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Speeches and Testimony : Commencement Speech – University of Maryland School of Pharmacy

Commencement Speech – University of Maryland School of Pharmacy

May 17, 2013

Commencement Address
University of Maryland School of Pharmacy
Joshua M. Sharfstein, M.D.

Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene
May 17, 2013

Good morning — and congratulations. It is an honor to be able to share in your celebration today.

I have a great view from here.  I can see the pride on the face of Dean Eddington.  I can see the broad smiles of the faculty.

I can see the joy of so many friends and family — or is that relief? No, it’s joy. I can tell it’s joy.

And I can see the excitement of today’s graduates … who after so much time and study are poised to enter a wonderful profession. I am a pediatrician, and I must admit .. that my deep respect for pharmacists came the hard way, after a difficult morning on rounds at Children’s Hospital in Boston.  As we walked around the unit, we learned that I was responsible for a medication error on every single one of my patients. Wrong antibiotic choice. Wrong IV fluid order.

Wrong dose of insulin…not good. Even though there had been no complications overnight, I felt like an utter failure. When we reached the room of my last patient, I had
to assure my team that there was no way I could have messed up again…because my patient was not on any medications.  Her only therapy for a flare of Crohn’s Disease was

ENSURE to avoid bowel obstruction.
Suddenly, her father burst out the room and yelled, “Who gave my daughter

ENSURE with fiber?”
It was then I became fast friends with the pharmacist on the team. There is nobody like a pharmacist to help choose and dose a medication correctly.

There is nobody like a pharmacist to help think through the risks and benefits.

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