by Stephen Vodhanel, PhD
School of Pharmacy PY3 student Sarah Faheem will be spending her summer at the Veterans Administration (VA) Loma Linda Healthcare System gaining much valuable clinical pharmacy experience.
The purpose of VALOR is to provide clinical and classroom experience in various pharmacy clinical settings including inpatient/outpatient, medicine, geriatric, mental health, and primary care.
Rashid Mosavin, PhD, MBA, executive associate dean at Loma Linda University School of Pharmacy, says, “We’re excited to have Sarah participate in the VALOR program. She is a strong student leader and will represent the school well. The knowledge Sarah gains this summer will broaden her pharmacy practice and provide valuable experience in the future should she be interested in a post-graduate residency."
According to the VA Loma Linda Healthcare System, the VALOR summer internship residency program is a unique summer internship program for pharmacy students who have completed their second professional year with a minimum GPA of 3.0 in an accredited Pharm.D. program. There are structured, competency-based clinical experiences, didactic course work, and pharmacy-focused patient care under the direction of clinical pharmacists.
Eligibility criteria into the VALOR program are intense. This includes a minimum grade point average, nomination of the student to the program by the Dean of the School of Pharmacy, an essay indicating career goals and objectives for seeking the VALOR summer internship, and an anticipated graduation within two years after entry into the VALOR program.
For Sarah, participating in the VALOR program came from wanting to work with veterans. “I have always wanted to work at the VA hospital because it serves an honorary population of patients. The work is solely focused on veterans. And I have been surprised that this population ranges from 18 to over 100 years of age,” said Sarah.
But the VALOR program comes with some surprises. “It is honestly a lot more than I expected. I thought the experience was going to entail outpatient and inpatient aspects, but I quickly realized that it is a lot more clinical. The VALOR program has provided me with situations that I thought I never could handle, but the training is really great and well supervised. I have gained a lot of confidence in what I can do as a pharmacist,” said Sarah.
Reflecting upon her first two years in pharmacy school, Sarah realizes how much is actually important. “Honestly, everything we learned in the first two years is a vital part of what I do now. Every disease state I handle with patients brings flashbacks of things I learned in the classroom. ” said Sarah.
“Also, as students we were very well trained in seeking information from patients and counseling them. The training we received in and out of class has helped my confidence in interviewing patients, extracting information from them, and most importantly connecting with patients on a personal level to create a two-way trustworthy relationship,” said Sarah.
The VALOR program also can develop career paths for students. “My future plan is to do a PGY1 residency at the Loma Linda VA to start my career as an ambulatory care pharmacist in the Loma Linda VA. Being part of the VALOR program is a great opportunity, and the experience is helping me pursue a great future career,” said Sarah.
The entire School of Pharmacy is very proud of Sarah Faheem.