In 2018, we chatted with PharmD student and Denver Barbarians Rugby player, Carmine Hernandez. At the time, Hernandez was a second year CU Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences student and fresh off winning the rugby Men's Division II National Championship with the Barbarians. Today, he is approaching graduation, planning his future, and excited about his residency. We caught up with Hernandez as he begins this new chapter.
Injury Creates Opportunity
What has changed in three years, since you last spoke to us about balancing rugby and school?
After winning the National Rugby Championship in 2018 with the Denver Barbarians, I had to take a break from rugby because I ended up having to get surgery on my left hand. The surgery was to fix a fracture that had occurred during the season. Like any injury, it set me back a bit in terms of continuing rugby, however I used this time to focus on expanding and growing my pharmacy resume to ensure I was a strong candidate for residencies.
I was fortunate enough to get an opportunity to be a part of a great pharmacy team and become a principal investigator for a research project at University of Colorado Hospital. It was great to see how I was growing even more as a pharmacist, however I found myself feeling a bit lost at times. Rugby had become a part of my identity, most of my brothers, sisters, and friends were in the rugby community, and I missed being out there with them even if it meant having longer days. I realized how much rugby energized me and how happy I was when I was on the pitch.
In fall of 2019, I decided it was time to return to rugby. I had completed my physical therapy for my hand and came out to practice with Queen City rugby football union. I am grateful for how welcoming the team was. Head Coach Ken Stone was very knowledgeable, and I could see how he cared for each player and their growth on and off the field. This team helped me prepare for the upcoming Pacific Rugby Premiership Conference, the highest level of amateur rugby union in America. I transferred to Glendale Merlins Pacific Rugby Premiership squad for the upcoming 2020 spring season. It was an amazing experience that was sadly short lived due to COVID.
Preparing for the Pitch
Is rugby still a part of your life?
Yes, it is. I have been doing what I can to be mentally and physically ready for when club rugby returns, and we are able to play on the pitch and have fans at the games. I am fortunate to have amazing family and friends who love to stay fit and keep me accountable for showing up to trainings. I must thank Bobby Impson, owner of Intent Sports Performance, who designed a program specific to my rugby goals to advance my fitness and strength during the lockdown. I look forward to when rugby returns!
Readying for Residency
In 2018, you really enjoyed the clinical setting. Where do you see yourself working now?
I was fortunate to secure a residency position at St. Joseph Hospital in Denver, Colorado. I am beyond thankful for this opportunity as it will enable me to learn, expand my knowledge, and work in the inpatient setting. I have heard so many great things about this program and look forward to working with such a great team.
What are your future plans as a pharmacist?
Complete my Postgraduate Year One (PGY1) Residency program at St. Joseph Hospital, and if an area interests me enough, I will pursue a Postgraduate Year Two (PGY2) Residency to specialize in that area. My family and fiancée are in Colorado, so my goal is to secure a job at a hospital in Colorado!
Passing it Forward
Anything else you want to include?
I want to thank my family, my fiancée, my friends, my professors, my co-workers, and my preceptors for all their support through this time. It is amazing to see the impact each person has in my life and I look forward to passing it forward!