Dr. Corey Cicci is a current PGY-2 pharmacy resident in Emergency Medicine at Froedtert Health in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin (try to say that five times fast!!). He graduated from the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy (ESOP) in 2018 and completed his PGY-1 Residency across the street at UNC Hospitals. However, before finding “pharmacy,” Dr. Cicci was a registered nurse and an actor!! This week, Sit with Senate’s Vera Pervitsky interviewed Dr. Cicci about his time at ESOP and during his pharmacy residency programs.
Vera Pervitsky (VP): What made you pursue pharmacy?
Dr. Corey Cicci (CC): “Before pharmacy school, I was a nurse. During that job, the pharmacists I worked with were so knowledgeable, kind, and calm under pressure. It had me interested in the field and I really loved learning about drugs and about how chemistry and biology come together. I like being able to problem-solve with a team and pharmacy allows you to do that.”
VP: When did you know that you wanted to pursue a residency, and how did you become interested in Emergency Medicine?
CC: “I knew that I wanted to pursue a residency before pharmacy school due to my interactions with pharmacists when I was a nurse. Most of the pharmacy opportunities that I was interested in were that of a clinical pharmacy specialist.
I had a hunch that I wanted to go into Emergency Medicine at the start of pharmacy school because I knew I really liked it. However, I did not know for sure until this past year during my first year of residency (PGY-1) at UNC. In the ED, your patient list is always different and no day is ever the same. There is a strong camaraderie between the Emergency Department team and it is a great mix between inpatient, ambulatory care, and critical care. I like being able to work as part of a team.”
VP: I know you just started your PGY-2 pharmacy residency, but can you describe your typical day?
CC: “Similarly to PGY-1, I still have rotations that are around a month. Every month I am placed somewhere different within the hospital, but the difference from the PGY-1 year is that my role is more focused as an emergency medicine resident. You are taking care of patients more directly than in other areas. Whenever the emergency department gets busy, it tends to be more unpredictable.
A lot of people describe PGY1 as breadth and PGY2 as depth. I would say that this year (PGY-2), you are no longer figuring out how to be a pharmacist, but instead, you are figuring out how to be a specialist. As a PGY-2, you do not need to relive the learning curve of becoming a pharmacist, which changes the residency experience slightly.”
VP: How is your PGY-2 experience at a new medical center thus far different from your PGY-1 residency at UNC Hospital?
CC: “It is interesting– there are many subtle differences between the two medical centers. The reason is that I went from a large academic center to another. The bigger picture in terms of operations and goals within the hospital are pretty much the same. Mission statements and vision statements are the same. The practice is pretty similar in a lot of ways. It differs by the available drugs, environmental factors (i.e. winter), antibiotic resistance rates, etc. Pharmacists have a lot of influence and are well respected here and that is why I really wanted to come here.”
VP: Will you be precepting?
CC: “There are a ton of students coming through here because there are three pharmacy schools that have students rotate. The rotation schedules for each of the schools are all different and on top of that, there are PGY-1 residents who are interested in Emergency Medicine. Having said that, there will be a lot of learners that I will be interacting with and precepting.”
VP: What activities did you participate in during pharmacy school, and how did they influence your career or your perspective on the profession of pharmacy?
CC: “I participated in PDC, CAPS (APhA/ASP Chapter President), ACCP (Pocket Guide Chair), SHAC, PLS, and Rho Chi. I think these experiences have made me really love the teamwork aspect of pharmacy because all of the activities were centered around accomplishing something in groups. I liked the SHAC Clinic a lot, even though I didn’t do it too many times. There is something really cool about an interdisciplinary group that comes together to solve problems and this is what I like to do. A residency program gives you the opportunity to solve a lot of problems, and with emergency medicine, you are constantly working together with different professionals.”
VP: What advice would you offer to current pharmacy students?
CC: “Try to put yourself outside your comfort zone as often as you can because it is easy to stay in your comfort zone and do only the things you are good at. However, the experiences that were uncomfortable and hard have really influenced me as a pharmacy student. When I first stepped into the emergency department even before I chose to pursue a PGY-2 in emergency medicine, I was really nervous, but I had to leap right into it. If I had not done it, I would not have known that I really liked emergency medicine. In addition, try to enjoy the experiences that you get on your rotation even though they may not be your cup of tea.”
VP: How can current pharmacy students make themselves competitive candidates for residency programs?
CC: “A lot of people focus a lot on one certain area like research, GPA, leadership, etc. Try to do something in every area. I would encourage people to be as well rounded as possible by doing a couple of things in the areas that inspire you the most. Try to find the unique ways in which you can stand out, be a little different, and can leave a memorable impression in a good way. When you have an opportunity to do something unique, I highly encourage you to strongly consider doing it. You definitely want to add your twist on something while staying well rounded.”
VP: What do you like to do in your free time?
CC: “It is important to make free time even if it seems impossible. There is always time for self-care. Do not overlook the importance of self-care. I love outdoor activities and especially hiking. Being near Lake Michigan, you get to see a lot of things. I used to be an actor so I love any sort of performing arts. I watch Netflix when I can– I like the genre of true crime, both in documentary form and podcast form.”