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Seasoned CU Pharmacy Alumna Goes Beyond Dispensing Medications, Making a Meaningful Impact on Patients

Class of 2014 alumna reflects on the past ten years of her Pharmacy experience

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Written by Jaron Bryant on March 4, 2024

For 10 years in her role at a specialized pharmacy focusing on Oncology, Dr. Kris O’Malley, PharmD ’14, has actively engaged in assisting patients with the management of oral medications.  The scope of her work emphasizes the profound influence pharmacists can have on patients' lives, reinforcing the belief that impactful pathways exist when healthcare professionals invest time and effort in compassionate care.

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What are you currently doing as a pharmacy professional and how did you progress to where you are today?

Kris OMalley Cls 14 (1)

Kris O'Malley, PharmD '14

Currently, I hold a position at Intermountain Health within the Peaks region St. Joseph Hospital Franklin Specialty Pharmacy in Denver. Following the recent merger with SCL, the organizational nomenclature is in transition, and its final designation remains pending. My background includes a tenure at St. Joseph Hospital's Emergency Room preceding enrollment in Pharmacy School—a departure from the conventional career trajectory that has proven to be professionally enriching.


Post-graduation, I have been privileged to continue my career journey with St Joseph Hospital, assuming the role of a pharmacist. In my current capacity as the most senior associate within our Specialty pharmacy, I have played a pivotal role in adapting to the escalating workload observed over the past decade. This dynamic operational environment has necessitated continuous vigilance and adaptability, contributing to a substantial professional growth trajectory.


I look forward to contributing further to the continued success of our evolving healthcare institution and navigating the upcoming developments resulting from the recent merger.

What is different about the person you are today compared to the person you were while in school?

While my engagement with academic studies may not be as extensive, my commitment to excellence remains unwavering. Addressing the question at hand poses a challenge as I reflect on my dedication to delivering optimal performance consistently. Throughout my professional journey, my focus has remained steadfast on executing my responsibilities with diligence and dedication.
My enduring passion for patient care persists, and I am devoted to assisting them in navigating the complexities of insurance processes— an area that, admittedly, continues to perplex me. Despite the intricacies involved, my commitment to providing valuable support to patients remains resolute.

Maintaining a delicate balance between professional and personal commitments, my family holds paramount importance in my life. However, during working hours, I channel my undivided attention and energy into fulfilling my duties with precision and effectiveness. This steadfast focus underscores my dedication to delivering high-quality work and contributing positively to my professional environment.

What has been a defining moment for you as a seasoned professional?

Seasoned by experience, I have cultivated a sense of grace and the capacity to appreciate moments that bring humility. I firmly believe that credibility is bolstered by a transparent acknowledgment of uncertainty rather than attempting to fabricate responses hastily.

In my professional interactions, I have consistently engaged clinicians in open dialogue, posing questions about their prescription decisions, dosing strategies, or interpretations of lab values that may deviate from conventional teachings or package inserts. This collaborative approach seeks to tailor medical interventions to individual patients, emphasizing the importance of teamwork in achieving desired outcomes while prioritizing patient safety.

The crux of patient safety lies in the confidence of caregivers, even when grappling with uncertainty. Acknowledging limits and recognizing the expertise of others fosters a collaborative environment where collective efforts are directed toward optimal patient outcomes. In essence, understanding one's boundaries, appreciating others' expertise, and collaborating effectively contribute to the attainment of the best possible results for our patients.

What inspired you to attend the CU Pharmacy program and what was your experience while in the program?

I am profoundly grateful for the opportunity extended to me to join the CU Pharmacy Program. While my acceptance came on the eve of the academic term after initially being waitlisted, I am appreciative of the privilege to be a part of an institution that holds a distinguished position in the field of medicine.

The University of Colorado has demonstrated a profound understanding of the intricacies of the healthcare domain, earning widespread respect within the community. The caliber of the program is evident in its comprehensive curriculum and the emphasis placed on empowering students with the confidence and knowledge requisite for their professional journey.

I am privileged to be associated with an esteemed institution that not only values academic excellence but also instills a sense of competence in its students. The CU Pharmacy Program's commitment to developing well-rounded and confident professionals aligns seamlessly with my aspirations, and I look forward to contributing meaningfully to the program and, ultimately, the broader healthcare community.

What is your proudest moment and your favorite thing about working in the pharmacy profession, and how are you making a difference in your career?

I am privileged to work in a specialized pharmacy where I have the distinct pleasure of serving an exceptional patient community. My primary focus lies in Oncology, where I am actively engaged in assisting patients with the management of their oral oncolytics. In addition to oncology, our scope encompasses a diverse range of therapeutic areas, including but not limited to, HCV, HIV, various rheumatic conditions, injectables for RA, AS, Crohn's, MS, and neurological disorders. This dynamic environment allows me to stay abreast of developments in numerous disease states, presenting a continuous opportunity for professional growth.

A source of immense pride for me is the positive impact I've had on patient experiences. For instance, advocating for a patient who chose to terminate their infectious disease provider due to inappropriate remarks, or guiding a breast cancer patient through the process of applying for financial assistance, resulting in significant monthly savings. It's moments like these that underscore the meaningful impact we can make in patients' lives.

One particularly rewarding aspect of my role involves coordinating care for individuals facing complex medication regimens. I take pride in facilitating communication and collaboration across multiple disciplines, including cardiology, primary care, endocrinology, and oncology, spanning different hospital systems. This holistic approach ensures optimal medication adherence and regimen comprehension for patients, even in intricate situations involving multiple medical specialties.

In essence, my role goes beyond dispensing medications; it involves investing the time and effort necessary to positively influence the lives of those under our care. It is a constant reminder that there is always a pathway to impact someone's life; we just need to take the time to find it.

What sage advice would you pass on to current and future students that was helpful for you in preparing for the job market?

While I have not recently explored the current job market, I offer the perspective that maintaining an open mind is crucial when seeking new professional opportunities. Prioritizing a balanced work-life dynamic is paramount for long-term satisfaction and career fulfillment. It is my belief that prioritizing personal well-being and familial commitments over purely financial considerations yields greater overall happiness.

In navigating career decisions, the pursuit of financial gain alone may not necessarily translate into lasting contentment. Instead, directing focus towards aligning professional choices with personal values, and placing family and life priorities at the forefront, contributes significantly to job satisfaction. This approach not only enhances one's enjoyment of their professional role but also fosters a sense of fulfillment derived from positively impacting the lives of others.

In summary, a judicious approach to career decisions, with an emphasis on work-life balance and personal fulfillment, is integral to both professional success and overall well-being.

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