This feature story originally appeared in the KGI Annual Report, which is linked here.
Armando Cortes, PharmD ’18, was initially attracted to pharmacy because he wanted a career in a health field incorporating chemistry, his undergraduate major and an area of science he loved. He came to KGI with a desire to help as many people as possible through his work. Also seeking to make use of his bilingual skills, Cortes envisioned opening his own pharmacy after graduation.
Instead, he recently began a two-year PGY1/PGY2/MS Health System Pharmacy Administration Residency at the University of Chicago Medicine. Cortes was one of just 10 new U.S. pharmacy graduates selected this year for the residency program designed to develop pharmacy leaders.
“I really tried to convey my passion for the pharmacy field,” he says. “It’s all about how you present yourself. If you’re able to present yourself in a professional and articulate manner, practice what you’ll say, and reflect on what you want for your pharmacy experience, you’ll be successful.”
Assistant Professor of Clinical Sciences Julie Truong, a faculty mentor to Cortes at KGI, is unsurprised that he secured a residency and believes he is deserving of recognition.
“Armando always struck me as someone who would be a pharmacy director someday because he’s someone who can lead a team and really cares about people. He’s very fair-minded and balanced. And he has always done really great work,” says Truong.
Coursework and a variety of experiences at KGI led Cortes to realize that a residency, followed by a health-system pharmacy management role, had become his professional goal.
“It goes back to the reason I chose pharmacy. I want to do my best for the community. In management, whenever you make a change, you don’t impact just one person—you spread the impact,” he explains. “I also enjoy the professional development aspect of management, helping other people develop and be the best they can be.”
Serving as president of the Student Society of Health-System Pharmacists during his time at KGI contributed to his own professional and personal development.
“I like that KGI offers leadership opportunities and promotes getting out of your comfort zone.”
Working as an intern pharmacist at Riverside University Health System Medical Center was another influential experience, solidifying his decision to go into health-system pharmacy.
“I was able to see the outpatient setting in a hospital, which was like a community pharmacy but in a hospital,” Cortes recalls. “I was also able to rotate through the in-patient setting and afterward go into the clinical setting. I was able to round with the medical team and see clinical pharmacy in action.”
Now Cortes is even closer to the action in a clinical setting. A month into his residency, Cortes had already been tapped for the Pharmacist In-Service On-Call Program that placed him in the hospital continuously for 24 hours.
“We’re here 7 a.m. to 7 a.m. the next day to get the full experience,” says Cortes. “The interesting part is that you’re the only clinical pharmacist on duty overnight. At first you do it with an experienced person, but you’re trained to be independent very fast.”
Cortes also has demands on his time that extend beyond the residency. In addition to his training in the clinical setting, he is participating in the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) Foundation’s Pharmacy Leadership Academy, which enables Cortes to continue his personal and professional development through coursework enhancing leadership skills in a healthcare setting. Participating provides academic credit toward an MBA, another educational opportunity Cortes plans to pursue.
“I believe in continuing to learn,” says Cortes. “I’m currently working on a group project with seven individuals, which is the same number I had on my team at KGI.”