Muraoka brings back the fireside chat

Roby Hill
July 21, 2020

Franklin Delano Roosevelt would be proud. MUSC College of Pharmacy student Alyssa Muraoka has brought back the fireside chat to talk about the New Deal of modern pharmacy.

Limitations on in-person gatherings have made this old radio format the perfect vehicle for conversations about nontraditional careers in pharmacy. Muraoka started the program in concert with the Pharmacy Informatics Academy (PhIA) and she hosts a PhIAside Chat every three weeks on Zoom.

“The goal is to introduce students and lifelong learners to roles in pharmacy we aren't typically exposed to in school,” said Muraoka, a third-year pharmacy student who is also earning a concurrent MBA. “Our first event was with the four co-founders of the Pharmacy Informatics Academy. We were shooting for around 25 students, but within a week, we hit 100 signups and ended up having about 45 attendees. Because of this, we had to change the format of the meeting to a webinar, and I became the host.”

The spark behind the PhIAside Chat came from connecting with Beju Shah '10, one of the founders of PhIA and a pioneer in the MUSC/Citadel Pharm.D./MBA concurrent degree program. Shah, a celebrated innovator at MUSC, invited Muraoka to a Virtual Pharmacist Happy Hour (VPHH) he had launched with Justin Bioc. 

“I happened to be the only student at that happy hour, but it was a great experience, and I was able to meet pharmacists from all over the US and even some international,” Muraoka said. “After the event, I talked to Beju about how valuable I felt this experience was from a student's perspective. From there, we brainstormed and decided to do something similar to the Virtual Pharmacist Happy Hour, but geared towards students.” 

Shah and Bioc started the VPHH to bring pharmacists, students, and healthcare professionals together in a safe, inclusive space where they could meet and build meaningful relationships during COVID-19. But with its tighter focus on education and innovation, Muraoka’s webinars are offered under the auspices of the PhIA.

It’s an ideal fit. The PhIA’s mission is to train the next generation of informaticists so that clinicians are well-trained in using technology to improve patient care. The academy offers articles, podcasts, and videos about pharmacy careers and informatics as well as information on certification and other resources. Muraoka is now an ambassador for the PhIA.

The PhIAside Chat webinars start with Muraoka interviewing the guest speaker and asking questions gathered through the signup, then end with student questions and a casual chat with attendees. There have been four PhIAside chats so far:

1.    Pharmacy Informatics - Co-founders of PhIA: Beju Shah, Tony Dao, David Vu and Brian Fung

2.    Women in Tech - Demystifying AI - Whitley Yi and Christy Cheung

3.    Virtual Pharmacy - Managed Care, APPEs and Pharmacy Happy Hour - Justin Bioc

4.    Unique Pharmacy Fields: Solid Organ Transplant, MSL & HEOR - Carmelina Tyler

There are two more planned in the summer series.

"The success we've had with the PhIAside Chat shows how much interest students have in nontraditional pharmacy careers," Muraoka said. "Giving students information, connections to other pharmacists, and the resources of the Pharmacy Informatics Academy can really help them find and prepare for the career meant for them."

About the Author

Roby Hill

Keywords: College News, Alumni News