Photo by Randall Gee

  • Print

A Prescription for Success

by Christopher HerediaNov 15, 2012

Pacific Pharm. D graduate Nicole Martinez '12 glided across the polished floors of Children's Hospital Central California, on her way to deliver a bag of life-preserving chemotherapy to a young patient. Carrying cancer-fighting chemicals and other vital medications is just one part of Martinez's busy job as a post-graduate pediatric resident.

"The education I received from Pacific definitely put me in a strong position to have the life I'm having now as a pediatric pharmacy resident."
Nicole Martinez 

Since completing the Professional Pharmacy program at the Thomas J. Long School of Pharmacy and landing an impressive residency, Martinez has helped dozens of patients and families through difficult times. And she does it with a smile.

As doctors sometimes enter medication information incorrectly, it's Martinez's job to be a pharmaceutical traffic cop. She is in constant contact with physicians and nurses and her colleagues in pharmacy, in an effort to avoid potentially fatal errors.

She also knows from her intensive clinical study at Pacific which medication is most effective for which bug, how it should be constituted and in what area of the body it would have optimal effect.

"The education I received from Pacific definitely put me in a strong position to have the life I'm having now as a pediatric pharmacy resident," said Martinez, 26, who received a Dean's List Award on her last rotation block. "We had real-life cases presented in pharmacy school that I'm using today."

A Top-Notch Education
Nicole Martinez with a childTo land a pharmacy residency at Children's Hospital was no small feat.  The 348-bed facility treats more inpatient cases than any hospital of its kind north of San Diego, making it the second largest children's hospital in the state, and one of the 10 largest pediatric hospitals in the nation.  For Martinez who wanted to work in pediatrics, Children's was the clear top choice.

Martinez developed a keen interest in the sciences in honors classes in high school. She earned her bachelor's in chemistry from California State University, Fresno, before entering University of the Pacific. She said the Thomas J. Long School of Pharmacy was her first choice for graduate school because of its strong reputation for producing top notch pharmacy graduates, as well as the school's accelerated three-year doctoral degree.

Nicole MartinezThe school produces one-third of currently practicing California pharmacists and its alumni are stand-out leaders in every health science field. Martinez and her fellow doctoral students went through two years of classroom training and a third year in the field. She benefitted also from the fact that her professors work in pharmacy settings off campus and bring cutting edge, hands-on knowledge to the classroom.

Martinez credits the Wilcox family, independent pharmacy owners in the Central Valley, for inspiring her to pursue her pharmacy doctoral degree. She volunteered two summers while an undergrad at Fresno State at one of their pharmacies. Graduates of the Long School of Pharmacy themselves, the Wilcoxs exemplified professionalism, excellent patient care and customer service to Martinez.

At Pacific, Martinez said Long faculty took her under their wing and showed her not only an excellent clinical education, but also great compassion. Her mentors were Dr. William Kehoe and Dr. Nancy DeGuire.

A Well-Rounded Residency
Nicole MartinezMartinez's residency is one year. When she finishes, she will be prepared to fill a position as a staff pharmacist. She sees herself staying in pediatrics and would one day like to mentor young pharmacy graduates.

"Kids we're dealing with, some of them are fighting cancer, and that is difficult for me, but I plan to stay in pediatrics because the success stories are so moving," Martinez said. "I really like working with the kids. The pediatricians are amazing. They love their patients. Physicians are aware and they know who the pharmacists are and they really value their opinions. It says a lot about the institution."

Dr. Bill Koole, an oncology/hematology pharmacist at Children's Hospital who has overseen numerous residents, said, "It might take five years in the field to see everything our residents see in one year. When she comes out, she will be very well rounded and be able to say 'I've done all these things' and that makes her more marketable."