“Growing up in New York, living here makes you resilient but you don’t understand your own strengths or resilience until you go through an experience like this.”
Sharmin Amjad, a critical care clinical pharmacy manager in the cardiac intensive care unit (ICU), didn’t even get a chance to complete her five-week introductory training to familiarize herself with the new hospital system, where she started working in early March. She now spends her days making sure that appropriate critical care medications are ordered for patients fighting COVID-19, and helps new residents and travel nurses who are rotating from other departments of the hospital to the critical care unit.
As a clinical pharmacist, Sharmin is an integral member of the healthcare team. She serves as a medication specialist making sure that medications are fully stocked in the automated dispensing machines, the dosing is accurate and that there are no adverse reactions. Since many healthcare facilities are dealing with a huge challenge of drug shortages, she has also started to spend a great deal of time helping the central pharmacy at her institution, facilitating their operations to ensure that medications are available and being distributed appropriately at all times.
Sharmin’s experience in dealing with this crisis is a mix of exhaustion, gratefulness, and intellectual excitement. She says: “You have to make these really extreme clinical decisions at times where you are like I don't have enough information to decide what’s the best for this patient but I’m so grateful for all the training that I have had, for my mentors and colleagues from other states. Everything that I did a few years, ago after my graduation, it's really paying off now.”
Sharmin looks at this pandemic as a learning experience and is grateful to be alive at this time. She feels that there will be a big shift in priorities within and even outside of healthcare. She consistently works with patients that are enrolled in clinical trials with new therapies specifically against COVID-19 and considers that opportunity to be very intellectually energizing and rewarding.
Having recently moved back from Cleveland to New York to pursue a new job opportunity, Sharmin was really excited to be closer to her family again and was planning to spend the majority of her weekends with them. Those plans were quickly pushed aside given the recent developments and now she only gets to wave at her family from far every other weekend. She is still grateful though that she made the decision to move back when she did.
Sharmin grew up in Queens, New York, and graduated from Long Island University, College of Pharmacy. She pursued her postgraduate year-one residency at Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia and then specialized in emergency medicine and critical care during her second year of residency in San Antonio Texas at University Health System. She currently works at Mount Sinai Morningside, where the Cardiac ICU has now been transformed into the COVID-19 ICU.
Sharmin’s message to all the other healthcare workers in the community is to advocate for themselves. “I am very lucky to be at an institution where I get a N95 mask every shift, but I would encourage others, especially nurses who are on the frontlines of this, to speak up for their own protection.”