How I Spent My Summer: Tsiao Looks for ‘Meaningful Impact’ at Johns Hopkins

Emily Tsiao at Johns Hopkins

August 3, 2016

By Sarah Russell

AUBURN, Alabama – Emily Tsiao, a rising third-year student at Harrison School of Pharmacy, has spent her summer in Baltimore, Maryland, participating in the Johns Hopkins Pharmacy Internship Program at The Johns Hopkins Hospital.

Throughout her internship, Tsiao, a native of Bellevue, Washington, has taken on several projects, ranging from writing an article for the department’s newsletter, to conducting literature reviews, to a major presentation she will give to the pharmacists, residents, students and interns from the department. Day to day, Tsiao says she also spends much of her time shadowing her preceptor, Todd Nesbit, Director of Patient Care Services.

So far, she thinks the experience has been not only beneficial, but crucial to her post-graduate direction.

“Without this internship, I would not have realized that I want to pursue a Health-System Pharmacy Administration PGY1 and PGY2 residency,” Tsiao said.

She has devoted the bulk of her work to her major project, which she calls her competency management project, in which she evaluated the suitability of several different competency management systems (CMSs) for The Johns Hopkins Hospital’s needs.

Healthcare systems use CMSs to evaluate and advance their employees’ skills to ensure they provide the most comprehensive, competitive and effective care possible.

Through this project, Tsiao identified weaknesses in Johns Hopkins’ current competency management system, wrote the project charter, compiled a list of features desired in a new system, selected potential CMS vendors and assisted the vendors to create a pilot software. She will present her findings on July 18.

Asked what her favorite experience of the summer has been thus far, her competency management project is first on her list.

“I am grateful that my preceptor gave me the opportunity to work on projects that meaningfully impact the efficiency by which the Pharmacy Department develops the clinical skills of its pharmacists,” she said.

Tsiao has also participated in the Probiotics Advisory Group, which works to create policies and protocols for probiotic use within the Johns Hopkins Health System.

Through all of the hands-on, real-world experience afforded by her internship, Tsiao says the most valuable skills she’s gained are her leadership skills.

“Being a part of the Johns Hopkins Pharmacy Internship Program has been one of the most influential experiences in my pharmacy career thus far,” Tsiao said. “Through this internship, I have gained a greater respect for the power of good leadership.”

Tsiao says she also has a better understanding of leadership as it pertains to pharmacy.

“I was able to interact with pharmacists who are incredible leaders,” Tsiao said. “They use their leadership skills to develop policies, procedures and programs to best serve their patients and to take advantage of the new opportunities for pharmacists to be more involved in a patient’s care.”

“In my time here I have realized that I want to be an effective leader so that I can be a force for positive change in the profession of pharmacy and be a part of the effort to improve the standards of patient care.”


About the Harrison School of Pharmacy
Auburn University’s Harrison School of Pharmacy is ranked among the top 20 percent of all pharmacy schools in the United States, according to U.S. News & World Report. Fully accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE), the School offers doctoral degrees in pharmacy (Pharm.D.) and pharmaceutical sciences (Ph.D.) while also offering a master’s in pharmaceutical sciences. For more information about the School, please call 334.844.8348 or visit

Making Medications Work Through Innovative Research, Education and Patient Care

Last Updated: August 3, 2016