proverb, ‘Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime,’” says Megan Vallejo. “In my Pharm.D. coursework, I feel I have been given the tools to be successful, but I want at least one more year to be ‘taught how to fish.’ The more training and experience I have, the better I can serve my community.”

To that end, Vallejo is heading off to sunny Florida to complete a one-year residency at Florida Hospital East Orlando.

“My residency will focus on internal medicine, critical care, and ambulatory care to give me a wide range of experiences,” she says.

hamzaHamza ElHaouati, PharmD’17
Residency, Community Medical Center

Originally hailing from Casablanca, Morocco, Hamza ElHaouati decided to continue his pharmacy training with a one-year residency to gain experience in managing medication use within a health system and optimizing medication therapy for patients with a range of disease states.

“Many of my role models have been preceptors [instructors] and my goal after post-graduate training is to return to my home country and practice pharmacy as a clinical pharmacist in an academic health system,” he says.

Part of ElHaouati’s residency includes earning a teaching certificate, in addition to completing rotations in different areas of hospital pharmacy, including critical care, emergency medicine, and drug information.

szmucPatricia Szmuc, PharmD’17
Residency, Boston Medical Center

“During pharmacy school, I enjoyed my pharmacotherapeutics courses,” says Patricia Szmuc. “These course focus on creating individualized treatment plans for patients. I got to see what a clinical pharmacist does and how they impact patient care and I realized I wanted to do the same thing, to help people the same way.”

The Wayne, N.J. resident will be heading to Boston for a one-year residency that will prepare her for a career as a clinical pharmacist.

“My residency will consist of various components such as participating in an overnight on-call program which involves responding to patient emergencies (cardiac arrest) and practicing clinical pharmacy in different areas, including internal medicine and critical care,” says Szmuc.

kinnariKinnari Rana, PharmD’17
Managed care residency, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey

It was during one of her Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experience classes — five-week clinical rotations that all the pharmacy students take — that Kinnari Rana discovered that she enjoyed working as a clinical pharmacist.

“I had a rotation at the Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey at West Trenton and I really liked the idea of working as a pharmacist in an insurance company and using my clinical knowledge,” she says. So, she applied for the residency they offered.

In her residency, Rana will work with physicians “and discuss what new drugs are coming to market and help them prescribe the most effective therapy for patients.”