Gamecocks on the Go: Student pharmacists reflect on summer internship and fellowship
experiences of Summer 2022
Tell us about your summer internship experience:
“My summer internship was with the FDA within the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research’s
Office of Pharmacology. My supervisor and colleagues on the Pediatrics team were incredible
mentors. The project I was assigned to involved sorbitol’s effect as an excipient
in oral liquid formulation products indicated for pediatric patients. This involved
developing further research methods for the project, along with collecting data from
package inserts and recording dosing calculations. It was such a unique experience
to see how pharmacists work with other professions to ensure proper drug review for
products currently in development.”
What did your typical day look like as a pharmacy intern?
“Depending on the day of week, I would work on different projects, but my typical
day consisted of attending meetings, researching and conducting data analysis for
the project, reading articles to present for journal clubs, researching products currently
in development to provide pediatric specific recommendations, or writing summary and
analysis pieces on current publications related to pediatric health care. The flexibility
of my hybrid schedule also allowed me to attend the webinars that Health and Human
Services puts together for pharmacy students on internships and rotations at the FDA.
I was able to hear from pharmacists at Indian Health Services, Bureau of Prisons,
and other offices within the FDA and Commissioned Corps.”
What was the most memorable moment from your internship?
“Picking one most memorable moment from my internship is hard, but there are two that
stick out to me the most.
The first was spending the day kayaking on the Potomac River with CAPT Juliette Taylor
and learning about what she does at the FDA Office of New Drugs and in the Commissioned
Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service. CAPT Taylor was a connection made through
networking at the SCPhA’s Women in Pharmacy Leadership Conference this past year.
She was also a founding mother of my sorority, Alpha Sigma Rho, so getting to connect
from an Asian American perspective as well as from a health professional perspective
was priceless to me.
The second was the 2022 FDA Student Scientific Research Day. Typically, this day is
a chance for each student to present the research they have been working on, but because
of the pandemic, our abstracts were all published together on the FDA website. Seeing
the work I had been doing published alongside every office and division’s incredible
findings was really special to me as well.”
What knowledge and skills did you gain from this experience?
“I hadn’t done an official journal club before this experience, so getting to present
those every week helped my analytical skills, both for science and for policy since
the articles ranged from discussing legislation passed in Congress to new modeling
methods to best extrapolate data for higher risk populations. I learned a lot about
the specifics of drug development pathways and what reviewers are looking for in each
product awaiting approval.”
Would you recommend this internship to pharmacy students in the future?
“I would highly recommend this internship to pharmacy students as it provides a health
care perspective from a birds-eye view while utilizing the clinical skills we learn
from our classes. Regardless of the career path you’re interested in, this internship
gives a great in-depth look at what FDA does to better our drug products on the market
and set the standard on a global level.”
Beyond the actual internship, what other perks or learning opportunities did you enjoy
“Outside of the internship itself, I really enjoyed being in the Washington D.C. area.
In my free time, I was able to visit incredible museums and restaurants in the area
and get to know to the other interns. My co-intern, Amber Glenn, was APhA-ASP chapter
president at the University of Oklahoma and I met students from pharmacy schools in
California and Michigan. In addition, I was able to see one of our Gamecock pharmacy
alums, Meg Murphy.”
What’s next for you?
“I’m definitely trying to make the most of my last didactic year. I’m excited to continue
working at Nephron as well as being a part of the initiatives that APhA-ASP, Phi Delta
Chi, and SSHP are pursuing this year. I have also been working with other students
to bring the Industry Pharmacists Organization to our campus, which received provisional
approval this semester. I’m on a research team with Dr. Almgren at Nephron, continuing
research with Dr. Teng to develop a manuscript, and hopefully working with Dr. Yunusa
to learn more about drug development from a clinical perspective!”
About Nikki Chen
Nikki Chen is a third-year pharmacy student at the UofSC College of Pharmacy from
Columbia, South Carolina. She is interested in pursuing a career in pharmaceutical
industry or regulatory affairs with a focus on justice, diversity, equity and inclusion.
During the school year, Nikki works as an intern at Nephron Pharmaceuticals Corporation.
She is a Walker Leadership Scholar for the Class of 2024.
Topics: Student Experience, Pharm.D. Program