Dana Caldwell ’22, a biochemistry and molecular biology major at Bryn Mawr, had expected to spend the summer of 2020 much as she had the summer of 2019, interning in a lab or engaged in some other research opportunity.
However, as the threat of COVID-19 became more apparent and research labs began to suspend operations, Dana, who is still deciding between a career as a clinician or researcher, knew in early March that she needed a plan B.
Dana lives near Bryn Mawr in the town of Garnet Valley. Her past research internship had been at a Penn Medicine cancer genetics lab and she turned again to the healthcare system (the largest in the area) to find other opportunities that would still allow her to explore her interests.
She found the opportunity at Penn Medicine Chester County Hospital working as an in-patient pharmacy technician.
“A hospital pharmacy technician is such a unique position,” says Dana. “It allows someone to gain insight into the intersection of healthcare and science.”
Dana’s general responsibilities include compounding IV medication bags for admitted patients, delivering patients' medications to each floor, and assisting the pharmacists in restocking medications.
She works two main types of shifts: in the IV room compounding IV medications using aseptic, sterile technique or in the pharmacy restocking non-IV medications and delivering them to patient floors, the labor and delivery unit, hospice, and the operating room.
COVID-19 delayed her start date to May due to a hiring freeze in the early days of the pandemic and it has certainly led to many changes in the overall operation of the hospital, but, according to Dana, it’s impact on how her job is done has been relatively minor.
“Although the pharmacy is already very strict with cleanliness and sterility, a few additional safety measures have been put into effect such as wearing masks and maintaining distance from one another at all times.”
Dana advises students to take advantage of the services of the Career & Civic Engagement Office but also advocates for taking the initiative in looking for opportunities, which is how she found both her current position and her 2019 research internship.
“Look for and pursue any and all opportunities that interest you. Embrace every opportunity, even if you have little to no experience. My pharmaceutical knowledge is fairly limited, but my employer saw my willingness and eagerness to learn. Don’t be afraid to apply for positions that you have less experience than others in; it might end up leading you in a new direction.”
Mawrters, are you volunteering, working, learning something new on your own, helping family, or anything else this summer that you'd like to let the world know about? If so, we want to hear from you at firstname.lastname@example.org.