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Research Faculty Alumni

True Grit

Author cupharmacy | Publish Date May 23, 2016

Michael Cobretti’s got grit. At least, that’s what Dr. Christina Aquilante says.

Cobretti graduated from CU’s Skaggs School of Pharmacy in 2015 with a dream of doing a residency. But when it came time to match, the Walgreens pharmacy manager didn’t make the cut.

“It can often be difficult for students to get a residency, because the competition is so high,” said Aquilante. “And in some cases, students may not even realize they want to do a residency until late in their academic career.”

“I felt like a residency would open doors to a specific form of patient care, in my case managing chronic disease states like hypertension, diabetes, anticoagulation and dyslipidemia,” he said. “So, when I didn’t match, it was really tough on me. To me, I think it’s important to keep learning, growing, and diversifying.”

Passion meets perseverance

Determined for research experience, he reached out to several professors, including Aquilante, who had created a clinical research internship program to help graduates obtain research experience to increase their chances of obtaining a residency. The unpaid internship allows interns to develop fundamental skills in cardiovascular-related clinical research and requires the intern to devise a scientific question or hypothesis, test it, and execute a study with the goal of submitting their abstract to a national meeting.

“Chris was amazing enough to take me under her wing,” said Cobretti.

Cobretti’s study, “Medication Regimen Complexity in Older Adults with Heart Failure,” consisted of a retrospective chart review of older adults who’ve experienced heart failure and the types of medications they’re prescribed. Drs. Aquilante and Sunny Linnebur served as co-mentors for this project. The results concluded that medication regimen complexity is high in older adults with heart failure and differs based on the type of heart failure.

“You don’t see a lot of active research in geriatric patients with heart failure despite it being commonly thought of as a disease state of the elderly, so geriatrics was something I was really interested in,” said Cobretti.

Cobretti’s study was presented in April at the International Society for Heart and Lung Transplantation Annual Meeting and Scientific Sessions in Washington, D.C.

“His desire to learn and do what it takes to achieve his goals is unparalleled,” said Aquilante. “Michael put in the hard work and persevered.”

Now, one year and 11 interviews later, Cobretti has landed an ambulatory residency at the VA Eastern Kansas Health Care System.

“I wouldn’t have got it without the help and tutelage of Drs. Aquilante and Linnebur,” said Cobretti. “Overall, it was the most beneficial thing that could happen; I learned so much about myself.”

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