My adventure so far!! 7/2/12
I have been working at the Claremore Indian Hospital for over four weeks. I honestly had no expectations of what I would be doing when I arrived. I knew that I would be experiencing a different area of pharmacy, and I was definitely right!
One of the best aspects of this experience is that no two days are the same. I have had the opportunity to spend the afternoons with fourth year students on rotation from OU. With them I was able to listen to their various talks on subjects like kidney disease, infectious disease, and acid/base issues. These talks were very informative, and I think will prove helpful in my upcoming semester. Other afternoons, I have been able to participate actively in the Congestive Heart Failure Clinic, Smoking Cessation Clinic, and Anticoagulation Clinic. All of these clinics are facilitated by pharmacists and have been great learning experiences for me. I have been able to practice my motivational interviewing, blood pressure measurements, and learn a great deal about the various conditions. Most mornings I am doing research for the hospital. I have done several drug utilization evaluations for high risk and high cost medications, clinic reviews, and formulary/inventory management. I have also been able to participate in the Infection Control Meetings, Medication Misadventure Group, Med Rec with Surgeons, and Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee meetings. I have even been able to watch a surgery!! So there is not a typical day here at Claremore Indian Hospital.
I first learned about the Indian Health Service (IHS) through pharmacy skills labs with Dr. Nevile and Dr. Perri using the “three prime questions” for patient counseling. I researched the IHS further and discovered that it was a unique practice environment for pharmacists that encompassed much more than just patient counseling techniques. With the HIS, I could travel outside of Georgia for the summer, gain clinical pharmacy experience, and get paid! So I decided to apply for a summer internship, filled out the application, interviewed with the COSTEP coordinator, and was selected to be the JR COSTEP Intern for the Claremore Indian Hospital in Claremore, OK.
Before leaving for my internship, my JR COSTEP Coordinator sent me an email entailing my summer duties. It stated that during my rotations I would spend equal time between inpatient, outpatient, and research. I would participate in clinic visits, staffing, administrative meetings, and projects. Clinic visits include spending time in the CHF, Hepatitis C, Anticoagulant Clinic, and Smoking Cessation outpatient clinics. Staffing includes working in the outpatient pharmacy and familiarizing the use of dispensing automation in pharmacy practice. I would also be asked to research and complete several products throughout the summer including Drug Utilization Evaluations and Clinic Evaluations to be presented at local hospital committees and possibly national committees for IHS.
The IHS JR COSTEP is a federally sponsored internship and requires official orders to travel to my official site. This required coordination from IHS headquarters and my local site to attain the documentation necessary for me to become a Commissioned Core Officer with IHS. The documentation required included starting travel dates and dates of active duty. I also had to provide numerous documents to attain security clearance to work in this facility such as fingerprints, background checks, and credit checks. Even though the program requires a lot of documentation and time for orders to be finalized, which was quite stressful at times, the COSTEP program is definitely worth pursuing if interested in stepping outside of your comfort zone and trying something new over the summer.
[For more information about the IHS JR COSTEP program, visit http://www.ihs.gov/pharmacy/index.cfm?module=opportunities]
As my “old phone” ringtone alarm rings in my ear, I wake up with a smile on my face at 7 a.m., which is a rare occurrence. As I go through my morning routine, the nerves keep building in my stomach. I try to calm myself by playing some music in the background, but that winds up distracting me for a couple of precious minutes. I print out a copy of my directions, grab my lunch and white coat before I bolt out the door.
Fresh air finally reaches my nose, and I can’t help but stop and take a whiff of the early morning smells that only happen in the South. I make a note to myself to remember that I could have this smell every morning in a few years if I keep my priorities straight. As I make my way to the hospital, which I’ve done a multitude of times, I can’t help but feel a little more secure with things. My white coat is on me as I travel, and it’s almost started to give me a feeling of a security blanket. I know what this coat means, and now is the time to truly let it shine.
After obtaining my parking pass, getting some breakfast, and parking in the correct lot (which was a little more challenging than one would think), I’m greeted by my preceptor as I walk in. Their smile lets me know that I am in fact in the right place, and I know I’m going to have a wonderful day.
The first hour was full of introductions, possible futures and careers discussions, and asking a multitude of questions to our preceptor to see how we should attempt to further ourselves in the pharmacy world. It was fun to listen to what my other classmates were thinking of doing after we graduated, and how different our paths could be once we leave UGA. After picking our preceptor’s brain, 4th year students came in to discuss part of their rotation assignment, and I couldn’t have been more intrigued. It was almost encouraging to know that they were in our shoes just a couple of years ago, and that I’m eventually going to get there, it just takes time and practice.
After this, we went to lunch with the 4th years, and then walked back over to the hospital with our preceptor to tour the main hospital pharmacy.
Our first stop was actually the clinical research part of the pharmacy. For some reason, I’ve always imagined these drugs coming down from a research lab every time a person needs another dose. I’m not sure why I didn’t think there would be a section in the pharmacy, but shockingly this was my favorite part of the day. Thanks to my undergraduate work I knew this was my element. We were allowed to see how the chart is different than a regular chart, and how the logs have many more requirements than a normal prescription. As a first year, it was definitely intimidating, but as a “want-to-be” researcher I was infatuated with the work that was going on in that room.
The rest of the main pharmacy was just as intriguing as the clinical research part. Everything worked like a well-oiled machine, and everyone worked as a team. It was encouraging to see that even in a place a big as the hospital things were calm, cool, and collected. You get these ideas in your head from shows like ER, and think that things are always about getting drugs STAT or always being some form of chaos, but it’s definitely the most calming atmosphere I’ve ever been in.
After a couple more hours, it was time to go home unfortunately. I’m very serious when I say I didn’t want this day to end. I had such a wonderful time seeing all of the different areas in a hospital. I’m overwhelmed at how many opportunities there are for pharmacists in the hospital setting. I’m very thankful to have had such a blessed experience, and I can’t wait for the fall to start so my classmates and I can share all of our wonderful experiences at all of the different hospitals around Georgia.
I feel so honored to be able to go on these experiences as a first year because it gives me time to see things for what they are, and allows me to give more thought to potential rotation ideas. I can’t wait to take what I learned from today and use it over the summer and fall! I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about a day in the life of a first year’s time in a hospital, and last but not least….
So, it’s the night before my first Hospital IPPE, and I can’t tell if I’m more nervous or excited about what the day is going to bring. Will I get to be in an actual IV preparation room? Will I get to do an IV? Do I get to walk around and talk with the patients and listen to how my pharmacist interacts with them? All of these questions keep popping up in my mind, and I can’t wait to have an answer for you tomorrow.
It’s amazing isn’t it? Tomorrow I truly get a toe in the door to which I’ve been working towards since age 6. Wow, my dream is finally coming true, reality is hitting me. I’m officially a P2 student! I’m going to be a pharmacist in three short years, and that results in a smile from ear to ear that I’m going to take with me into my dreams. Good night to you all, and I’ll see you tomorrow!
2012 Graduation - Congratulations to all of our graduates!
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