Kristal Cunningham

PharmD, Clinical pharmacist Osceola Regional Medical Center

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The world needs you.

What do you do?

As a clinical pharmacist in the hospital setting, I am the drug expert and responsible for ensuring the safety and appropriateness of all medications prescribed to patients in the hospital. I review drug therapy to make sure it is appropriate, monitor patients’ prescriptions for drug interactions, and counsel patients on new medications. I serve as a resource for clinical staff, and patients educating them on drug safety, appropriate use, and provide recommendations for best practices in drug therapy. When requested, I also monitor therapeutic drug levels, dose medications, and adjust treatment as necessary. A large portion of my responsibilities also deals with ensuring that medications are stored, handled, and used appropriately to prevent adverse outcomes. Simply put, I am a walk, talking, drug reference, and safety expert, and I work hard to make sure patients receive the best and safest medication treatments available!

Why did you choose this field?

I have always been interested in science, math, and health, and early on, I knew I wanted my career to be in one of those areas. I think my initial desire to be a pharmacist stemmed from observing my cousin in her career as a pharmacist. As I got older, I became more aware of how essential the role of a pharmacist was. The level of impact that a pharmacist could have on not just providing medications but also preventing illness and helping others maintain their health. I learned that pharmacists were an integral part of healthcare and could work in areas outside of retail. Once I realized they could specialize in specific areas of medicine, and could also work in the research and development of medications, I knew this would be a great career path for me.

What do you look at and think, "I wish younger me would have known this was possible"?

I think my younger self was shy and reserved and had the tendency to allow fear to keep her from taking opportunities. She would be delighted to learn what I have been able to accomplish despite fear. I was the very first pharmacy practice resident at my hospital. I help to develop our pharmacy practice residency and later went on to serve as a preceptor for future residents and pharmacy students and con-investigator on several research projects, many of which were published in national publications and presented at national conferences. Today I am using my background in science and clinical pharmacy to help propel me toward my purpose. In addition to being a clinical pharmacist, I am also an entrepreneur and business owner, using my love of science to empower Black women to feel beautiful and be confident. As an adult, I am coming into my own. I wished my younger, shy self would have been more aware of the power she possessed and the things she could accomplish. I'm not necessarily any less afraid; I'm just more determined to push through the fear to the many possibilities that await.

Why do you love working in STEM?

It is fun! Science and healthcare are always changing and evolving. We are finding better ways to care for people and improve their health and well being. I get to be a part of that daily. Whether I’m educating a patient, interacting with members of the healthcare team, or learning about new treatments, I am having a positive impact on someone’s life. To me, that is amazing and very rewarding.

Best advice for next generation?

The world needs you. There is not one aspect of our lives that is not influenced by STEM. You have an amazing opportunity to help create the future and leave your mark on the world. The possibilities are endless. A background in STEM will allow you to create a career in anything from beauty to technology, education to engineering, music to aerospace science, healthcare, and everything in between. The world is changing, gender roles are shifting, and some things that we never thought possible are happening. I believe the world needs women like me and you and propel it towards a brighter future. STEM is just the beginning and a great launchpad to help you change and shape the world.

Inspo quote / fun fact / role model

You don’t have to be fearless, learn to fear less, and let nothing stop you in the pursuit of your dreams!

NOMINATE a woman in STEM

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