One of the goals of our eAntidote blog is to introduce you to the real poison experts who answer the phones at the Maryland Poison Center (MPC). In addition to being nurses and pharmacists, they are parents, grandparents, artists, athletes, sports fans, and more! Read the Q&A below to get to know one of our specialists: Josh Dennis.
Why did you go into the field of pharmacy?
I went into pharmacy because I wanted to help people when they were hurting. I was originally a psychology major, but later changed to chemistry. After getting my bachelor’s degree, I enrolled in the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy. I was able to use my psychology and chemistry education for a few rotations in psychiatric pharmacy.
How did you end up a poison specialist?
I took the Intro to the Poison Center class while I was in pharmacy school, and found it interesting. We came to the MPC during class to listen in on calls. I even completed a class project on digoxin (a heart medicine) after hearing about it on one of the calls. I followed the case alongside Randy, one of our poison specialists who recently retired. He had a wealth of knowledge. My best friend also started working at the MPC after we graduated, and he recommended that I apply. I was looking for a change of pace after working in retail pharmacy for 10 years, so I took his advice and applied. In 2017, I began working at the MPC.
What do you enjoy most about your work?
I enjoy being able to use my clinical knowledge every day. With the wide variety of calls that we receive at the MPC, we are continuously expanding our pharmacology knowledge. I feel like I get to help people more now than when I was behind the pharmacy counter. Being a poison specialist, I’m able to provide patients with an expert understanding of complex subject matter.
Why are poison centers and poison specialists like you important?
We are important because we give the public peace of mind. Poisoning and overdoses are stressful situations. By providing expert advice, we can alleviate some of that stress. They can call us at any time to get a real answer to their question or situation. Our free service saves patients and health care facilities money, as we are able to manage many patients at home, instead of at the hospital.
What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working?
One of my hobbies is woodworking. I have made furniture, bowls, and Harry Potter wands for my wife. I also enjoy going white water rafting when the weather is nice, and there are many great places for that along the East Coast. My wife, a fellow pharmacist, and I like to travel in our free time. We also have two cats at home, Isabelle (who loves belly rubs) and Olive (who is fluffy and fat).