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Q&A: Professional Development Advice

Written by: Christina Doligalski, Pharm.D., FCCP, FAST, BCPS, CPP
Published on: Oct 3, 2022

What advice can you share for a successful clinical pharmacy career?

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Please provide a brief overview of your clinical pharmacy career path.

I grew up in a household where my mom was a hospital-based pharmacist, so I always knew I wanted to do a residency and be a clinical pharmacist. I went into my PGY1 year of residency determined to early commit in critical care. Unfortunately, I did not match into that program. Luckily, I had a transplant rotation in October of my PGY1, and I fell in love with it, so I decided to do a PGY2 in solid organ transplant. After residency, I moved with my husband to Tampa, Florida, where I practiced as a heart transplant and LVAD pharmacist. Now we’ve moved back to North Carolina to be closer to home, and I practice exclusively in the ambulatory care setting, seeing heart transplant, lung transplant, and LVAD recipients under a collaborative practice agreement.

How has your involvement with ACCP affected your career?

I first became a member of ACCP through a student chapter. I was involved as a student and resident, but my involvement skyrocketed at the end of my PGY2 year. Having moved to Tampa for my family, I was initially without a job and was worried I wouldn’t be able to get a job in the specialty I had trained in. I had just joined the Immunology/Transplantation PRN at that time, where people provided a lot of mentorship and helped me brainstorm ways to stay involved as an early career member. I was eventually able to chair the PRN and had the opportunity to mentor other people.

What did you learn on your path to becoming a Fellow of ACCP?

I was in my chair role in the Immunology/Transplantation PRN when I hit the 10-year career mark and became eligible to apply to be a Fellow. When I self-scored the first time, I saw a lot of deficiencies and got discouraged. There were things that I felt like I had less opportunity to accomplish because I was not a faculty member at a school of pharmacy. After speaking with our board liaison and other full-time practitioners who became Fellows, I learned that things like being an RPD and having residents who take your best practices to other institutions are hugely successful and something you can put in the application. Clinical practices that have not been published but that have good internal data for improving patient care are also worthy of putting in the application. There are many creative ways of demonstrating the value you’ve brought to clinical pharmacy beyond grants and publications.

What advice do you have for postgrads to prevent burnout?

Set a goal list every year. Lots of opportunities will be offered to you early in your career. Having a goal list will help you stay focused and decide when to say no. Don’t get sidetracked from the things you really want to do. Next, give yourself some breathing room. During residency, you have so many experiences condensed into a short time. Now, you don’t have to do a research project at the same time as an MUE, so it’s a mind reset from residency. Finally, know what you’re going to do, the duration of it, and the impact you’re going to have. When I started my first post-residency job in Tampa, I had just gotten married, and both my husband and I wanted to focus on our careers for the next 5 years. I was able to give 100% to my job, and it really helped jump-start my career. It’s important to live life in stages and know when it’s time to move on to the next thing.


Christina Doligalski, Pharm.D., FCCP, FAST, BCPS, CPP

Clinical Pharmacist Practitioner

University of North Carolina Health Care

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