Avani Shukla, MS, CCRP, EMT
What is your background?
My background is in EMS (Emergency Medical Services). It’s my first and last love. I started off as an EMT as an undergraduate student at Loyola University Chicago EMS as a non-transport, golf-cart driving, EMS responder. We would frequently be called to assess patients on campus for various different complaints. However, most of them were for alcohol and drug use. I always felt limited in my scope of practice and knowledge. I even attempted to take a pharmacology class, but it was at maximum capacity for enrollment. During the summer after graduation, I took a class on general pharmacology at the local community college. Upon conversing with the professor and my interest, she suggested I take a look at the UF Clinical Toxicology program. I did and was absolutely fascinated by the topic and decided to continue on as a Graduate Certificate student, and eventually, as a Master’s student.
Why did you choose the online Clinical Toxicology program?
First, I took Intro to Clinical Toxicology to see if this was really something of interest to me. It was great that it was online because that meant I could continue to be home and continue to work at my two positions, Clinical Research Coordinator and Patient Care Technician Emergency Medicine, while being able to learn about a fascinating area. I also choose this program because of how unique it is both in topic and structure.
What surprised you the most about the program?
I was surprised by the demographics and academic background that each and every student had to offer. The experiences and knowledge shared were instrumental in my learning. Also, I was surprised by the amount of case-based learning that was involved; it really helped me understand the material better since it was being applied in a real-life situation. Another great surprise was that it consisted of international faculty with a vast array of experiences.
What was your favorite part of the online learning experience?
My favorite part was that I was able to study and educate myself at my own pace and own time.
What has been the most useful takeaway that you have applied to your day-to-day responsibilities?
The most useful takeaway has been self-discipline and time-management. The program really thought me the meaning and the power of self-discipline and time-management which I apply every day to be successful at my current jobs.
How has this degree affected your current work?
I am continuously using my degree at all three of my positions:
As a Clinical Research Coordinator, I am currently working on a study that is looking at the effects of chemotherapy drugs that is known to cause cardiotoxicity on patients who have an infection and need drugs to help maintain their heart rate.
As a Patient Care Technician, whenever we get a patient that has accidentally or intentionally overdosed, I promptly perform an electrocardiogram test as it was engraved in me during the program as the drug can cause cardiac changes.
As an Adjunct Faculty, I am responsible for teaching practical skills. During those skill sessions, I provide further knowledge to the students about a specific drug to help them understand why they are seeing the changes in the patient. For example, I provide the background knowledge for the use of epinephrine for an allergic reaction and why a patient starts to feel better after administration of epinephrine and the potential side effects that you may see after administration.