20 Questions: Jennifer A. Reinhold, PharmD, BCPS
Created 09.23.12 by Juliet Farmer
Jennifer A. Reinhold, PharmD, BCPS, is currently assistant professor of clinical pharmacy in the Department of Pharmacy Practice/Pharmacy Administration at University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, as well as a clinical pharmacist for Quality Family Physicians in Hockessin, DE. She also serves as a pharmacist for Rite Aid Corporation in Reading, PA, and the surrounding areas. Dr. Reinhold has taught and lectured on numerous topics, including pharmacotherapeutics, non-prescription therapeutics, coagulation disorders, and professional pharmacy practice.
Dr. Reinhold earned her bachelor’s degree in sociology and political science (double major) with a minor in anthropology from Albright College in Reading, PA. She went on to attend University of the Sciences’ College of Pharmacy, where she graduated with a Doctor of Pharmacy Cum laude. She then served a pharmacy practice residency at Happy Harry’s A Walgreens Pharmacy in Wilmington, DE. In 2009, she became a Board Certified Pharmacotherapy Specialist (BCPS). Her professional memberships include American Society of Health System Pharmacists, Pennsylvania Pharmacists’ Association, American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy, American Pharmacists’ Association, and Berks County Pharmacists’ Association. She has been published in the International Journal of Clinical Practice, American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, America’s Pharmacist, and Psychiatric Times.
When did you first decide to become a pharmacist? Why?
I worked in a pharmacy just as a part-time job while in was in undergrad pursuing a totally unrelated degree. I worked at the pharmacy on nights and weekends and ended up really enjoying it. Aside from the science of pharmacy (which I had always been interested in – science in general), I think the most significant experiences I had involved the patients and the pharmacists with whom I worked. I will never forget the first time that I felt that I made a difference with a patient and from that moment on I considered changing career aspirations. I was fortunate to work with some very talented pharmacists and it was my observation of them that further drove my decision. My greatest achievement was to be just like them and it was through their encouragement that I moved in that direction after undergrad. As I progressed through my pharmacy education, more experiences and people helped to influence my decision to pursue academia in pharmacy which is where I ultimately ended up.
How/why did you choose the school you went to?
I had numerous friends who had attended Philadelphia College of Pharmacy (PCP) over the decades prior to my school search and they all spoke so highly of it. When it was time to make the decision regarding application, I visited only a few campuses. PCP struck me as home – it was very much like my undergrad campus and it was like a green oasis in the landscape of west Philly. Above all, I visited the campus with one of my great friends who was an alum and the professors remembered her. As we walked through the campus people said “hello” and interacted with us so positively that I had made my decision by the time I left.
What surprised you the most about pharmacy school?
I was surprised that it is much different than a traditional college experience in that true clinical pharmacy education is far more application than it is memorization. High school and some undergrad programs (depending on major obviously) can be successfully completed by being a good memorizer. Pharmacy school and other medical careers begin with a memorized database but the foundation is the ability to apply it.
If you had it to do all over again, would you still become a pharmacist? Why or why not? What would you have done instead?
I would do it again. Pharmacy has been very good to me – not only back when I was a student but now. I have some amazing opportunities in my daily life – interacting with students and other faculty, attending national meetings and networking with others, working directly with patients and physicians at my practice site, and continuing to be involved in scholarly activity (writing papers, doing research, presenting posters).
What was it like finding a job in your chosen career field? What were your options and why did you decide what you did?
Pharmacists were still very much in demand when I graduated and pharmacy faculty were even more in demand. I did a residency after graduating because I wanted to expand my options. Typically, the more sought-after positions in pharmacy (clinical positions, faculty appointments) are attainable only with additional post-doctoral training so I decided to go that route.
Has being a pharmacist met your expectations? Why?
Yes. I had a decent expectation of what being a pharmacist was since I’d been exposed to numerous types throughout my educational career. I have the ability to see patients, teach classes, mentor students, and continue to work on scholarly activity so it is very rewarding and meets my expectations.
What do you like most about being a pharmacist?
I like having answers. It’s rewarding to be able to assist others. That’s what heath care practitioners do, help people. But beyond that, there is a true reward when someone asks for help or advice and you, as the expert, are able to give them an answer and potentially change their education on a subject or change the course of treatment for an illness.
What do you like least about being a pharmacist?
The thing I like least is how pharmacists are perceived broadly by the public. Over time, pharmacists have become confused with store clerks and out in a community setting I think they are undervalued by the general public. In ambulatory care (physician offices or clinics) and in-patient settings, pharmacists are well-respected and are accepted as part of the medical team. Outside of those settings, however, our role is still very nebulous. There is great potential for expanding our clinical role in community settings, but we face significant barriers in accomplishing this. However, in certain states, pharmacists are being legally recognized as healthcare providers and this is a great step towards redefining the image of the pharmacist as an actual provider and clinician.
Describe a typical day at work.
My usual day is spent at the college where I am faculty. I am either lecturing in a course or managing a course that I am coordinating. I meet with students that are enrolled in those courses or students that are on their clinical rotation with me. I have meetings with other faculty members with whom I am working on research or other projects. It’s relatively autonomous, which is a great aspect. On a clinic day, I spend the day at a physicians’ office seeing patients. It is a collaborative practice, so the physicians and I work together with the patient for a variety of reasons – patients with diabetes, hypertension, dyslipidemia, respiratory issues, psychiatric issues, etc.
How many hours a week do you work? How many hours do you sleep per night? How many weeks of vacation do you take?
On average, my work week (Monday through Friday) is anywhere from 40 to 60 hours depending on what happens to be going on that week. Occasionally I pick up shifts at a community pharmacy on weekends, so if we include those days then my total hours per week worked could be as high as 80 or 90, though this is only sporadic. I take vacation usually two weeks per year (one week at a time), but I often have the occasion and the ability to take a day here and there for business or non-business reasons.
Are you satisfied with your income?
I think most people would love to earn more than they do. But I think my salary decently corresponds to the amount of work I do.
If you took out educational loans, is/was paying them back a financial strain?
Yes it is. Oddly enough, having a bachelor’s degree hurt me when it came time for loans for the doctorate. I ended up taking out extraordinary loans for my graduate training and it is actually a financial strain (at least for the next 25 years).
In your position now, knowing what you do – what would you say to yourself 10 years ago? I really wouldn’t have changed anything I did in terms of education. Halfway through pharmacy school, I had started wishing that I had not done undergrad first and had just gone into the six-year doctorate instead of adding it to my completed four years. However, as I progressed and now that I am faculty, I can truly appreciate the value of the liberal arts background that I have. I think it made me a more well-rounded person, a better practitioner, and a better teacher.
What information/advice do you wish you had known when you were pre pharmacy school?
I wish someone had mentored me with regard to student loans and how to be a little smarter with handling them.
From your perspective, what is the biggest problem in healthcare today?
Lack of patient education and accountability. Drugs are wonderful things – they do what we want them to. However, drugs are not always the best answer. Prevention of one’s own illnesses (when possible) is an important consideration. Better access to health literature and more investment in one’s own health will surely yield better outcomes.
Where do you see pharmacy in 10 years?
I see clinical pharmacy expanding and traditional community pharmacy contracting. Some of the dispensing-type activities related to community pharmacy will likely be replaced by automation, while the clinical or the cognitive portions will increase. Pharmacists will eventually be considered health care providers in the legal sense and also by insurers and this will change reimbursement and practice.
What types of outreach/volunteer work do you do, if any?
The majority of volunteer work I do is in concert with student organizations here on campus. I am the faculty advisor for an organization and I am able to help with planning and implementing community outreach here in West Philadelphia.
How do you spend your free time? Any hobbies?
I like to kayak, go to the theater, and try new restaurants.
Do you have any family, and if so, do you have enough time to spend with them? How do you balance work and life?
This was one of the most critical concepts we were taught as young faculty. There has to be a work-life balance or you will not be happy. Sometimes it’s tough to force yourself to make time for fun but it is absolutely essential. I think I have done this decently well. My job is varied enough that I never feel constrained. I have campus days and clinic days and I write for a magazine so I have New York City days – so it’s actually pretty hard to get bored. Even with all the activity and moving around, I still have time to take care of the house, spend time with people I care about, and relax when I need to.
Do you have any final piece of advice for students interested in pursuing pharmacy as a career?
Do it but do it for the right reason. What I don’t like to hear from students is “I want to be a pharmacist because of the salary,” or “I like medicine but I didn’t want to spend eight years in med school.” Being a pharmacist is a privilege and a responsibility. It’s a tremendously rewarding field, but in order to be effective at what you do and to be truly happy, you have to want to do this.