Pharmacy: It’s NOT a Small World

By Vincent Wartenweiler, PharmD Candidate


When I meet someone new and I tell them that I’m in pharmacy school, I usually get one of two responses. The most common is usually something along the lines of, “Wow! You must be really smart!” The second, somewhat irritating, response sounds like “Oh, so you’re going to work at *insert major chain retail pharmacy here* for the rest of your life?” What often follows the second response is a genuine conversation regarding the diverse career options available to current pharmacy graduates. Today’s pharmacists have many responsibilities beyond simply dispensing medication. Other critical roles pharmacists play include patient education, medication therapy management, and treatment adherence. From practice sites in ambulatory care, regulatory affairs, academia, research, and industry, to governmental positions within the FDA and CDC, pharmacists in this era are responsible for so much more than just refills of your pills.

My name is Vincent Wartenweiler and I am a second year PharmD student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Pharmacy. I am concurrently enrolled in a certificate program in the Fundamentals of Clinical Research through UW-Madison’s Institute for Clinical and Translation Research (ICTR). I earned a BS in Biochemistry from Carroll University in 2017. During my undergrad training, I was fortunate to participate in bench research locally at the Medical College of Wisconsin, and internationally at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow. Collectively, these experiences stimulated my scientific curiosity, but were far from the more clinical questions that I was interested in.

One of the biggest factors leading me to pharmacy was the natural inclination of the profession to unify science and healthcare. Furthermore, my aspiration to be in a highly trusted, instructional role also guided this career choice. This profession requires staying updated on the latest medications as well as studying research concerning investigational new drugs. The role I hope to serve in pharmacy stresses making medications safer for consumers, especially patients with chronic mental illnesses.

I am hoping to utilize my PharmD education to explore the role of the pharmacist in clinical research. The distinct lack of formalized training for clinical researchers unfortunately stagnates the discovery of novel medications, devices, and treatments. However, the clinical research certificate I am pursuing through ICTR is truly unique. Similar training programs are very hard to come by and this fact is what stimulated my enrollment in the clinical research certificate program. Currently, I am working with Cody Wenthur (PharmD, PhD) in the School of Pharmacy on a survey study to assess the ethical, practical, and therapeutic concerns of licensed Wisconsin pharmacists regarding the implementation of novel, adjunctive medication- and behaviorally-based addiction treatments across treatment populations.

My short-term goal is to earn a PharmD and practice in a clinical setting. I aspire to work with psychopharmaceuticals in clinical research to better serve a patient population with chronic mental illnesses. Both sides of my family have struggled intensely with alcoholism. My best friend and cousin has managed multiple mental illnesses during her life, including: ADHD, depression, anxiety, and body dysmorphic disorder. Mental illness has impacted my life significantly, and I want to improve how these chronic diseases are managed. I ultimately want to end the stigma surrounding mental illness and addiction through the means I know best: the union of science and healthcare. I aspire to foster the understanding that diagnoses of mood or addictive disorders are no different than a diagnosis of hypertension.

To the readers of this blog, thank you for your interest in my career path and in pharmacy as a whole! I encourage you to reach out to me via email (vwartenweile@wisc.edu) or LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/in/vincentwartenweiler/) with any questions, comments, or concerns you may have for me.

For more information on Dr. Cody Wenthur’s research interests and publications, consult the following links:

https://molpharm.wisc.edu/staff/wenthur-phd-cody/

https://pharmacy.wisc.edu/wenthur-lab