Sunday, October 11, 2015

Rotation 4: Alphabet Soup

Posted by Rebecca Racz at Sunday, October 11, 2015

ORP, OCC, DMEPA, OGD.  On my first day, while I was waiting to meet my preceptor, a man struck up a conversation with me (apparently I looked lost).  He asked me where I worked, and I spelled it out, Office of Regulatory Policy.  He nodded with recognition: "Oh, ORP! I'm from OSE!"  I guess I looked confused, because he started explaining some of the abbreviations before he had to run to a meeting.  Five weeks later, I still see and hear abbreviations daily that I need to look up.

Working in ORP was completely different from what I expected, but I still absolutely loved it.  I was surprised to learn (although it is somewhat implied in the name) that the office is filled with lawyers. Interacting with lawyers in a healthcare setting is very different from working with other healthcare professionals.  Some of my office's main responsibilities included participating in the development of rules and regulations and responding to citizen petitions (documents individuals, groups, and companies can write to FDA to try to persuade them to change something, such as remove a drug from the market, issue a guidance or rule, or make labeling changes).  In both of these cases, I appreciated having different disciplines working on these projects together.  As a healthcare professional, advice and knowledge I felt was obvious was not always clear to others, and vice versa.  Having multiple experts from a variety of areas allowed for the clearest documents to be released to the general public.

FDA was not all work and no play, however.  I attended nearly daily meetings to learn about all the different departments and met individually with pharmacists from several departments.  I also went on several field trips, including the Bureau of Prisons, American Pharmacists Association, United States Pharmacopeia, and the Pentagon.  Pharmacists are working all over the world in places you would never expect to find them, and hearing about the variety of opportunities available for those looking for a non-traditional path was informative - many jobs I had never considered, or even heard of before!

Overall, this was a fantastic rotation that went by too fast.  I loved the idea that I was affecting pharmacy at a national level by assisting with the creation of various policies.  I have always wanted to effect change on a grander scale than one patient, one pharmacy, or one hospital, and at FDA I was able to accomplish that.  I look forward to hopefully returning one day, but until then, onwards to pediatrics!

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