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  • Christy Cheung

Where Do I Begin?

Updated: Jan 16, 2019

2018 has been a year of self-discovery. My first exposure to the idea of healthcare technology came from attending UBC’s Hatching Health competition. Since then, I have been exploring this rapidly growing area with an ambition to make a career out of it. The more research I do and the more people I talk to, the more fascinated I get about how to leverage technology to improve healthcare delivery to patients on a global scale. It is incredible how much already exists out there, and still, there are infinite more ideas that have yet to manifest. The field of digital health is gaining steam. People are beginning to recognize the value of merging healthcare and technology, but it is not as easy as it may sound. As a student still, I wonder from time to time, whether I can truly pursue a career in this field. I have a passion to innovate and to learn about technology, but is that enough? I have seen that it is an uphill battle for many entrepreneurs to bring their ideas to the forefront, but I ultimately believe it is a worthwhile uphill climb, and I wanted to share some learning experiences from the past year.


Through LinkedIn, I have had the great fortune of (virtually) meeting pharmacists and healthcare professionals across North America. These are individuals who have taken a leap of faith to pursue unconventional paths. I wanted to hear their stories and to learn their perspectives. Do not be afraid to do the same for yourselves. Each of these individuals has had a unique journey and they continue to persevere. They have courageously carved out their own career paths. You would be surprised to find out what and how much is out there by talking to them.


Connect with like-minded individuals.

(LinkedIn makes it easy to do just that)


In my own journey, I have been struggling with figuring out my niche in healthcare technology. The entire realm seems to fascinate me. Where do we even start? Without being in the field, we have to be realistic with ourselves. We have to recognize that we may not have the same perspectives as a practicing clinician, and maybe, we should take advantage of ‘being a student’, and expose ourselves to as many opportunities as we can. Many people are happy to offer their mentorship.


Find yourself a community of colleagues and mentors who shares your vision to improve healthcare


I have realized that there is a wonderful community of like-minded individuals with a vision to bring creativity to healthcare. You might find that they are scattered across the globe in vastly different roles, but in their own way, they are continually innovating, either as intrapreneurs or as entrepreneurs. From recent graduates to pharmacists with experience practicing in a variety of settings, there are people out there who are excited for you and will support you in your journey to build your unique career, whatever that may be.


To give you an idea of where some of my pharmacist colleagues work, I will share a few brief descriptions:


Kalyann Kauv is a clinical pharmacist at Anthem, an American health insurance company. After graduating from Virginia Commonwealth University, she pursued a residency in managed care. This type of residency involves a research project, in which students may analyze epidemiological data, evaluate current healthcare programs, and introduce new strategies for better healthcare intervention. Healthcare spending has grown substantially in the United States and the fragmentation among institutions makes it challenging and unsustainable. At Anthem, she works as a clinical pharmacist on the Medicaid Pharmacy Quality Programs team, with the goal of supporting Anthem Medicaid health plans across the country. Their team does so by strategically identifying members who have or are at-risk for gaps in care of certain chronic conditions, and then creating a pharmacy intervention (or clinical program) to address this need. Ultimately, the goal is to improve quality of care for vulnerable populations in a cost-effective manner.


David Vu is a quality assurance engineer at Kit Check, a company with a focus to optimize pharmacy operations within hospital settings. When he was a student, he recognized the flexibility of the pharmacy profession and sought to explore unique rotations to combine his clinical knowledge with abstract thinking. He worked as a clinical informatics intern at Centra Health, where he educated physicians on electronic prescribing. He created a scoring system in EPIC to guide clinicians on converting medications from IV to PO. David has vast experience analyzing health data to improve clinical decision procedures; his expertise in health informatics has made him an integral member at his company today. Kit Check brings automation technology to health institutions to reduce operational costs and to increase time available to focus on patient care. While he works for a team primarily made up of technical experts, he uses his clinical skills to evaluate health information and to create more efficient strategies for pharmacy systems.


Matt Paterini is currently the regional director at Contract Guardian, a company that helps healthcare organizations organize and manage their administrative needs through their own cloud-based software program. Even before pharmacy school, he had an interest for merging healthcare, business, and technology. Upon graduating from the University of Michigan, he took part in IBM’s Global Sales School, a program that teaches its students how to best leverage their formal training to support their clients’ businesses. As one of the few healthcare professionals participating in this program, he was responsible for managing the accounts of large healthcare institutions, local hospitals, and pharmaceutical companies. Beyond his experiences in bridging healthcare and business, he has a passion to give back to students. He is the cofounder of The Nontraditional Pharmacist, a platform that connects pharmacy students with pharmacists in nontraditional pharmacy careers. TNP offers podcasts, reading material, and networking opportunities to support students in building a career path most suitable for them.


First jobs are frightening. Career switches are equally frightening. It is perfectly human to be scared, but trust in your curiosities and continue pursuing them.


These three individuals, and many more, have been incredibly encouraging. Hearing their stories has made me less frightened to take the path less traveled. Do not afraid to reach out to people who inspire you.


Thank you very much for reading. Happy Holidays to all!

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