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Resident Discovers a Passion for Pediatric Pharmacy

Published on 10 December 2019

After earning her bachelor’s degree in health sciences, Sarah Mooney, Pharm.D., PGY1 pharmacy resident and clinical instructor, accepted a position at Epic, an electronic health record software company that is used by hospitals, clinics, independent practices and medical centers.

“I was interested in pursuing a career in pharmacy, but after finishing undergrad I wasn’t sure if it was the right time for me,” Mooney said.

Inspired by what she observed while visiting clinical pharmacies and working with pharmacists on behalf of Epic, Mooney knew she wanted to pursue a career in clinical pharmacy.

“As an experiential learner, I knew I needed to complete a pharmacy residency program in order to set myself up for success,” she added.

After completing a rotation in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) during her final year of pharmacy school, she discovered her passion for pediatric clinical pharmacy.

“My rotation in pediatric pharmacy gave me direction,” she said. “Witnessing the attention to detail, outstanding care and collaboration between the health care team, patients and parents was life changing.”

After learning more about the College’s PGY1 Pharmacy Residency Program at Mercy Hospital St. Louis, which offers elective NICU and pediatric pharmacy rotations, Mooney knew it was the right position for her to expand her knowledge about pediatric pharmacy.

“I wanted a program that would include training in both adult and pediatric pharmacy,” she said. “I know I will have patients who are at an age or weight where I will need to dose them as if they are an adult. It’s important for me to gain a strong clinical background in caring for adult populations so I can better understand the pediatric population.”

Under the direction of her pharmacy residency preceptor Kayla Vecera, Pharm.D. ’11, Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) clinical pharmacist at Mercy Hospital St. Louis, Mooney is using her passion for pediatric pharmacy to examine ways to reduce delirium in the PICU.

“The hospital recently implemented new sedation and delirium scoring systems in the PICU,” she said. “By examining the scoring systems’ data before and after the implementation, we can determine if there is a change in the amount of time and medication a patient needs to be sedated and how the new scoring system impacts incidence and awareness of delirium.”

Ultimately, Mooney hopes to minimize delirium and raise awareness about how sedative medications influence the development of delirium.

“This project pushes me outside my comfort zone, and I know this experience will show future employers that I’m willing to challenge myself,” she said.

Through the College’s Resident Education Academy (REA), a certificate program designed to introduce teaching and learning principles, including abilities-based education, Mooney also has learned how to educate student pharmacists.

“It has been rewarding to watch student pharmacists interact with patients and teach them some of the things that I learned during pharmacy school,” she said. “It’s an amazing feeling to help a student pharmacist understand the impact they are having on their patients’ health.”

Mooney acknowledges that building relationships is a key part of being a pharmacy resident and clinical instructor.

“Patients need to feel comfortable taking their medications and student pharmacists need to feel confident serving on a collaborative health care team as the medication experts,” she added. “In pediatric pharmacy, it’s even more important to not only build relationships with other health care professionals, but with parents and children as well.”

Next year, Mooney plans to use her residency, research and REA experience at the College as a stepping stone to pursue a pediatric PGY2 pharmacy residency position.

To learn more about the College's residency program, visit stlcop.edu/residency.

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