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: Laura Hignutt.
Why did you go into the field of pharmacy?
My aunt worked as a pharmacy cashier for a few decades. I would visit her a lot growing up, so the staff got to know me and my family well. When I turned 18, they offered me a job at the pharmacy. I was fortunate to work with a wonderful pharmacist who was full of knowledge and willing to teach me about pharmacology. He took me under his wing and later convinced me to go to pharmacy school.
How did you end up becoming a poison specialist?
I was working as an inpatient pharmacist in a few area hospitals, but felt my career had grown stagnant. There are many types of places where a pharmacist can work, so I began looking around for a new opportunity. A coworker told me about a poison specialist position opening up at the MPC. I jumped on the opportunity to learn about what they did here, and quickly became interested in pursuing a career as a poison specialist.
What do you enjoy most about your work?
I find this work to be rewarding in many ways, whether it be the continuing education I receive in the field of toxicology or getting to help people in need. Every day at work is another opportunity to learn and help everyone who calls the MPC.
Why are poison centers and poison specialists like you important?
Our service is important to both health care professionals and the general public. We can reassure a scared parent that their child is safe to stay home, make referrals to the emergency room when appropriate, and give guidance to hospital nurses and providers managing poisoning patients.
What’s an important message you want to share about poison safety?
Never be too timid or scared to call the poison center — no matter how small the ingestion or exposure. We are here to give guidance and reassurance, but most importantly, we are happy to give all of the advice needed to give one peace of mind.
What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working?
I am very active and strive to be physically fit. Strength training and cycling are two of my favorite activities. I am looking forward to riding the Northern Central Railroad (NCR) trail this summer.