"This program will be invaluable to your professional growth and careers, it has the elements to give you all of the knowledge and skills needed to be successful."
Why did you develop an interest in Clinical Toxicology? Do you have a favorite aspect of the field?
During the early days of the U.S’s Opioid epidemic, I worked as clinical scientist analyzing routine drug testing data to evaluate compliance to therapy. At that time, most of our patients were recovering from illicit drug use and were prescribed a safer alternative to help address side effects associated with withdraw. Others were abusers of prescription drugs. I have always loved chemistry, but I found drug-induced toxicity and poisoned patients to be truly fascinated. Hence, I wanted to learn more about factors that may influence drug-induced toxicity and how to effectively manage these cases in a clinical setting.
Why did you choose UF’s Clinical Toxicology Online Graduate Program?
I applied to UF’s Clinical Toxicology program because it was not only afforded, but I was able to work as a full-time clinical scientist while raising a son and continue my education. The flexibility in the course schedules, the learning objectives and case studies were extremely attractive and influenced by decision to enroll as a graduate student. Initially, I earned a certificate in Clinical Toxicology and eventually a Master in Pharmacy with emphasis in Pharmaceutical Sciences
What was your favorite part of the program?
It was extremely easy to navigate reading module notes, engaging in discussion boards and working on assignments, quizzes and case of term. I was able to develop my self-paced schedule to complete all course requirements in a timely manner. Dr. Grudmann and others were extremely helpful in providing feedback on assignments and engaging students in an interactive way despite the online setting.
What surprised you most about the program?
The case studies on poisoned patients were surprisingly relevant to my work and had scenarios similar to what we faced in our clinical setting. These studies helped me understand how to address these situations at work. I was also surprised of the diversity among students. Some had clinical while others had non-clinical backgrounds. They brought invaluable life and work experiences. The faculty members were seasoned pharmaceutical and toxicology experts and were well respected in their various fields.
How are you using your degree or how are you hoping to use your degree?
As an experienced researcher-global health expert, I am working to improve health outcomes for marginalized populations. I am an epidemiologist with 14 years of experience in research design, surveillance of HIV and infectious diseases and management of health data systems to inform clinical decisions and health policies. Currently, I am managing routine data systems including working with aggregate data including toxicology results from state and country’s health and information systems for disease surveillance, prevention, and treatment. Additionally, much of my career has been dedicated to the utilization of data systems to inform best practices for disease prevention, testing, and treatment for health conditions relating to substance misuse, HIV, and other infectious diseases.
I also work as an Adjunct Faculty. I am responsible grading submissions and providing feedback on courses to help students acquire knowledge about clinical toxicology and pharmaceutical sciences.
Has the program helped you in your current job or day-to-day activities?
The program helped in understand intrinsic and extrinsic factors that may influence health outcomes. After completion of this program, I earned a doctorate in public health with an emphasis in epidemiology because I wanted to address these social determinants of health. This program taught me to be compassionate when working with marginalized populations. I have learned to separate persons(e.g. drug addicts, poisoned patients, etc.) from the disease conditions and work to provide holistic solutions in address public health crisis.
What was/is your takeaway of the online learning format?
I cherished the flexibility in working and continuing my education while raising my child. This platform provided me with the space to successfully acquire skills and knowledge that have helped me professionally. However, it was important to manage my time to get all of the course requirements completed. I did this by blocking off hours after work and when my son was in bed to read course modules, assigned readings and subsequently complete all assignments and tests.
Any advice for future / incoming students?
This program will be invaluable to your professional growth and careers, it has the elements to give you all of the knowledge and skills needed to be successful. The professors are experts who are respected in their fields. However, you must be organized, set goals and work towards completing them. Time management will be extremely important to successfully navigate work, this program and your family. Hence, I will recommend that you set few hours weekly to concentrate on getting done your assignments. Reach out to the professors when you need help, they are all wonderful in helping students understand concepts, expectations and will work with you to ensure that you achieve your goals for this program.