Mark Crist to use own experience with spinal cord injury to fulfill dreams
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - When it’s time for the transition between classroom work and real-world work, there is a certain level of excitement and, in some cases, a certain level of fear. Not for Charleston native Mark Crist — he’s excited to take on life’s next adventure.
Crist graduated from the West Virginia University School of Pharmacy with a Doctorate in Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) in May. Having a career that allows him to help others has always been his goal. But now, being able to do that has taken on a new meaning.
During his first year of studies at the WVU School of Pharmacy, Crist was in a diving accident that left him without the use of his legs. Having the strong will that he does, he was determined to work hard during rehabilitation, and it was at this time that he discovered how he could go on to help others through his chosen profession.
“There wasn’t ever a time during the rehabilitation process that I thought about throwing in the towel,” he said. “I realized as I was going through rehab that pharmacists are not really being utilized in areas such as infectious diseases, critical care, psychiatry and rehabilitation. I knew then that I wanted to work with spinal cord injury patients.”
His aspiration to help others is becoming a reality as he is pursuing a residency at The Ohio State University Medical Center (OSUMC). Crist selected this location to continue his studies to become a clinical pharmacist in a large-scale Spinal Cord Injured/Traumatic Brain Injured (SCI/TBI) hospital for several reasons.
But what was most important was the education it would provide to him in this specialty area through the nationally recognized Dodd Hall — the main location of the center’s rehabilitation hospital, which is consistently ranked in the rehabilitation hospitals section on the “U.S. News and World Report” Best Hospitals list. The residency at OSUMC is highly competitive, and only five pharmacy graduates nationwide are accepted each year.
While this residency focuses on many aspects of patient care, Crist plans on completing rotations in as many fields that would be applicable to the spinal cord/traumatic brain injury population as he can.
“My main goal is to 'give back' to my patient population,” Crist said. “I think direct patient care is the best way for me to do that, and I feel like I saw firsthand the direct impact that good pharmaceutical care can have on a patient. I would have loved to have had a pharmacist in a chair when I was newly injured for no other reason than to see that life does go on after spinal cord injury.”
Mark Crist is presented his Pharm.D. degree by (left) Dr. Christopher C. Colenda, West Virginia University’s chancellor for health sciences, and (right) Dr. Patricia Chase, dean of the WVU School of Pharmacy.