Pharmacy Perspectives - Graduation 2018 - 5

G R A D UAT I O N 2 0 1 8

Erlynn Frankson



It's what she came home to after
school every day and shaped who
she is today. "I saw suffering and it
stuck with me 10-20 years down the
road." But life, marriage, and raising
a family temporarily delayed her
pursuit of this calling.
Originally accepted into CU
Pharmacy in 2010, Frankson postponed entry for four years until she
felt her kids were ready.  In the meantime, she spent her days volunteering
in her children's classrooms.  "It
wasn't enough for me," says Frankson.
So, she tried a variety of opportunities and then found Denver Hospice
where she rediscovered her passion.
"I worked with one or two patients
a week - reading to them, providing
relief for their caregivers, listening to
their stories and watching movies. It
was very rewarding," says Frankson.  
Frankson and her husband knew
that she wasn't going to stay home
forever. It was expected that she would
continue her education. She received
her biochemistry degree in 2007 and
then started thinking about "what's
next?" As it turned out, pharmacy
was her next stop. 

hen Erlynn Frankson was a teen,
her grandfather moved in with her
family so her mother could take care
of him. "She was a nurse and the most
equipped of her five siblings to be his
caregiver," says Frankson.
Frankson experienced palliative
and hospice care on a personal level.
She began the program in 2014
with some trepidation. "I was used
to rolling out of bed, taking the kids
to school and then back to bed for
1-2 hours." Acclimating to pharmacy
school was a challenge. She continues,
"I felt old and that I didn't belong.
Then I found a group of students with
similar life experiences and senses of
humor and it all clicked."
Then came her rotations where she
saw the pharmacist's role in several different settings.  "I bugged Dr. Gilliam
over and over again about hospice
rotations. But there really weren't any,"
recalls Frankson. So, she cobbled together her own choice rotation where
she was able to see a variety of settings
including hospice, cancer and the
Intensive Care Unit (ICU). "Palliative
care is the intersection of geriatrics, palliative care, and hospice and that really
appeals to me," says Frankson.
According to Frankson, "People
have been so helpful and accommodating. I'm getting exposure to a
burgeoning field. It's really exciting to
see the opportunity. But there's no real
path, no guidelines to go by, and that's
what I like. I can create it myself."

During her rotation she shadowed
inpatient and outpatient (palliative
care) teams at University of Colorado
Health and also conducted home
visits. While at the ICU, she noticed
that the care team seems "to treat the
chart or the disease. Palliative care is
intriguing because it focuses on really
treating the patient as a person." For
Frankson, getting to know the patient,
the family, and how, as a team, she can
help get them through this challenging time is what attracts her. "It means
making the patient the happiest they
can be at the end versus continuing to
treat and treat and treat. In medicine,
you're sworn to save lives. We don't
focus on the death side. I want to bring
the quality of life back into a patient's
life at the end," says Frankson.
Frankson's last rotation of her
fourth year has affirmed her focus on
palliative care. Her final stop was at
Collier Hospice under the guidance of
Erin Jury, PharmD, BCGP. Similar to
Frankson, Jury fell into the profession.
First focusing on geriatrics and then
working for a long-term care pharmacy
followed by ambulatory care in a geriatric clinic and finally as a part-time

pharmacist for Collier Hospice - Jury
and Frankson are kindred spirits. The
two met through Bob Davidson, a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW)
whom Frankson approached about
arranging an experience in a hospice
center. He reached out to Jury and
made the arrangements. "I was so
impressed that she knew what she
wanted. When I was in school, I didn't
have exposure to fields such as palliative
care and hospice," says Jury.
Jury encourages others to do what
Frankson has done. "Expand your
horizons. See what's out there and
create your own rotation. You never
know, that might be your future
path," says Jury. And now that the
University is offering a certificate and
a Master's degree in Palliative Care,
both Frankson and Jury agree, "That
opens up more opportunities that
didn't exist a few years ago."
Upon graduation, Frankson will
continue to direct her career as a PGY-1
resident at Duquesne University with a
focus on geriatrics and long-term care.
"I'm really excited because I will be
able to work closely with ambulatory
oncology," says Frankson.


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