Featuring: Urooj K. Malik, PharmD Candidate c/o 2024
By: Isabelle Lim, PharmD Candidate c/o 2024
Urooj is a sixth-year pharmacy student at St. John’s University. Throughout her time at St. John’s Urooj has held positions in organizations like the American Association of Psychiatric Pharmacists, Phi Lambda Sigma, International Society of Pharmacoeconomics & Outcomes, Lambda Kappa Sigma, and Rho Chi Post. She has also been involved in research projects focusing on the idea of provider status for pharmacists in collaboration with Dr. Rajesh Nayak, a professor at St. John’s University College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. Her first project focused on investigating pharmacists’ involvement in COVID-19-related services during the pandemic and the implications for the expansion of the scope of practice within New York State (NYS). Upon the completion of her first project, Urooj got to present her results at the Midyear Clinical Meeting in 2022. Following the completion of this study, Urooj went on to focus on pharmacy students where she evaluated the awareness and knowledge of NYS pharmacy students regarding provider status and the implications this might have for post-graduation planning. Now, Urooj is working with Dr. Nayak to evaluate institutional readiness for utilizing provider status to its maximal potential.
What does it mean to conduct research as a pharmacy student and how did you go about it?
Conducting research as a pharmacy student can have a multitude of definitions as there are so many paths students can take based on their individual interests. In other words, depending on the thesis of your research, the entire experience of how you conduct research can vary drastically. Also, people have varying methodologies that work for them to organize their thoughts and find evidence to back it — so what worked for me might not for someone else. Subsequently, the way that I approached my research was in different steps and stages as it is very important to have a structured approach or you can easily get lost in keeping track of your thought process. First and foremost, I would start with the ideation phase of just putting down what I know from first- or second-hand information that I have gathered over the years being in pharmacy school. Then, I would identify the key talking points or evidence that support my overall thesis based on the information that I know. Next, I would start collecting data points as well as expanding my initial talking points to see if there are any more supporting arguments I can use to solidify my logic behind the proposed thesis; this part of the process would entail accessing important research platforms, reviewing peer-reviewed journals, and analyzing any and all articles related to my subject matter. After I have collected enough data and conducted sufficient research on relevant and accessible documents, I would start putting forward a preliminary draft. An important thing to note here is that whenever conducting research of any kind, it is imperative to have a team of co-authors or editors to ensure your research piece is logically sound and concise without any grammatical errors. Lastly, with multiple rounds of reviews and edits by a group of credible individuals, it would be time to put pen and paper down and go through the submission process. As with any process in the world, there were unanticipated complications and challenges, however, this is an oversimplified version of what I had to do to conduct my research. As mentioned earlier, this is a process that worked for me but it might not work for everyone. Consequently, the best advice to counter that is to first figure out your method of working best and then begin your research.
Why did you want to pursue research?
I always wanted to pursue research because I greatly value the potential that pharmacy-related research can have when it comes to making significant advancements in healthcare and improving patient outcomes. My interest in research first sparked when I learned about provider status during my Pharmacy Law course. Dr. Nayak was the professor teaching that course at the time and I reached out to him wanting to learn more about provider status and why it isn’t being implemented in NYS. I also personally had a distinct interest in policy and advocacy within the pharmacy profession. After expressing interest to Dr. Nayak, we came up with the idea of conducting research on this topic as a team.
How did you feel going into your research projects and what did you get out of it?
Initially, being a pharmacy student alone can be quite a daunting task, and to imagine conducting lengthy research on top of that would certainly seem like an impossible challenge. I can attest that it does increase the workload but compared to the learning experience, it most definitely pays off. I believe that conducting research has helped me gain a deeper understanding not only of the pharmacy industry but of myself as a future pharmacist as well. There are non-analytical elements within every research project that will help you with developing your time management skills, learning to organize your priorities to stay ahead of deadlines, and getting familiar with situations where you have multiple projects to work on. In terms of analytical development, taking part in any research in whatever capacity you can helps with honing your critical thinking skills, learning how to navigate through industry-used databases, and structuring your analytical process similar to how a practicing pharmacist would. Overall, I would not sugar coat and say that it is easy to undertake a research project, however, with proper management and oversight, it can be instrumental in helping you develop as a professional.
What is the Midyear Clinical Meeting and why did you decide to attend?
The Midyear Clinical Meeting is a conference hosted by the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP). The conference is attended by thousands of pharmacy professionals and students from around the world, offering a variety of educational activities and career advancement opportunities. I decided to attend ASHP’s Midyear last year because I thought it would be a great opportunity for me to present my research project, explore career options, and engage with the pharmacy profession at a broader level. In the poster presentation, I was able to present my work on provider status and I received invaluable feedback from experts within the industry.
What did your timeline look like for completing your project and submitting an abstract for Midyear?
I do want to mention it’s important to note that the specific timeline can vary based on the nature and complexity of a project. For my project, the summer prior to the Midyear conference was when Dr. Nayak and I identified the topic of interest and determined the objectives. We also spent the remainder of the summer conducting literature reviews on provider status. In my case, the survey and data were already collected prior to the start of my project thanks to Dr. Elsen Jacob and her affiliation with the Coalition for the Advancement of Pharmacy Practice (CAP) who was also involved in this project. But typically, the next steps are to collect and analyze data. Moving into the start of the Fall semester was when we started drafting the abstract to submit to ASHP as the deadline to submit was October 1st. This deadline can change in the future so it’s important to check the ASHP Midyear conference website for the most up-to-date information on abstract submission. Once the abstract was submitted we did have a waiting period of a couple weeks so that the abstract could be reviewed and evaluated. Near the end of October was when I received an acceptance notification from ASHP with further instructions regarding presentation details and any additional requirements. From the point of acceptance to the start of the conference which was at the beginning of December, we were preparing for the presentation and drafting the poster that was going to be displayed at the conference. We aimed to have everything completed and printed a week prior to the conference, concluding our project.
What was the biggest challenge you faced in terms of carrying out your project and getting it ready for Midyear?
The project I worked on for Midyear was my first project ever in terms of conducting research. Because of this, I would say my biggest challenge on this project was learning the typical workflow and timeline for carrying out a project like this. For instance, with the research design, I struggled a bit initially when it came to determining the appropriate study design and selecting a feasible research question. However, these challenges were not insurmountable, especially with the guidance I received from Dr. Nayak as well as other experienced colleagues I collaborated with on this project. With their assistance, I was able to navigate through this project successfully.
What did you enjoy most about the entire process?
Personally, in this process, I would say the part I enjoyed the most was presenting my findings at the Midyear Clinical Meeting. I was really grateful for the opportunity to present my project at such an esteemed conference. Seeing all the work my faculty mentor, colleagues and I put in for the past 6 months come together was very rewarding. I also really enjoyed interacting with the professionals who stopped by at my poster presentation and valued the feedback I was given as I still implement the advice given to me after this project and will continue to do so in the future. Overall, I felt this was a great learning experience for me.
What advice would you give students that are looking to do a research project?
I would say not to feel hesitant to reach out to your professors about research. I myself was a little reluctant to ask about research opportunities but it’s important to remember to make the approach with the right mindset and preparation to increase your chances of success. Especially if you are taking a course with a professor and there’s a certain topic being covered that you’re interested in, don’t be afraid to take a chance and ask. Another piece of advice I would give is to manage your time wisely. Research projects often have strict timelines and deadlines that need to be reached. Especially when working on a project during the school year, taking courses and working, it can be difficult to manage multiple tasks.
On behalf of the Rho Chi Post, we would like to thank Urooj for sharing her experience with research and Midyear with our newsletter!