KINGSTON, R.I.– May 12, 2016– “Health care is always changing, always improving, and there is always someone who knows more about a field,” said Gregory Kelly, of Mantua, N.J., who will earn his doctor of pharmacy degree at the University of Rhode Island May 22.
“So it is hard to be confident in pharmacy, but it in a good way– a way that makes you realize you need other people in the field and hospital,” said Kelly, who is about to complete his six-year program.
“I deeply appreciate the experience I have had at URI, not just academically, but culturally,” said Kelly.
Kelly’s attraction to pharmacy began during his childhood when he was exposed to the field through his family’s friend. That early exposure to the pharmacist’s world made it easy for him to enroll at URI.
And URI has been a great fit for Kelly. His extensive research and poster collaborations, as well as internship skills he developed, are examples of the breadth of his work at the University.
Kelly’s research and presentations focused on medication use in elderly patients. In addition to URI faculty members, he worked alongside the family medicine and internal medicine residents at the Memorial Hospital of Rhode Island in Pawtucket.
“Memorial Hospital’s outpatients clinics serve a significant number of elderly patients in which adverse effects of anticholinergic medications, a variety of medications used to treat gastrointestinal, respiratory and other conditions, which can cause confusion, sleepiness, blurred vision and can be the most dangerous,” said Kelly. “Evaluating the burden posed by anticholinergic medications in these patients was a good way for me as a student to learn more about managing complex medication regimens. The project also provided us with feedback about how well the residents and physicians were doing to avoid unnecessary use of anticholinergic medications.”
In general, Kelly said the presentations he prepared on this research allowed him to present information on critical health topics to national audiences.
“By developing the key facts and summarizing them on my posters, I have been able to develop my research and patient care skills, while also being able to share my ideas and findings with pharmacists across the nation,” said Kelly.
During his clinical rotations at Memorial Hospital, Kelly said there was a heavy emphasis on an inter-professional model within the hospital that allowed him to learn and work with an array of staff and doctors.
“One thing I discovered during my rotations is how much I value the opportunity to work with teams,” stated Kelly. “My interests lie primarily in inpatient medicine/acute care. A big part of the reason I really enjoy these areas is because of the opportunity to work as a team in these settings.”
During an internship at The Johns Hopkins Hospital, in Baltimore, Md., he conducted research and gave presentations on developing the teaching skills of pharmacy residents.
When he wasn’t conducting research and going to conferences, Kelly raised money for Doctors Without Borders, coordinated blood drives, was a member of the Student Alumni Association and the Feinstein Enriching America Program at URI.
Kelly said the pharmacy faculty was a key part of his success.
“I believe our program does well with a work and life balance because our faculty are such good models of that exact mantra. They are not just professors, they have families and other hobbies aside from their work that shows you while a career is important, it’s not everything,” said Kelly. “What I’ve really taken away from this program is that it is important to be well-rounded. “
Kelly was able to do just that when he was given the opportunity to study abroad in Florence, Italy his sophomore year. The trip allowed him to branch out, meet new friends, try new foods, learn a new culture and learn the importance of being able to adapt to a new environment.
While in Italy, he learned to cook and learned about the importance of balancing food and exercise. This prompted him to work as a campus representative for the “MyPlate” program at URI, an initiative sponsored nationally by the US Department of Agriculture.
“I became a part of it because it offers a lot of really great teaching resources and ideas for helping to advocate for healthy eating,” mentioned Kelly, “I thought this would be a great thing to bring to my residents seeing how troubling and dangerous unhealthy eating habits can become later in life.”
What Kelly will miss the most at URI, is the sense of community. Being from out of state, Kelly enjoyed that fact that he could rely on seeing someone he knew anywhere on campus from the various different communities he was involved in during his time at the University. “This was something I learned not to take for granted and I really appreciated once I became involved in the community at URI,” Kelly reflected.
As he wraps up his rich education and experiences at URI, he looks forward to his pharmacy residency with Baptist Memorial Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., starting in June.
This release was written by, Rachel Smith, graduate assistant writer for the Marketing and Communications Department.
Photo by Nora Lewis