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), as well as our staff members. 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 specialist: Amber Ferrell
Why did you go into the field of pharmacy?
I have had a passion for chemistry since I was young. Throughout school, I enjoyed learning about medications, how they work, and why they work. That’s why I chose pharmacy, instead of a different health care field.
How did you end up a poison specialist?
I took a clinical toxicology class as an elective in my third year of pharmacy school. It was my favorite class. Sitting in the final exam, I thought about how cool it would be to have a job at the poison center, but I felt like everyone else in the class felt the same, and I would not have the chance. I worked in retail pharmacy after school, and enjoyed helping patients and doctors with their medication questions, so the idea of being able to answer questions every day was very exciting.
What do you enjoy most about your work?
I enjoy helping people. I like being able to answer the public’s questions using my knowledge and resources. When I work, it’s like an adventure. I never know what’s going to come in on the other end of the phone. And, no two calls are ever the same. This makes working at the MPC every day exciting.
Why are poison centers and poison specialists like you important?
Poison centers offer a service that isn’t readily available through other health care resources. We are some of the only people you can call in the middle of the night to ask a question about medicines and household products. We are also able to help ensure that health care systems are used appropriately, keeping mild exposures on watch at home. Some days, I think about all of the people who could be in the hospital or doctor’s office if it weren’t for us, and that’s a scary thought. It’s nice that people can call us, and be able to know when an exposure is serious enough to warrant visiting the hospital.
What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working?
I like to travel with my husband. We enjoy going to museums, zoos, and the movies. We also visit carousels, as I am a member of the National Carousel Association. I enjoy learning the history behind carousels and helping with their preservation across the country. I spend a lot of time with my little sister and her dog, as well.