Complete Story

New Practitioner Experience News Summer 2023

Npx Logo Only

OPA New Practitioner Experience (NPX) Committee Launchpad

Summer 2023

Welcome to the NPX Launchpad

Welcome to the Summer 2023 edition of the NPX Launchpad, the quarterly newsletter intends to help you, a new practitioner, excel personally and professionally!

Check out our featured articles:

We hope you enjoy the NPX Launchpad and we invite each of you to take the next step in your professional growth by getting involved with NPX today!

Sincerely, your NPX Advisory Team,

Chair: Megan (Stephan) Hull, R.Ph., PharmD, BCACP
Vice-Chair: Jennifer Wick, R.Ph., PharmD, MPH, BCACP
Member-at-Large: Korie Maryo, R.Ph., PharmD
Member-at-Large: Eric Dierkes, R.Ph., PharmD, CTTS
Member-at-Large: Regann Rutschilling, R.Ph., PharmD
Launchpad Coordinator: Rebecca Lahrman, R.Ph., PharmD, MS, BCACP

How My OPA Membership Saved Me Over $25,000

By Sheriff Benson, R.Ph., PharmD, OPA Student Pharmacist Advisor

You're probably noticing how clickbaity the title of this article was, unfortunately, that's how you have to get people's attention these days. Gone are the days of people giving you their attention for free. Attention is now a commodity , attention is now something that has to be bought and sold or traded. You know, it reminds me of when I first got involved with OPA.

When I first heard of OPA, my attention also had to be bought. I had to be bribed with the goal of getting a free meal or, you know, some type of swag to attend a presentation by the Ohio Pharmacist’s Association. The moment that I got that presentation, I saw the value in the association.

At that time, the value was something that was abstract, hard to hold in my hands, hard to put in my wallet, and even harder to take home and share with others. But I understood that being involved with the organization might have some future benefit that I couldn't quite put into words.

Nowadays, it's very easy for me to talk about the value OPA has to offer, especially because they saved me over $25,000 and I'm sure you are wondering how.

I recently had the privilege of being a part of an NPR story about navigating the  housing market and eventually buying a home during these economically turbulent times. In the story I discuss how I was able to afford my home.

While searching for my dream home I applied to every lender I could find, and was denied by most. At this point in my life I was working as a pharmacist in long term care making a good pharmacist's salary, but I had $170,000 in student loan debt that made it difficult for me to qualify for a loan. Luckily for me, my membership in OPA led me to an advertisement on OPA's webpage for First Merchants Bank. As a member benefit OPA had an advertising relationship with First Merchants Bank.

I put in a loan application to First Merchants Bank and got a call from a fantastic loan officer shortly after.

Turns out I qualified for their Physician loan program that they make available to other medical providers such as Nurses, NPs, PAs, Dentists and Pharmacists.

I noticed that other provider loan programs I had found did not list pharmacists, but did list other healthcare providers such as Physicians, Nurses, NPs, PAs and Dentists. It seemed odd that Pharmacists were routinely left out of these lists, but then it struck me that pharmacists were only recently recognized as providers in Ohio due to legislation that was passed with the help of OPA’s advocacy.

I realized this may have affected Pharmacists’ ability to be recognized as providers for programs such as these.

Thankfully Ohio now recognized pharmacists as providers thanks to provider status legislation that I got to advocate for as a student member of OPA.

My involvement and membership paid off in more ways than one. I wouldn’t have thought that my membership in OPA would yield all these benefits, but I knew my membership came with a lot of benefits, a lot of which I didn't quite understand.

Now I am very glad that I joined and got involved in spite of that, because of my membership I was able to find First Merchants Physician loan program which offered 100% financing up to $1 million, No mortgage insurance requirements, as little as zero down for the downpayment with a minimum credit score of 680.

If I had not found this option and had to put down a 10 or even 20% down payment, I would have had to have $46,000 just for the down payment on my home. So not only did my OPA membership save me over $25,000 it also made living in my dream home a reality.

How to Function with Functional Medicine

By Megan Best, PharmD Candidate 2024

Functional medicine is quickly growing more popular throughout various patient populations. At the OPA Annual meeting over the past few years there has been a session on functional medicine, and I hope this continues to help pharmacists offer more options to patients.

Functional medicine is defined as a biologically based approach that focuses on identifying and addressing the root cause of disease. The functional medicine model of care fosters a patient-centered approach to chronic disease management. Pharmacists have an excellent avenue to engage with their patients surrounding functional medicine and adjunctive supplementation. Pharmacists often receive questions from patients regarding their health and medication choices as a trusted resource. Pharmacists have an expansive knowledge set to critically and clinically review patients’ lifestyles, history, and diagnoses to make recommendations with a holistic approach, however our schooling often stops short on supplement education.

Pharmacists can use their education and broaden their scope of knowledge surrounding holistic treatments to ensure patients use safe and effective products. Finding information about different herbals and supplements often requires some investigation, but there are principles to help lead pharmacists’ research. One principle outlined in pharmacist training is IESA which stands for indication, efficacy, safety, and adherence. If there have been trials surrounding a specific supplement, they are often published and easily resulted from different databases, such as PubMed, with keywords related to the supplement. The study should outline the indication and dose along with safety and efficacy in the condition indicated. After determining the possible and relevant indications associated with the supplement, the pharmacist can have a discussion with the patient on the potential usefulness for them. Additional resources can be found on the database for Natural Medicines, the Institute for Functional Medicine, functional medicine pharmacists alliance, and the Cleveland Clinic center for functional medicine. These different categories should help pharmacists make an informed decision regarding patients’ care and their functional medicine care goals.

Pharmacists are crucial for functional medicine expansion, and their knowledge and skill set support the tenets of functional medicine. Functional medicine is often more personalized care plans to achieve patient inspired goals which allows for increased adherence to the regimen. In addition to increased adherence, functional medicine offers an opportunity for lifestyle changes and coping with diagnoses which fosters an environment for lasting change for patients. Pharmacists are empowered by their role in functional medicine to make lasting changes for patients and being a critical part of their care team.

For pharmacists wanting to build their knowledge set, I would suggest starting small with one supplement or condition and building from there. Places to start could be a supplement a patient asks about, one you have considered taking, or a supplement that has become popular or would serve many patients like ashwagandha or agents that can help with pain.

Transitioning Residency Training Skills to Independent Practice

By Tristan Tyger, R.Ph., PharmD

As my PGY2 residency in Ambulatory Care Pharmacy is coming to an end and my final foreseeable academic hurdle will be conquered, I have begun to consider how my residency experience will translate into independent practice. Two years of residency provides an unquantifiable amount of learning opportunities and personal development, and these are a few major themes that will provide great benefit as post-residency employment begins. Incoming residents should consider how to actively cultivate these skills during the coming year, and outgoing residents like myself should reflect on their acuity in these areas and how they will be applied in new post-residency roles.

Integrating into unique teams

·       As you dance between various services and clinic settings throughout residency you will encounter a wide spectrum of team dynamics, especially in relation to the pharmacist’s role. Much of this is dependent on the groundwork in place, for instance if the pharmacist has the ability to independently adjust medications via active consult agreements or institutional policies versus acting via recommendations only. The setting can have a large impact as well, as the pharmacist may not always be physically stationed near the other team members and may even be completely remote. Learning to quickly assess the team’s usual workflow, needs, and where you can best fit into the process to improve patient care is key, especially as rotations tend to be relatively short. These skills will help you establish your place in your post-residency role and bring ideas for ongoing pharmacist service expansion and patient care improvement.

Finding comfort in the unknown

·       The pace of residency starts off swiftly and doesn’t slow down until graduation day. Somehow by the time you feel comfortable in your role in each rotation, you are likely preparing to move on to the next one. It is critical to find comfort in the uncomfortable and unknown spaces, as that is where the greatest potential for learning lies. This will be beneficial in practice as well, as you move on to a new level of independence without a preceptor to lean on in times of uncertainty. Knowing how to navigate the discomfort of the unknown will help you problem-solve and work through complex situations more efficiently. During residency you will learn to know your resources, collaborate with colleagues, and facilitate efficient communication among stakeholders in each unique situation.

Requesting and implementing feedback

·       The days of “Feedback Fridays” and monthly formal evaluations may seem overwhelming, but they provide a wealth of growth opportunities that will dwindle after residency. Post-residency performance feedback may even be as minimal as annual performance reviews. Proactively seeking and mindfully listening to feedback during residency will help you master many skills such as patient interactions, integrating into a team, professional writing, and more. If feedback is vague, request clarification and actionable suggestions, as effective feedback is critical to shaping your practice style during residency. As you enter post-residency employment, you may consider requesting feedback from managers and colleagues especially during the orientation period to ensure you are meeting expectations.

Cultivating wellness and boundaries

·       ASHP is encouraging residency programs to place a higher emphasis on resident wellbeing and resiliency, which is critical for effective learning during the intensity of residency training. Setting expectations, time management strategies, and intentional time for personal enjoyment are crucial for maintaining a positive residency experience. It will also prime you for establishing a suitable work-life balance in the long term following residency, to be able to best serve both your patients and yourself. Being mindful to not over-commit to projects, organizations, and working hours during the early stages of post-residency practice is a key initial step following residency graduation, as it may be tempting to continue the accustomed rapid pace and task volume of residency.

It is challenging to quantify all the learning opportunities that come with pharmacy residency training, and there are many skills to be developed beyond clinical knowledge. Having your desired future practice setting in mind can guide the focus to specific skills during residency and can propel you into success as you begin your independent practice. If there is a specific skill area that you’d like to focus on, I would encourage you to work with your residency leadership and preceptors to set up relevant opportunities, as that is exactly what residency is for! 

A Taste of Our Kitchen

Mizeria (Polish Cucumber Salad) 
By Ola Latala, R.Ph., PharmD, OPA Fellow


  • 1 pound small cucumbers, peeled and thinly sliced salt to taste

  • 1 bunch dill, chopped

  • 2 ½ tablespoons sour cream

  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice

  • 1 pinch white sugar, or to taste

  • 1 pinch ground black pepper, or to taste


Place cucumbers into a colander and sprinkle generously with salt; let stand until soft, about 5 minutes. Squeeze liquid from cucumbers and transfer to a bowl with dill. Mix sour cream, lemon juice, and sugar together in a bowl; add to cucumbers and toss to coat. Season with pepper. Cover and chill for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Hometown Highlights: Powell, OH

By Rebecca Lahrman, PharmD, MS, BCACP

I grew up in the village of Powell, which is now the city of Powell, and when I go home to visit my parents, I’m always in awe of the new business that have gone in and how much the town has changed. If you are looking for some laid-back fireworks this summer, then Powell Festival is a great option which is June 23rd and 24th this year at the village green. I loved watching them at the Powell Pool growing up and all the fair foods coming to town. 

But if you can’t make it during that weekend don’t worry. Stop by anytime and parking at the municipal building to walk along the historic downtown for an afternoon. While the business have changed over the years, but buildings still have their original charm and the small town feel is complete with the active train tracks. There are many food options like Local Roots, Huli Huli, and Oishii Japanese Bistro that you can easily walk to and offer great food. Or if you are out for a bike ride and need a refreshing drink there are a few breweries like Ill Mannered and Nocterra that often have food trucks. If you have a whole day, then start the day by a visit to the Columbus Zoo, not but five minutes down the road. Or bring your swimsuit and enjoy the fun at Zoombezi Bay. 

Visiting in college always felt so weird, but now going back a decade after high school I can see the charm of my hometown and appreciate how much its grown and changed. Much like how we all changed in the transition from student to professional. 

Get Involved with the Launchpad Newsletter

Help contribute to the next Launchpad newsletter! Articles may be submitted for Pharmacy Trivia, Rx Impact, Financial Future, A Taste of Our Kitchen, and Ohio Days. Have an idea for another article relevant to students and new practitioners? You can submit that as well!

Sign up for upcoming articles HERE.

Articles should be submitted in a Word document to Rebecca Lahrman at Photographs for articles should be submitted as attachments for higher quality reproduction. Thank you!

Printer-Friendly Version