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: Mike Joines.
Why did you go into the field of pharmacy?
I confused pharmacy with farming…just kidding! I was always interested in science classes at school, like biology and chemistry. If I had to pick between taking an English or science class, I would always choose science. When I started thinking about what I wanted to do after high school, I didn’t really know where to begin. I chose to go into pharmacy because it was the field that seemed most interesting to me.
How did you end up a poison specialist?
I graduated from the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy in 1986 with a BS in pharmacy. I worked in retail pharmacy, and then in a hospital setting for about five years. When I was searching for a new job, I investigated nuclear pharmacy and toxicology. I applied for jobs in both fields, one of those being with the MPC. The interview sealed the deal, and I began working at the MPC in 1996. I haven’t looked back since.
What do you enjoy most about your work?
I enjoy responding to the variety of calls we get at the MPC. I am able to counsel patients when they call, and see their treatment through. Because the field of toxicology is always evolving, we as poison specialists must maintain as current a knowledge base as possible, which challenges me to continue learning every day. There is never a dull day here, as there is always something new to learn. I also enjoy writing our staff newsletter every month. It helps me stay up-to-date on everything that is happening at the MPC. I also include poison-related comics and mystery cases for the staff to enjoy.
Why are poison centers and poison specialists like you important?
Poison Center services are available for callers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. We respond to callers immediately; there is no delay like you might experience when doing a search on the internet, where you have to decide which search result is best. We receive calls from everyone, ranging from babysitters at home to doctors and nurses in emergency departments. We can even prevent unnecessary visits to the hospital by managing certain exposures at home. As poison specialists, we also work with a variety of nurse help lines, psychiatric and recovery services, and school systems across the state to provide assistance with their patients. The MPC really helps to ensure that health care resources are used efficiently and cost-effectively.
What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working?
I enjoy hunting in the fall and winter, and fishing in the summer. I’m from Annapolis, so I am also a fan of our home teams — the Orioles and Ravens, and try to catch their games whenever I am home.