For Omniah Elmorshedy, the path to a PharmD looked a little different than most. A student in our Distance Degrees and Programs Office, Elmorshedy already had a Bachelor’s of Pharmacy from Egypt and had been practicing pharmacy in her home country, where a doctor of pharmacy is not necessary. She moved permanently to the United States in 2015 where she had a seven-month internship, took and passed the North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination (NAPLEX), and was able to practice as a licensed Pharmacist – and yet, she wanted more.
Elmorshedy grew up in Egypt with a mother who is a physician and medical professor, and saw that patient interaction was a key part in patient health. The clinical setting of pharmacy was an interest to her, and so she started researching distance PharmD programs. By chance, she saw a CU Pharmacy booth at a pharmacy conference and found out about CU Pharmacy’s North American-Trained PharmD (NTPD) program. NTPD was established in 1999, when a Bachelor’s of Pharmacy was the prevalent degree for licensed pharmacists. Since that time, over 600 Registered Pharmacists (RPhs) like Elmorshedy have completed the program giving them the opportunity to advance their education, and career opportunities, into expanding clinical pharmacy roles.
“I found out the program was flexible, could be two to six years, depending on if I go full-time or part-time, and I could stay living where I am, which at the time, was Chicago,” she said.
She applied for the spring of 2018 and was accepted. This spring, she graduates with her long-awaited PharmD, and is excited to start her postgraduate year one (PGY1) residency at Swedish Medical Center in Seattle this July.
“My husband and I made a goal tree, and this was one of them,” she said. “I created the path to become a clinical PharmD, and I am so excited because it is happening.”
Not without challenges, and exciting life changes. Last April, in the beginning of the COVID pandemic, she and her family moved to Seattle to be closer to friends. Also in the last year, while balancing work as a licensed pharmacist, doctoral student, and applying for residencies, she and her husband welcomed a baby.
“I learned so much over the past few years,” she said. “Time management is important. I had to work, I had rotations, and I had to study. I would not change anything, but it was hard. It got me to my goal and I am so glad that I was able to do it.”
“There were times that I was super stressed, where I was studying on my lunch break. But it also was unique because I was working while I was learning, so I could apply my studies in real-time.”
Though she had experience as a pharmacist in Egypt, the clinical role is not as developed as it is in the United States. She explained that most pharmacists in Egypt are in hospital settings, and patient interaction is less. With a PharmD, her time is now spent interacting with patients and taking a more active role in their healthcare.
“One thing this program taught me was how to approach different patient scenarios, how to check and follow guidelines and provide evidence-based recommendations, and how to communicate with my patients,” she said. “It taught me how to be a better provider.”
As she finished her last year of school, she saw her life drastically change with the onset of COVID. Rotations changed, one was online, and patient care became more challenging.
“It was especially hard communicating with patients, because so many of them are elderly and it is hard to hear or understand them through a mask,” she said.
She remains optimistic, and takes everything as a learning opportunity.
“This experience makes me better,” she said. “This year has been hard, but I have so much to look forward to. I am so excited for the future.”