Health Careers in Alaska

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Pharmacist

Cindy Audet

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The person…

Cindy Audet, a pharmacist with the Bartlett Regional Hospital in Juneau for the past 25 years, likes the fact that her profession has given her a flexible career where she can be financially independent. She found her way to Juneau through an internship while in pharmacy school in Oregon. Born in Minnesota and raised in Lakewood, California, Cindy started working on a Bachelor of Science degree at Humboldt State in California before deciding to go into pharmacy school. After graduating from Oregon State University in Corvallis, Oregon, she decided to return to Juneau to work as a pharmacist. Cindy says, “I didn’t really plan to stay in Juneau for very long, but I’m still here after 25 years!”

Cindy lives in Juneau with her husband, Dave, and 10 year old daughter, Adrienne. She enjoys an active lifestyle. Cindy especially likes the coastal activities that are available in Juneau such as boating and fishing. She also enjoys hiking and skiing in the mountains and swimming at the local pool.

The job…

Cindy works with four other pharmacists at Bartlett Regional Hospital. Working as a pharmacist in the hospital, she says she dispenses medications to many different patient care areas including acute care, same day surgery, chemotherapy, and the emergency room.  The pharmacists triage orders as they come in, dealing with the most urgent needs first. They answer any questions for those who are ordering or administering medications and sometimes have to do their own compounding if the hospital’s stock medications do not meet the needs of their patients. (Note: compounding refers to the weighing, mixing and measuring of drugs to prepare dosages in specific forms, strengths or diluents.) Cindy also oversees preparation of medications for the hours the pharmacy will be closed at night.

Cindy says they have two pharmacy shifts at the hospital. The day shift is from 7:00 am until 5:30 pm and evenings from 12:30 pm until 11:00 pm. Bartlett’s pharmacy is open seven days a week so the pharmacists rotate working evening and weekend shifts. Currently Cindy works three 10 hour shifts a week. This schedule enables her to maximize her family and leisure time.

When asked what she liked most about her job, Cindy says even after 25 years she still learns something new every day. “There are always problems to be solved and new products to learn about. I also like that pharmacy is a unique field. What we learn in school isn’t known by a lot of people, so that knowledge is valuable to others. I like knowing that I’m doing important work.”

Cindy also notes that when going into the pharmacy field you have the opportunity to go into specialties such as critical care, chemotherapy, IV nutrition, and even nuclear pharmacy. “One of the benefits of being a pharmacist is that it gives you flexibility to work in many different communities and settings, and there is a real need for pharmacists in Alaska.”

When asked what Cindy finds challenging about her job, she noted that regulations can be hard to comply with in a practical way. She and the other pharmacists are committed to following the regulations, since they are there to protect the public, but sometimes the process can be complex. “We do everything we can to guarantee the usage of the medication is going to be safe and effective for our patients, but sometimes you get patients who don’t take care of themselves or are not able to effectively manage their medication regimens.”  Cindy also said sometimes it can be hard to know when to question an approach that is being taken by a physician. “Though we don’t diagnose patients, we do help with the choice of drugs.” Within this process, Cindy says she and the other pharmacists always need to be thinking about the resources, the costs and benefit/risk profiles. They also are constantly evaluating the literature on medication usage.

One of the unique and challenging features of working in a smaller community such as Juneau, Cindy notes, is that they don’t always have the resources to upgrade their equipment. In order to take continuing education courses, Cindy must also travel outside of Juneau or do courses on-line.  Smaller communities in Alaska also have a difficult time recruiting and retaining pharmacists in Alaska, which effects workload and working conditions.

Advice to students…

Cindy encourages those who are interested in pharmacy to get a job as a pharmacy technician. “This is the best way to find out if the profession is a good fit for you.” Cindy says she and the other pharmacists oversee five pharmacy technicians at Bartlett Hospital. Pharmacy technicians help dispense medications, take care of billing, and also make sure there are enough supplies in stock by reordering when necessary. Cindy notes that with the shortage of pharmacists in Alaska, there is a real need for pharmacy technicians and so there are many opportunities to obtain a job as a pharmacy technician.

This page was last updated by Janice Troyer on January 03, 2008

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