Though they are most visible working behind the nearest drug store counter, pharmacists have many other unique and lesser-known clinical opportunities. It’s one of those less traveled career paths that most interests third-year TTUHSC-Abilene pharmacy student Athena Brindle.
“For years, I have had a desire to understand the unique role a pharmacist can have when assisting the athletic population,” Brindle says. “Because this role is not well established for pharmacists, I have spent years shadowing many notable sports medicine professionals and taking any opportunity I can to learn from those who are currently working in this field.”
As she learned more about sports medicine, Brindle developed an interest in the anti-doping initiatives put forth by agencies like the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). She discovered that pharmacists could impact the health and safety of athletes by learning as much as possible about the use of medications and supplements that make up WADA’s list of prohibited substances.
Last summer, Brindle began learning about those prohibited substances by working as a USADA intern in Colorado. While there, she developed a database detailing internal supplement ingredients and worked with experts in the USADA Drug Reference Program to understand how pharmacists can play a key role in advancing the anti-doping movement.
As the first science intern at USADA, Brindle caught the attention of the Partnership for Clean Competition (PCC), a nonprofit organization founded collaboratively by USADA, the U.S Olympic Committee, the National Football League and Major League Baseball. These groups work together through PCC to protect the integrity of sport and public health through anti-doping research and development.
Following her internship, Brindle applied to PCC for a travel scholarship to attend the organization’s 2019 conference April 16-18 at King’s College London in England. In late February, she became one of a small cadre of students whose application was accepted. It’s an opportunity for which Brindle is very thankful. She believes the conference will strengthen her knowledge about the Anti-Doping Initiative and introduce her to the vast amount of new research being conducted internationally.
Brindle says the Anti-Doping Initiative complements her interest in becoming an academic and ambulatory care pharmacist. After she graduates in May 2020, she hopes to find a pharmacy residency program that helps her develop expertise in academia, research, drug information and outpatient care.
“I am confident these skills will translate into many different fields,” Brindle says. “That will allow me to contribute to my ultimate passion, which is sports medicine. As a student pharmacist, I have been fortunate to have many professionals in this field allow me to learn from their practices and find ways in-which pharmacists can assist. The PCC conference will further my efforts in identifying where I can continue to contribute to the Anti-Doping Initiative as a pharmacist who is interested in the care of athletes.”