Pharmacist in training seeks to expand her knowledge in aging.
With 10,000 people turning 65 every day in the U.S. alone, Christina Meridew understands the importance of having an advanced education in aging while working in the pharmacy field.
“The aging population is growing, and I think it's important to understand the experience of older adults and the challenges that they face. It helps you be more patient, understanding, and leads to better outcomes,” said Christina, a 2024 PharmD candidate at the University of Arizona R. Ken Coit College of Pharmacy.
Christina interacts with older adults every day in her internship at a community pharmacy, and her conversations with these customers are a big part of what makes her job rewarding.
“I see older adults frequently at the pharmacy, as they are often treating chronic conditions and might be taking multiple medications. This has opened my eyes to the many challenges older adults face,” she explained. “Doing this work, it has become clear to me that there is room for improvement in how we serve older adults in pharmacy settings.”
This realization, along with inspiration from her professor Jeannie Lee, PharmD, BCPS, BCGP, FASHP, compelled Christina to complement the education she is receiving in her PharmD courses by co-enrolling in the interdisciplinary Innovations in Aging graduate certificate program, which explores local and worldwide challenges to provide students foundational knowledge of gerontology and strategies for how to implement innovations in their careers. Dr. Lee, Assistant Dean of Student Services and Associate Professor at the College of Pharmacy, is one of the faculty members from the Arizona Center on Aging who developed the program last year.
Initially, the flexibility of the Innovations in Aging graduate certificate program was a major draw for Christina. She appreciates that the fully online, asynchronous courses allow her to learn on her own timeline, around her busy schedule. She also enjoys the bite-sized nature of the five-week, one-credit classes that cover topics such as ethical considerations in human aging, sociocultural and diversity perspectives, psychological and biological perspectives, and interprofessional communication.
“I like that the Innovations in Aging courses are short and quick. You really learn a lot in a small amount of time.”
— Christina Meridew, 2024 PharmD Candidate and Innovations in Aging Student
However, the thing that Christina enjoys most about the program is the collaboration and communication between students from different disciplines.
“Everyone is learning similar material from a different perspective, so it's nice to read other students' interpretations on our discussion boards,” said Christina. “I am looking at things through the lens of pharmacy, but it is interesting to hear perspectives from medicine or nursing, for example.”
After she earns her graduate certificate in Innovations in Aging, which will allow her to apply for professional certification through the National Association of Gerontological Professionals, Christina plans to keep her career options open.
“I have not decided on my next step after graduation. But there will certainly be older adults in my population wherever I end up working as a pharmacist, so I know the education I am receiving is going to be beneficial.”
To learn more about the University of Arizona’s 13-credit, fully online Innovations in Aging graduate certificate program visit innovationsinaging.uahs.arizona.edu.