American College of Clinical Pharmacy
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ACCP Report - January 2019

ACCP Member Spotlight: Alex Flannery

Alexander Flannery, Pharm.D., BCCCP, BCPS, graduated from the University of Kentucky (UK) College of Pharmacy in 2011. After completing his PGY1 residency at the Medical University of South Carolina, he returned to UK HealthCare to complete his PGY2 residency in critical care. Flannery is board certified in pharmacotherapy and critical care. He has completed the ACCP Research and Scholarship Certificate Program and is currently a Ph.D. candidate in clinical and translational science at the University of Kentucky.

Flannery’s primary appointment is currently as a critical care pharmacist in the medical intensive care unit (MICU) at UK HealthCare, where he routinely precepts pharmacy residents and students. He is also program director for the PGY2 critical care residency at UK HealthCare. Flannery’s academic appointment is as an assistant adjunct professor in the Department of Pharmacy Practice and Science in the University of Kentucky College of Pharmacy. He maintains an active research practice, working with residents, students, and his own investigator-initiated research on pharmacotherapy issues in critically ill patients. According to Flannery:

While I may have had no idea what a clinical pharmacist did when I entered pharmacy school, once I started the second semester of the curriculum, I began to see the thousands of ways that a pharmacist could optimize drug therapy in patients across the spectrum of care. As I progressed through clinical rotations, I loved the privilege and the challenge of communicating about ways to optimize drug therapy to patients, physicians, and other health care providers. Being torn between critical care, infectious diseases, and internal medicine, I fittingly found my home in medical critical care in the MICU practice setting. I love the challenge of having to use every tool in my tool kit, whether it’s antibiotic stewardship, pharmacokinetic monitoring, anticoagulation, toxicology, or whatever happens to arise in the MICU on any given day. I am constantly learning and being humbled at what all I have yet to learn and at the power of advanced medical care provided by interdisciplinary teams. I embrace the chance of having some evidence to base many pharmacotherapy decisions on, and the challenge of having to rely on physiologic and pharmacologic rationale and monitoring for others.

Faculty and colleagues at the University of Kentucky have had a tremendous influence on my career. From my formative days as a student, Joe Fink modeled and coached my leadership development. Kelly Smith taught me the power of professional organizations and networking. Several mentors during my residency training, Aaron Cook and Jeremy Flynn, have lent an ear and advised on no less than hundreds of matters in the past 7 years. My MICU physician colleagues have taught me how to reason clinically, prioritize, and advocate for patients. My Ph.D. mentor and MICU Division Chief Pete Morris has been a champion for my research and my overall career. I always tell people that Kentucky is a great place to start your career, and that is in no small part to the people like those above, with a vested interest in seeing you achieve your full potential.

Flannery notes that three pieces of advice have been instrumental in his early career. First, he describes seeking additional research training, whether in programs like those offered through ACCP or classes through universities, as the single best career move he has made since his residency. He says, “Whether or not you have an interest in being an investigator yourself, additional training in research gives you as a clinician the skills that you need in this day and age to read and critically evaluate the literature, subsequently optimizing care decisions for your patients.” Second, Flannery advises individuals very early in their career to almost never say “no” in the first few years when it comes to professional opportunities. “Whether it’s an opportunity within your institution or professional organization, saying ‘yes’ early on, even for something that you’re not entirely thrilled about, opens doors for you and introduces you to a host of colleagues and future opportunities.” Flannery’s last piece of advice stems from one of his favorite quotes in Randy Pausch’s The Last Lecture: “Experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted.”

For every successful leadership position appointed to and manuscript accepted, there are always an equal or greater number of less successful moments where the result wasn’t what we wanted. Those are great chances not only for us to reflect and take something away from the experience, but [also] for us to share with our mentees how to be open about failure, the lessons learned from it, and the importance of resilience in our careers.


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