White Coat On

Pediatric Pharmacist Provides Emergency and ICU Care to Patients

Priya Narang, a pediatric pharmacist at The Johns Hopkins Hospital. (Photo: Peter Howard)

By Julie Kayzerman

A career aptitude test, taken in her senior year of high school, pointed Priya Narang, PharmD’17 (Flor), toward pharmacy.

Thirteen years later, Narang’s test results have proven accurate — she’s a pediatric pharmacist at The Johns Hopkins Hospital, landing the post just one year after graduating from FDU’s School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences.

Since starting in August 2018, Narang has spent most of her time working in the pediatric intensive care unit (ICU) and the pediatric emergency department, where she analyzes drug levels, writes therapeutic drug-monitoring notes, performs medication reconciliation, responds to codes and cardiac arrests, verifies medication orders, completes rounds with the medical teams and responds to questions about drugs. She also became a board-certified pharmacotherapy specialist while balancing her new job.

“I grew up hearing about Hopkins, since I had a family member treated there. I’m extremely grateful to be having this experience as my first job, because the hospital treats kids from all over the world, with all different ailments and rare diseases,” Narang says. Each day, she is constantly amazed by the complexity of the cases she sees.

“To see kids in the ICU who go on Extra-corporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) as a last resort and recover completely, leaves me in awe,” she says. The ECMO procedure functions as heart-lung bypass outside of the patient’s small body.

Her first introduction to pediatric pharmacy came on a volunteer trip through FDU’s pharmacy program. Students who take the pediatric service-learning class travel to Florida and volunteer with Give Kids the World. The nonprofit provides housing to families with children who have life-threatening illnesses as they explore nearby theme parks.

“I chose FDU because there were exciting opportunities, such as service trips and volunteer [experiences] available,” she says. “Similarly, learning near pharmaceutical companies provided more options for [practical] rotations.” FDU’s Florham Campus is located within a two-mile radius of pharmaceutical companies Pfizer Inc. and Leo Pharma.

Narang’s experience at FDU taught her to be more confident and set realistic goals for herself, while her professors encouraged her to take chances.

“Dr. Julie Kalabalik, [assistant professor of pharmacy practice], convinced me to look into residency and apply. Had I not taken her advice, I would never have had the experience of a pediatric ICU rotation and probably would not have ended up in clinical pharmacy,” she says. Narang is also the program’s first graduate to land a one-year residency with Atlantic Health System, which ultimately led her to Johns Hopkins.

In the long-term, Narang envisions working as a clinical coordinator, focusing on both the clinical and administrative aspects of being a pharmacist.

“Ultimately, my experiences at FDU made me realize that kids everywhere believe in magic and hope, and if I can keep that magic and hope alive, I’ll feel like I made a difference,” says Narang.

Ed. note: A version of this article first appeared in the Winter/Spring 2020 edition of FDU Magazine.

Selected features from Fairleigh Dickinson University’s biannual, signature publication.