Colorado recap . . .

Well, it’s looking more and more like I’ll be sticking around Baltimore next year. . . and I have a lot of peace about that.  I’ve officially turned down the opportunity in San Diego (NOT an easy thing to do!), and another great job opportunity at a VA hospital in Pennsylvania (uh, who’s even HEARD of Lebanon, PA?)

I think the conference last week helped me really piece together a lot of things – not the least of which was this whole idea about teaching.  And honestly, sticking around the MD State system really helps me explore a lot of that.  Not only am I familiar w/ the system, but my bos is THE Ray Love (one of the top psych pharmacists in the world!) – so working under him a bit longer could hardly hurt!  And there are a plethora of teaching and precepting opportunities here.

So without further ado, some obligatory pics of last week’s fun!

Here’s one of the magnificent Broadmoor Hotel, where I stayed.  Seriousl gorgeous!

Here’s my loverly roomie, Kelly.  I’ve talked ad nauseum about her before – as she was my first preceptor during the residency, and heas been not only a great mentor/teacher, but the funnest friend!

The conference was hardly just work.  There was plenty time in the evenings for fun n’ games!  Here’s some of the MD psych pharmacists chillin’ at the bar.  Notice that my friend Joan took to the task of ordering a yard of beer . . . that’s right, I said a YARD of beer!  It took Joan, Kelly, and I to take out that yard (and I don’t think we even finished it!  But it certainly was fun trying!  Even if the walk home was a bit tricky to master )

 
 
 
 
And what conference would be complete without a really cool BANQUET to celebrate what a fantabulous, smart group of people we all are?!!  I think it was here that the University of MD – University of SoCal psych pharmacy alliance was forged.  Those USC folks were sooooo cool!  It was a great opportunity to network and get to know some really accomplished people at several stages of life.
 
  
 
 
 

Academia?

Have you ever felt “called’ to something?  Perhaps “drawn” is a better word. 

I’m just thinking about these distinct moments in my life where my future plans become definitive.  It’s as if my perspective is broadened in this singular moment in time, and disparate pieces of the puzzle are seemingly joined together. 

It happened when I decided to pursue a career in pharmacy.  Few people realize how miraculous this decision was, because few knew that I worked as a pharmacy clerk at Giant Pharmacy in Fort Washington, MD as a senior in high school.  And fewer still know how much I absolutely loathed that job.  After quitting, I vowed to never step foot in a pharmacy again.  It was months before I was even able to go into one of those large chain grocery stores, and not wretch at the very sight of the pharmacy!

Yet, in my junior year of college, I found myself soul-searching to discover what career this biochem major should pursue considering I was disenchanted with research, and incapable of med school (I’m revolted by cadavers, and bodily fluids, and the like).  One fateful evening, after the assistant dean of my current school gave a talk about pharmacy careers at an allied health career fair, It just clicked: I should pursue pharmacy.

And here I am.  Similar moments of clarity have occurred as well, like when deciding which school to attend, which type of pharmacy practice to pursue, etc.

And I may have had another defining point earlier this week at the CPNP Conference.  I fear to even announce it publically, as this career plan is merely in its nascent stages of development.  But it struck me as I was surrounded by so many academicians who had strong clinical practices – that these are the people I’ve always been drawn to the most in my exposure to pharmacy.  Perhaps there’s a reason for that?  Perhaps I seem to come alive when I’m teaching because I might very well be meant to be a . . . *gasp!* teacher?

I’ve always run far, FAR away from academic pursuits!  One of my mentors here for years has been egging me on to be a teacher, but I’ve always been dismissive of his suggestions. 

Even during this residency, I’ve had SO many opportunities to teach, and I have begrudgingly taken to those tasks.  I think I’ve discussed with several of you how much I hate the feeling of being judged by students.  Every time I open my mouth, it’s as if I can see the gerbil wheel churning inside students’ heads as they think “wow, he’s such an idiot”, “goodness, he hasn’t a clue what he’s talking about!”, and other such diatribes.

Not to mention all the preparation!  Good LORD!  Do you know how long it takes to prepare a Power Point presentation for a simple, one-hour lecture? 

Yet, at the same time, I admit that there’s this electric feeling in the air when I’m interacting with students.  And somehow, I just feel drawn to this.  I don’t know why it’s clicking now.  I don’t know where it’s coming from.  But I do know that the more I think aboout sticking around here at the school of pharmacy – the more I like the idea of seeking an associate faculty position (which would allow me significant time as a clinician, with about 20-30% of my time devoted to teaching and precepting).

Hmmm . . . I’m gonna continue to pray about this.  It would be a significant shift in my career goals, and could very well eventually lead me to doing much more teaching than what I envision right now.

Anyway, I gotta go.  Gonna head down to the Harbor and meet Christy and Jamie for dinner!

One love, baby!

D.J.

Contemplating Celibacy in Colorado. . .

I’ve been thoroughly enjoying this CPNP (College of Psychiatric and Neurologic Pharmacists) Conference.  It’s revitalized my passion for my chosen career.  Not only has my mind been engaged, as I’ve thought about all the wonderful ways the Kingdom is advanced by this field, but my heart has been engaged as well.  It’s been a long time since I’ve felt . . . well, felt anything concerning my job.  I’ve been so bogged down by assignments I don’t want to do, and deadlines I don’t have time to meet, that I’ve lost all joy in that which I spend the majority of my time doing.

But this conference has reminded me of what it’s all about.

It’s also given me the opportunity to make some really cool connections w/ folks I haven’t had the chance to hang out with very often.  I’m rooming w/ my friend Kelly.  She was my first preceptor for my first rotation of the residency.  We’ve been having a blast!

Some of these lectures and symposia have been really good too!  Amazingly thought-provoking.  I attended one lecture earlier this morning about a subject we clinicians tend to forget about: the importance of sleep, exercise, nutrition, and hormones on clinical outcomes.  The speaker said a lot of things that made sense to me (though, she had little data to back up her theories – but I think she’s onto something nonetheless).

One thing she mentioned though was how vital attraction and attachment are for normal brain functioning.  She mentioned how sexual activity is such an important aspect to our health, b/c of the release of neurotransmitters (e.g., dopamine) and chemicals (e.g., oxytocin) that keep us in good moods, and maintain proper brain neurochemical balance. 

I’m not sure why it struck me so much.  It really wasn’t the major point she was driving home.  But it got me to thinking about how true this research is to my own life.  I begin to understand why I’m so unhappy as a single person.  I’m made for connection, for relationship – and my body’s God-made response (i.e., release of mood-altering neurotransmitters and chemicals) is a sign of this.  The older I get, the more I see why the Bible is replete with the notion that “it is not good for man to be alone”.

I’ve been curious about this idea of celibacy for quite sometime.  I’ve never seriously thought about it as an option for myself.  In fact, I think that I simply would never be healthy nor happy as a single man for the rest of my life.  But I’ve always thought that celibacy is a special calling, if you will – something NOT meant for the majority of human kind.  Neuroscience seems to be agreeing with me.  I think I’m gonna dig further into some of this research

Anyway, enough rambling for now.  I’m doing pretty well.  I’ve met a few “friends” who’ve made the time here quite enjoyable.  A couple of them very cute.  Fear not . . . I’m behaving myself . . . mostly

Colorado . . .

So I’m in James Dobson’s backyard: Colorado Springs, CO.  Funny, he probably doesn’t like “my kind” here very much.  I’m thinking of making up some gay marriage signs and going to protest all by my lonesome in front of the Focus on the Family building

I’m staying at the Broadmoor.  Wow, what a GORGEOUS place!  My room has a view of the Rockies   And our accomodations?  Truly exceptional!  I can’t believe I don’t even have to pay for this!  I LOVE work conferences! (I’m at the year’s big psych pharmacy conference.)

*Sigh*  But it’s not all roses, ya know?  I’m feeling a bit off.  I guess I should have expected this, b/c I always get  a bit emo when I travel.  Especially when I travel to beautiful places.  It’s just this sick (yet strong) reminder that I’m alone, and have no one to share this with  

In times past, this has led me to getting into some precarious positions.  Fortunately, I’ve never done anything I regret – but I’m a bit more disinhibited these days.  But then again, I also have a much stronger sense of what I’m looking for: real intimacy.  It takes time to find and build that – I just hope I can be a patient boy and not do anything silly while I’m here.

Anywho, I’ll be back in action Wednesday, so I’ll “see” all you folks then!  Pray for me if you think of me, and I’ll do the same for you.

 

Peace and love,
D.J. Free!

San Diego . . .

Back in December, I heard about a psych pharm job in San Diego.  I immediately requested more information, and was told that they would be interviewing at Midyear (big, annual pharmacy convention).  I was kicking myself for missing Midyear this year!

A few weeks later, I inquired further about the job – wondering if they had hired anyone form Midyear.  Apparently, they had offered the job to someone, and were waiting to hear back from her.  That was about a month ago.  I heard nothing back from them, so I scratched SD off my list of possible job searches.

Then on Friday, I get an email telling me to expect a call sometime this week.  I spoke with the director of pharmacy about a very nice, very lucrative position!  It’s at a fairly small psych hospital (at least small for me, since I’m used to MD’s large, state facilities).  This place has 7 units, 150 beds.  I’d be doing a small bit of dispensing (which I’m glad to do, actually – about an hour a day), but lots of clinical stuff, including tons of rounding with the units’ teams, lab monitoring, drug recommendations, DURs, and the like.  And did I mention the salary??  Wow.  Very nice!  (Though, when you consider the cost of living in SD . . . )

Anywho, this brings up anew the question of: “how important are relationships to you?”  Last year around this time, I met a soon-to-be college graduate, who was trying to figure out her life.  Even though I knew very little about her, I looked her square in the face, and spoke with such supreme confidence, it surprised me: “Emily, build your life around relationships, not jobs.”

Now I wonder if I’ll follow my own wisdom?  I mean, there’s something to be said for living an adventure, right?  You certainly learn TONS about yourself, right?  And who the hell wouldn’t love living in one of the most beautiful cities in the U.S.?   Yet, I find myself returning to “but who will be there for you to share it with?”  My friends, my family, my church – all my loves – they are here.  Why would I stray?

Life is interesting, no?  I’ll be taking votes now

Fear and Beauty . . .

I stole this from Christy, but thought it was a great truism from that sage Rilke:

“Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love.” Rilke. Letter 8.

Beautiful.  Profound.  It summarizes so much of what I’ve been wrestling with lately: fear.  All these fears I have.  And for what?  What purpose do they serve?  What am I actually afraid of?  In the end, I always discover that that which I fear the most is hardly worth the emotional energy I put into it. 

I want to live my life embracing Beauty. Life.Vibrancy.Color.Truth.