Meet Kristina, Pharmacist
Kristina Li has practiced as a clinical pharmacist for nearly a decade, working in a number of hospitals in the Los Angeles area. She was inspired to go down the medical field path by her mom, who to this day still works as a nurse. As a child, Kristina often visited her mom at the hospital and was inspired by her mom’s dedication and devotion toward caring for her patients.
Outside of the pharmacy, Kristina’s entrepreneurial spirit keeps her busy. She runs a nutrition counseling business, moonlights as a professional hand model, and is working hard on launching an upcoming blog centered around healthy living.
Tell us about your career story. Did it start when you were young? After college?
I was primed for a career in medicine very early on. When I was young, my mom (a nurse) would often have me sit in the hospital waiting room while she finished up her shift. For me the hospital was an exciting place — the sounds, the bustle of activity, I even enjoyed the cafeteria food! My mom absolutely loves her job, and she would tell me about the cases that she worked (anonymizing any patient information of course!)…I remember being fascinated by her stories.
But even though I had the ambition, the academic path was quite challenging. As a premed & chemistry major, my schedule was filled back-to-back with classes, lab periods, and study sessions. The coursework started to wear me down and I became less motivated to continue as a premed. So after I graduated, I decided to take some time to figure things out.
Unfortunately that year, I suddenly and inexplicably fell ill to the point of almost being bedridden. My recovery was slow and difficult, but day-by-day I took back my health. This experience reignited my interest in the medical field and I got excited again to learn and understand all the biochemistry, the organ systems, and diseases. I finished up a few prerequisites, went to pharmacy school, and now I’m a practicing clinical pharmacist.
What is a typical day for you?
As a clinical pharmacist, my main responsibilities are monitoring and treating patients. This could include antibiotic dosing, anticoagulation management, and parenteral nutrition monitoring. Each patient is assessed daily. When necessary, I am authorized to adjust doses, order labs, and change interventions. At previous hospitals I’ve worked at, I went on rounds with the medical team to visit each patient’s room. During these rounds, we discuss the patient’s condition and coordinate our treatment approach.
If I’m the sole pharmacist on duty, then I have to take on additional responsibilities. These include verifying or clarifying medication orders, checking all medications that leave the pharmacy, restocking medications and narcotics to the floors, answering phone calls and pages, and compounding medications.
What do you love most about your job?
Helping patients is what I love most about my job. It’s rewarding to be an integral part of someone’s care. I’ve even had patients come back to personally thank me, which is exceedingly special. I also really value the camaraderie amongst healthcare professionals — the success of the patient’s recovery truly requires us to work together.
What are its biggest challenges?
Working in the medical field can be emotionally-charged and stressful, which often leads to miscommunication and finger-pointing. I’ve personally been yelled at and blamed for things that occurred when I wasn’t even at work. But, you can’t take things personally because there are always much more serious matters at stake. The important thing is to figure out where the miscommunication happened, learn from it, and move on.
What are some of your hobbies and interests outside of work?
I’m passionate about health and fitness. I’ve been weightlifting for the past 5 years and even competed in a fitness competition. While working in the medical field, I observed that modern healthcare relied heavily on medication, which alleviated symptoms but didn’t always treat the underlying root causes. In search of more holistic remedies, I became intrigued with the idea of food as medicine. In 2017, I became a certified nutrition specialist (CNS) and launched my own nutrition counseling business called Jumpstart Nutrition.
As a creative outlet, I also work as a hand and parts model. If you’ve ever wondered whose hands, legs, or feet is in that commercial or ad, it might just be me! I’m planning to start a blog where I’ll share my love for food, fitness and health, beauty tips, and personal life.
Other things I do for fun are exploring LA and traveling with my husband, spending time with my family and friends, and trying to teach my bunnies to do tricks.
Do you have any words of advice?
If you are interested in pursuing pharmacy, I would highly recommend shadowing a pharmacist or working in a pharmacy to get a sense of the work life. And to clear up a common misconception, pharmacists don’t just work in chain pharmacies (e.g. CVS) and hospitals. They also work in regulatory affairs, research and development, academia, managed care, etc.
Another word of advice is to continually network, especially during pharmacy school. I kept in touch with my colleagues, professors, and preceptors, which helped me secure a job before I had taken my license exams and graduated.
Check out Kristina's work!
Nutrition Business: https://jumpstart-nutrition.com/
Hand Model Portfolio: https://kristinaliparts.wixsite.com/home
IG (personal, mostly hand model pics, some travel): https://instagram/itsmekristinali