Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Rotation 2: Non-traditional - Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

Posted by Polly at Tuesday, August 27, 2019

My second rotation was at the FDA in Silver Spring, Maryland. I was looking forward to this rotation since I first heard about it in my P1 year. I have always been interested in non-traditional pharmacy and most of my internship and extracurriculars are geared towards the non-traditional roles of pharmacy. I lived on the University of Maryland (UMD) campus. This was at most a 20-minute drive to the FDA if there was traffic. I was lucky because my rotation was during the summer where many students were looking for subleasers! Unlike some of my peers, I had better luck finding cheaper housing options.

My first day was a whirl wind of meetings, badging appointments, security checks, and trying to figure out what all the acronyms were for each department. I was the only Michigan student onsite during this rotation, so it was definitely a scary experience being alone in a new city. The APPE students there besides me came from all over the country and it was a great networking experience.

My preceptor is the Deputy Director of FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research's Office of Compliance. She deals with securing our supply chain for pharmaceutical products and was a helpful mentor. She took the time out of her busy schedule to have one on one meetings with me almost each day to see how I was doing and to see if I was interested in attending meetings with her. It was nerve wracking to be in the same meeting as some of these officers and oversea agencies. Aside from my preceptor I worked on projects from many other departments.

My schedule was not as clear cut as my first rotation. A lot of my time went into networking with people from the FDA and lectures given to us by PharmDs from different departments. The rest of my time was projects from a variety of departments. My projects varied from data analysis for MedWatch, reviewing 501k submissions for medical devices, a variety of written work, and a presentation on FDA's Medical Devices Regulatory Process.

Here are some tips when you go on the road to Maryland for those of you who get chosen:
  1. If you choose to drive, it is a 9 hour car ride and you need to bring at at least $40 dollars for the toll roads. I drove alone and it was very boring so either bring fun music or listen to a podcast.
  2. Silver Spring is on the edge of DC and I highly suggest visiting! Get a SmarTrip Card and just google your way around. I wouldn’t suggest looking at the maps on pamphlets they have because it can get annoying really quickly. Google maps is your best friend and you get alerts for when the train is delayed or if the stop gets switched to a different area. The trains are very well kept and is not as confusing as I thought they would be.
  3. BRING REUSUABLE BAGS. They charge money per bag you use and it can add up especially if you are grocery shopping.
  4.  I went in July. It was hot. It was sunny. It was humid. Even when it rains, the humidity and heat does not let up. It was disgusting weather and I never thought I would experience heat on par with southern Asia in the United States. Find an Airbnb or apartment with AC and don’t even bother packing a hoodie or a long sleeve shirt. That will only take up room. The fall is nice though from what I heard.
Overall, the rotation gave me an understanding of the work the FDA does and has solidified my intent to pursue a fellowship after graduation.

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