academic and career background
I am seeking admission to the PhD in Pharmacy at the XXX. I am choosing the Ph.D track in search for autonomy and intellectual excellence as my long term goal is to be actively involved with research and teaching in an area that I love. My main research interests lie in pharmacoepidemiology and pharmacoeconomics. Specifically, I am interested in learning more about medication use and safety in elderly people with chronic conditions and healthcare resource utilization and costs.
The first time I came across pharmacoepidemiology was in my second year of Pharmacy school at XXX. During a social pharmacy class, we were discussing the infamous "thalidomide disaster" and how epidemiologic studies attributed the increased incidence of phocomelia in the 1960s to in utero exposure to thalidomide. Afterwards, I remember wondering how much of current medical practice stands on shaky evidence. As a result, I became absorbed with epidemiologic studies and medication use in the population rather than the individual level. In the following years I took on several courses such as pharmacoeconomics, pharmacovigilance, and public health that got me more interested in outcomes research.
Building on my exposure to these classes, I enrolled in a Masters of Research program focused on pharmacoepidemiology and clinical pharmacy at the XXX. Here, I gained deeper knowledge of epidemiological tools, research methodologies, and statistical modelling. I also had the opportunity to assist in a national cross sectional epidemiological study in XXX. I collected data from 29 pharmacies in XXX on antifungal treatment and advice patterns used by community pharmacists in patients with vulvovaginal candidiasis (VVC). I spent two weeks helping survey the region, and afterwards helped aggregate data I gathered with those collected by coworkers from other parts of the country and cleaned the compiled dataset.
My notebook from that experience has many questions. "How adherent are pharmacists to infectious diseases guidelines when dispensing medications?", "What are the consequences of inappropriate antifungal prescribing on patients?" and "How reliable are the data I am gathering?". Pharmacoepidemiology appealed to me as a way of answering those questions.
My coursework and assistantship equipped me with content knowledge and technical expertise that would later be instrumental for completing my master's thesis. Under the guidance of Prof. XXX, I designed and performed a cross sectional study surveying 390 XXX older adults to investigate their level of stroke awareness. My aim was not only to assess current knowledge in the older population, but to also explore its relation to actions taken when suspecting stroke occurrence, as this would influence the time needed to reach hospitals and consequent health outcomes. The survey exposed significant gaps in stroke awareness and showed - through multivariate logistic analyses - diabetics had greater odds of taking wrong actions when suspecting stroke. This experience strengthened several of my research skills. Most importantly, I learned how to deal with the many unexpected obstacles when executing research protocols such as issues in data collection and data management. My dissertation received the highest grade given in my cohort, and was displayed at the XXX epidemiological association annual conference. The study is currently being reviewed by the Journal of XXX.
I interviewed many older adults for my project, asking about what chronic medical conditions they have and the treatments they receive. More than half of the surveyed population were taking four or more medications daily. In fact, a correlation existed between taking more medications and the tendency to state stress as a risk factor for stroke. This did not surprise me since, as a community pharmacist, a large portion of pharmaceutical care interventions that I performed regularly were for elderly patients. In the future I would like to investigate how polypharmacy affects health outcomes such as quality of life in older adults, the interventions that are most effective in mitigating consequences of polypharmacy such as non-adherence and adverse drug effects, and the economic effects of polypharmacy.
In addition to my experience in research and working as a community pharmacist, I have privately tutored students for over five years. While pursuing my bachelor's degree, I gave lessons in science and math to middle and high school students at first, and then in pharmacology and therapeutics to pharmacy students later. Though challenging, I found teaching incredibly rewarding. Not only did tutorship help me make a real difference in my students' outcomes, it also helped me develop the skills needed to communicate my own research more effectively. In the next spring semester, I plan to assist in teaching a drug literature class at XXX to help guide pharmacy students on searching for drug information.
I am enthusiastic about the prospect of doing research at XXX. XXX is exactly the type of institution I am looking for, with its high academic reputation and exceptional resources including collaborations with health care institutions, pharmaceutical organizations, and renowned faculty. I am drawn to the XXX PhD program because of its multidisciplinary nature drawing from economics, epidemiology, public health, and education. This would be good for me because my interests are broad. Furthermore, the XXX (CPR) at the Department of Pharmacy is home to top researchers with interests that closely match mine. XXX's recent publication that showed polypharmacy can lead to depressive symptoms and XXX's extensive research in health related quality of life using the XXX are topics that fascinate me.
I should mention that my undergraduate degree was a Bachelors of Pharmacy, a five year professional degree that allows for pharmacy practice in all clinical settings. The program is accredited by the XXX council for accreditation of pharmacy programs and the language of instruction is in English. In addition, though my undergraduate CGPA is 3.43/4.00, my GPA for the last two years of my degree is 3.84.
My prior individual research experiences were quantitative in nature, relying in statistical analysis techniques common to pharmacoepidemiologic research. I have experience in designing research protocols and taking on the challenges that may arise when implementing them. I also have sufficient course work history in epidemiology and biostatistics to be able to make the leap to more advanced quantitative techniques given access to graduate courses on the subject. I feel that graduate study at your university will be the most logical extension of my academic pursuits and a major step towards achieving my long term objectives of producing impactful research in an academic setting.