Priya PatelClass of 2019 student pharmacist completed a rotation with the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in Nov. 2018 and shares her views on the experience.

  1. What interested you in pursing an APPE rotation with the Food and Drug Administration?

I have always had a strong interest in the pharmaceutical industry and was very curious about the regulatory aspects of pharmacy throughout the didactic curriculum. I applied to this rotation in hopes of getting a firsthand big-picture understanding of how the FDA can impact medications and medication products.

  1. To what division were you assigned at the FDA and when did you attend?

I was assigned to the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER) Office of Clinical Pharmacology (OCP) in pediatrics.

  1. What was the rotation like? To what kinds of activities were you assigned? 

The rotation was unlike any other experience for me thus far. I was given a badge that allowed me to pass through security every morning and to gain entrance into the White Oak Campus of the FDA. Each week I attended the Pediatric Review Committee meetings and was responsible for summarizing a couple drug or drug product applications each week for my team; my work was reviewed by the team before these weekly meetings. Additionally, I wrote weekly articles for the Pediatric Clinical Pharmacology Newsletter. Throughout the time I was there, I worked on a research project and was able to present my findings at the end of the rotation. Intermittently, throughout the week, there were many student programming lectures and information sessions that offered insight on the various functions of the FDA, as well as general advice for student pharmacists. I was able to meet many student pharmacists from all over the country and speak to pharmacists in different departments of the FDA.

  1. In what other kinds of experiences did you engage during your time on the East Coast?

I had never been to Washington D.C. before, so I spent some time exploring all of the landmarks and some museums with other pharmacy students. We went to the National Botanical Gardens and had an amusing time posing with the plants from which medications were derived. We also got to tour the American Pharmacists’ Association (APhA) Headquarters and see the official presidential photos of some of the CUSP deans on the wall (e.g, Ron Jordan #143, LB Brown #160, Nancy Alvarez, #162). The other pharmacy students and I also took a road trip to New Jersey one weekend to visit the school of pharmacy at Rutgers University.

  1. What are the one or two highlights of your experience?

One of my most memorable aspects of this experience were all of the close friendships I was able to develop in my short time there. All of the student pharmacists were incredibly enthusiastic and supportive of each other. Since most of us were not from the area, we spent a lot of time together and I am confident that we will continue to stay in touch for a very long time. We also went to go watch an NBA basketball game and were able to get really close seats, which was hands down my favorite thing that I was able to do.

  1. What advice do you have for other student pharmacists interested in engaging in a rotation with the FDA?

The biggest thing is to not let the fear of failure hold you back from trying. Work hard and submit a strong application because it is definitely a worthwhile and wholesome experience. Also, it’s very important to vocalize your interests to your preceptor, because they truly want to help optimize your experience at the FDA. I actively welcome any interested students reach out to me if they have any questions!