Our hard work is starting to pay off!

Never thought I would say having one exam and four quizzes was an easy week, but boy does it feel good. Second year is going amazing! Being able to at least attempt to have clinical conversations with the clinical pharmacists at in the hospital makes it all worth it, especially if you know the answer!

It has been a very challenging, but rewarding second year.

Project breathe was able to meet some amazing people, talk about cats, and was able to educate  patients on asthma at the MPSA health fair at the Shiloh Baptist Church.

In other news we recently found out we are going to have another member of our family sometime this summer!

Having our second child is a testament to the fact that you can absolutely have a family and be a student pharmacist.

In fact there are quite a few students with families in the program.

Happy Halloween!

Two down…two more to go!

So we just finished our physiology exam last Friday and microbiology today. There were soooooo many viruses and worms that we had to know the transmissions, symptoms and pathogeneses that I almost had a panic attack while I was studying for the test. After two nights of intense memorizing, I’m glad to say that the test turned out okay!  We have one more test for pharmaceutical care, another one for biochemistry on Friday and then we’re test-free for one week!

Okay, let’s talk about what I’ve been doing the past month. I’ve recently joined a professional pharmacy fraternity called Phi Delta Chi (PDX) and it offers students many opportunities to get involved within the pharmacy community. For example, this year they are working with the Philips Neighborhood Clinic (for those of you who don’t know it is, click here to check out the Transpharmers’ blog!) to administer influenza vaccines. Since first-year students are not trained in vaccine administration yet, we only  get to observe the second or third-year students while they give the flu-shots. Although I don’t actually get to give flu-shots, I’m still super excited to be able to volunteer at the clinic! 😀

I’ve also joined the “Pre-to-D Mentor Program”, where a first-year student gets paired up with a pre-pharmacy student. I met my mentee for the first time last week and we talked a lot about the application process as well as things that I did prior to getting accepted to the pharmacy school. We also talked about what it’s like to be a first-year student. I felt like I just kept feeding her information and I hope she wasn’t feeling too overwhelmed 😛

Some highlights of the week… (more like last week and the week before?)

PDX first-year cooks!
Us five girls were assigned to cook for all the PDX members. We made FOUR trays of pasta, some garlic bread and salad. It seemed like everyone enjoyed the food 🙂

“You never know until you try it…”

One of my favorite classes… LAB! You’re probably wondering what we’re doing here with all the weird glasses and gloves? For this lab, we get to experience what it is like to be old. As you get older, the chances of developing eye-related diseases increase. The glasses I had on actually represent a condition called diabetic retinopathy. With the tape on the glasses, I wasn’t even able to see the pill bottle that was in front of me, and the gloves made it 10 times more difficult to take a tiny pill out of the bottle!  This lab experience has definitely helped me understand older patients better, and I truly think that having a deeper understanding of the patients  is vital to providing good pharmaceutical care.

Now back to studying… until next time!

4th Year Is Awesome… Except I Miss My Classmates!

ImageAmongst the many FABULOUS parts of being a 4th year there are actually a few sad parts, the main one being (in addition to writing the onerous PharmD IV Paper) not seeing my pharmacy family every day. We grew so very close over the past three years. First Year you meet everyone, get to know each other, get some class jokes going, make some good friends. Then Second Year you all live breath and sleep school together, you see everyone at their most sleep deprived, crabby, lowest stages (my classmates have seen me looking my absolute worst!) and suddenly– you become more than a close class, you become family. Finally you emerge  into Third Year where you find you have become old-souls and are sImagetuck toughing out the oh-my-word-why-is-there-still-so-much-school-left classes together. You and your peers take on leadership roles and accomplish amazing things, power through a boat load of assignments, and commiserate about classes together. In addition to this, I got to know and be close with so very many upperclassmen who have since left for their 4th years and graduated, as well as underclassmen who I now get to see oh-so-infrequently, not to mention the amazing faculty. I truly think I know almost every person in the classes above and below me and in the classes above and below those. I made some of the best and closest friendships of my life, and I miss all of these people!

This is one of the things I truly value most about having attended the Duluth Campus- the smaller class size and opportunity to know absolutely everyone in my class, and know them well. The Duluth College really has an amazing, fun, supportive, active, leadership-oriented close-knit culture, one that I am proud to have been shaped by and to have contributed to. This is not remotely a knock against attending the Twin Cities campus, because I know they have the same thing, but happening in subsets of the class. But the beauty, to me, of having been part of my smaller knew-everyone class is comparative to my experiences having been on sports teams and in orchestras-  There is really something important and amazing about being a part of one, unified group in which you all know each other and work together well. It is something that I have and will continue to very highly value, and something that I’ve heard most people in Duluth comment on. It amazes me how many students say, “I wanted to go to TC but now that I’m here I’m SO happy I got Duluth!” – This describes my own experience as well. And I find that students I’ve met from other, similarly sized colleges or disciplines say the same thing about the perceived value of small class size. On the other hand, you still also absolutely get to be  a part of the larger UMN CoP Culture and enjoy being part of a large school with an amazing program. So to me, it has been the best of both worlds!

Then, poof – Fourth Year comes and you’re on rotations and it’s exciting and you learn a ton… except you almost only ever see one or two family members at the same time! Tho to be fair, part of this awesomeness is because the Class of 2013D is probably the greatest class the CoP has ever seen in all of time…. I mean, what other class has made a class music video ;)!? And perfect opportunities come up to use all those inside class jokes but no one who understands is around (MEAT, extreme throat clearing, akathesia, splash zone, and tchuss, to name just a bare few!). So basically, this post is just a shout-out to all of my classmates, upper and lower, Duluth and TC and extra-especially the most-epic 2013D- I MISS YOU ALL! We have so far made good use of professional meetings and classmates events to get larger groups of us together, including the MSHP Midyear Meeting (some 20-30 of us were there, and about 14 of us were able to make it to dinner together after), College Board-sponsored Duluth Days, the APhA-ASP Midyear Meeting in Fargo, and different classmates weddings.Image I am very much looking forward to many more events to get back together with my classmates and the many underclassmen I miss, including PDX initiation in Duluth, MPhA Pharmacy Nights,  ASHP Midyear Meeting in Vegas, the Bonspiel in Duluth, the CoP Talent Show in Duluth, the APhA Annual Meeting in Los Angeles, the Pub Crawl in Duluth, and hopefully many many more!


Well Hello There!

Hi World! My name is Susan and welcome to my blog! Being a student blogger is something that I’ve always wanted to do since I was a pre-pharmacy student and here I am! Boy, words just cannot explain how pumped I am to be a blogger! I’m mainly going to be blogging about my life during the first year of pharmacy school. What I really want to show you readers out there is the behind-the-scene of what it’s like to be a pharmacy student here at the University of Minnesota. I’m planning to update this blog about once a week so stay tuned for the updates!

Can I just say time flies when you’re having fun? I think this truly applies to pharmacy school! I can’t believe it’s already October! It feels like we just had our orientation yesterday and now we’re halfway done with our first semester already! The first few weeks of school were definitely overwhelming, especially with all the emails and meetings. But things have slowed down after that and I’m finally starting to get used to the class workloads so that’s always a plus 🙂

It’s getting late here and I should probably head to bed… I’ll make a post about what I’ve been doing (besides studying and working, HAHA) the past month in details next time!

Here’s a picture of my lovely classmates getting some reading done between classes!
By the way, this is the classroom where we first year students have all of our lectures 😀

Until next time…..

Busy, busy bees & the PNC!

Hello everyone!

For the past two weeks, we’ve been so swamped with exams and assignments that we had no time to post anything.  Can’t believe that we are now halfway into October already!  Time does fly by when you are super busy.  We do a have lots of things currently that’s required for 3rd year pharmacy school and on super important task of every third year student…setting up your life for the entire year next year aka selecting rotation sites!  The process of selecting rotation sites can be quite cumbersome and frustrating for many students which entails: looking at rotation sites (APPE) under each categories like patient care, ambulatory care, acute care, community, institutional, and electives like academia, management, psych, etc…seeing which one we are interested in and see if it requires an interview, setting up those interviews, putting in our selections, and then cross our fingers and hope to get your first choice!  Besides this, we are also trying to figure out a topic to write our PDIV paper, an element that we must complete in order to graduate.  But enough about school…we wanted to share with you something fun that we really enjoyed doing here at the University of Minnesota which is volunteering at the Phillips Neighborhood Clinic (PNC).

Currently I am the Operations Chair for the PNC, a free student-run clinic that serves the marginalized patients in the Phillips neighborhood in Minneapolis that does not have access to healthcare.  The entire PNC Admin Board and I were very busy last weekend as we had our Orientation and Mock Clinic for the new volunteers.  It was extremely exciting!  It’s so nice to see ~150 new and enthusiastic faces that are willing to offer their time and service despite their busy schedule and heavy course load.  This will be our third year volunteering at the PNC and we love every minute of it!  Both my sister and I love the two-fold mission at the PNC:  1. To aim to provide culturally appropriate, quality, interdisciplinary health care and education services to members of the Phillips neighborhood with the hopes of improving both access to health care and quality of life within the community; and 2. To also strive to provide professional students with the skills they need to become effective and compassionate health care providers to those who are under-insured and unstably housed.

The PNC provide a wide array of services including medical care, nursing care, physical therapy, pharmaceutical dispensing, pharmaceutical care, nutrition counseling, social work, mental health counseling, foot care, care coordination, flu shots, and public health services in order to decrease fragmentation of services and referral needs.  Volunteering at the PNC helped us to understand of the roles each discipline has in health care, how to communicate effectively in a team, and to become more effective and caring health professionals as we work our ways to become future pharmacists.  Currently, we have around 300+ student volunteers and 50 health care professionals from the schools of Nursing, Public Health, Physical Therapy, Medicine, Social Work and Pharmacy volunteering at the PNC.  Below are some pictures from the PNC Orientation.  Enjoy 🙂


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Dear Kidneys, Thanks For Making Urine!

My Solid Organ Transplant rotation ended last week, and I’m really sad to leave it behind. It took me a while to get into the swing of how hospital works and understanding the transplant schedule. The more I work on transplant, the more grateful I am that all of my organs work, and I have started wanting to take very good care of them!! Time for an overview of being a 4th year student on the SOT and at Fairview, I think!

7:15-8:15: Look up your patients and write down all of their over-night lab values and medication changes. I was assigned 4-6 patients to follow at a time (the pharmacist, of course, manages to track all 20+ while I handled this amount).

7:30-9:30: Starting anywhere in that range, the organ transplant teams start rounding. At Fairview they are broken up into 3 smaller teams, Kidney, Liver, and Pancrease+Auto Islet Cells. Each rounding team consists of 1 surgical fellow, 1 NP or PA, the pharmacist, the social worker, sometimes the nutritionist, and any students. While other floors have regularly scheduled rounds (ex: Cystic Fibrosis floor rounds at 9am), these teams round whenever the fellow comes up to the floor and has a chance- they just swing past the pharmacy desk (located in the work room along with the SOT team members) and say, “Kidney is rounding!”. On rounds the team discusses each patient on their service, looking at recent lab values, any changes over night, determining therapy for the coming day (Ex: for a new transplant patient, what should the days cellcept, prednisone, thymoglobulin, and valgancyclovir doses be and is the patient ready to start a CNI? Which CNI?). They then go in the room and chat with the patient, find out how they are doing, if they have any concerns, and do a short physical assessment of breathing and the surgical sight (or other if they are not a new transplant patient). The pharmacist pushes a computer cart during rounds and is able to answer any questions about current or past medication use by the patient, and has access lab values especially infectious disease cultures and sensitivity data, and uses this opportunity to make therapeutic recommendations for initiation/discontinuation, as well as be tied in to understanding the treatment plan for the day. From my observations, the pharmacist was of especial utility to the team in recommending appropriate antibiotic therapy and noticing potential interactions in the proposed antibiotic plan. Each team has only about 2-6 patients on it’s service so rounds are not too long, but as pharmacy attends all the teams (as possible), they can be on rounds for some time.

End of rounds-12: Students have time to dig more deeply into each of the patients they were assigned. I got to read notes back through the entire visit as well as prior admissions, look at all electrolyte trends, analyze immunosupression trough levels, vancomycin trough levels, warfarin and heparin levels, check up on the medication plan for the day and if it followed the protocols, look for drug interactions, etc. I had a wonderful amount of time to do some independent study on things I have forgotten or never knew (Up To Date is such a nice resource!). I tried to also research any conditions in the PMH that I was unfamiliar with and get to know my patients as well as possible- The pharmacist told me, “These are your patients. You have to take responsibility for them.”

12:00-1:00: All Fairview APPE Students attend lunch lecture. Some weeks lectures are provided by Fairview pharmacy faculty members on topics from Hospital Aquired Pneumonia to Diabetic Ketoacidosis, other weeks they are student prepared case presentations. I am one of about 15 students currently at Fairview, and we each take turns presenting a patient of ours to eachother, which means we get a review of a number of topics as well as get to hear about the many services we are each on in the hospital, form ICU to oncology and BMT! I presented a SOT patient last block who had Post Transplant Lymphoproliferative Disorder.

1:00-2:00ish: You have a short time to come back and check up on your pateints one last time to see if anything new has happened – perhaps new ABX cultures have come back or new immunosupression trough levels. Review your patients and be ready to present.

2:00-Leave: Around 2/2:30 the pharmacist would spend time with me. I presented my findings on my patients  with a background if they were new, or just updates if they were not. It took me a while to get the hang of this, but instead of pointing out problems I found, I was asked to present my solutions to the problems I found, including a plan for how to adjust immunosuppresion doses, change blood pressure meds, etc, as well as an assessment of what medication changes had already been made by the providers, why they had changed, and if they seemed appropriate (indicated, appropriate, dosed appropriate and corrected for renal function, etc). Then we would also discuss my “homework” – topics that I was assigned the day before to look-up overnight. I would give a description of what I had found out and the pharmacist spent some time teaching me more on the topic including filling in details I had missed. Everything from IV iron therapies to different antibioitic coverages. Also during these discussions we often found new holes in my knowledge that I was then assigned for the coming evening. At the very end of it all, the pharmacist brought any concerns she had to the PA/NP team members, sometimes having me do so.

On this rotation I also had assigned textbook and article readings, a project to develop index cards on immunosupression drugs and protocols, and helped conduct medication histories. I learned and got to practice managing patient TPN (total parenteral nutrition, aka IV nutrition), adjusting immunosuppression, adjusting vancomycin and aminoglycosides, managing warfarin and heparin, and practicing my knowledge of antibiotic coverage.

While it took me a few weeks to hit my stride (and goodness knows I could have used at least a few more weeks to really get better), I ended up LOVING my time in the SOT. A fascinating patient population. It was amazing to see people who improved dramatically after their transplant, although also an opportunity to see and care for some very very sick people. You never heard so much talk about bowel function and urine in your life! Both of the Fairview transplant pharmacists were wonderful and I learned a lot from them. I still try to bump into them from time to time!!

At the end of 5 weeks of talking about peoples kidneys making urine, I just have to thank mine a little bit and I suggest next time you grumble that you have to get up to pee that you say the same: Dear Kidneys, thanks for making urine!!


American Pharmacist Month Antics!

For good luck!

Just hanging with Lucy celebrating American Pharmacist Month!

Duluth Days at Glensheen Mansion!

Hello everyone!


Sorry for being MIA last week but that was probably the roughest week of school that we had so far.  “Who ever told you that the Fall semester of 2nd year in pharmacy school was the hardest and that everything is downhill from there…LIED!” Dr. Doneka Scott, our PDIV Paper professor, warned us on the first day of class.  We have so much busy work, lots of projects, homework, papers, exams, and in the midst of that, we still have work, church, and duties at home that we had to take care of.  Though school is starting to become overwhelming, I am glad that I am in the last year of classes and look forward to rotations. 


Two weeks ago, I had a chance to check out the Duluth campus after 3 year in pharmacy school.  Duluth day is a yearly event that the College Board, the governing student body here in the College of Pharmacy, puts together in September after 2 weeks of classes. Over 40 students from the Twin Cities campus decided to attend along with 200+ students from Duluth. This was the biggest showing that College Board had ever had for Duluth day.  The event happened at the Glensheen Mansion and the weather cooperated beautifully with us.  We drove up to Duluth in time for lunch and ate at Blackwood’s Restaurant, our caterer for the Duluth Day event as well.  We then attended lecture, and I got to see my sister on the other side of the screen!  Thank you to our Duluth classmates for sharing their seats with us so that we can have a great spot to sit and take notes during lectures.  After class, some of our colleagues in Duluth took us to Enger’s Tower where we took many awesome pictures!  We then swung by Fitger’s, a local brewery, and had happy hour there.  Then we headed to the mansion, ate very good food, mingled with students from all 4 years, and took many more great pictures.   Enjoy the pictures!  🙂

Thanks Duluth!

-Phat T. 

PS. Due to the size of the pictures, I’ve only uploaded a few on this blog.  Feel free to check out our other blog page for the entire album.   http://transpharmers.wordpress.com/2012/10/01/duluth-days-at-glensheen-mansion/ 

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Where did September go?!

Hello fellow bloggers and blog followers!

I’m Tawny, a PD3 and a native Californian on the Duluth campus.  I’m excited to be up and blogging now after a busy start to third year!  The first few weeks of school is always fun as everyone is getting to know the incoming first years and there are tons of meetings and events occurring on an almost daily basis.  I still can’t believe it’s our last year in the classroom before we’re off on rotations.  I’ve been in Minnesota for over 2 years already?!  Wow, time has flown by so fast!

The crew at Good Price Pharmacy, Innisfail.

Since this past summer was my “last summer off” as a student, I was lucky enough to spend it doing some traveling in the Cook Islands, Taiwan and Australia.  I even got to spend 4 weeks working in an Australian pharmacy.  My bf, Tony, did the Student Exchange Program through IPSF (International Pharmaceutical Students’ Federation) and I was able to go with him and fortunate enough to be able to work with him in the pharmacy.  It was a phenomenal experience to see how pharmacy is practiced in another country and to not only bring back ideas that could be integrated into future practice, but also provide our own insight and knowledge to their practice of pharmacy.  I was able to use what I learned last year in pharmacotherapy to educate a patients and uncover a few drug therapy problems.  I informed a patient that her 3-month long dry cough could possibly be from her ACE inhibitor and to speak to her doctor about possibly trying a different class of medication.  After learning a patient was experiencing unexplained muscle pain/soreness, I was able to look at his med list and educate him about a drug interaction between simvastatin and amlodipine, which could cause myopathy in patients.  BOOM intervention!  The pharmacy was able to document the two interventions and credit them towards their Quality Control Protocol.  Besides the experience gained in the pharmacy, we met so many fantastic people, had the chance to do quite a bit of sightseeing and even dove the Great Barrier Reef!  If anyone is interested in learning about pharmacy and healthcare in other countries, I would highly suggest taking the International Pharmacy elective (offered in the Spring) or looking into the Student Exchange Program at http://www.ipsf.org/.

Tony’s turtle high-five.

This year started off quickly and before I knew it we were already 4 weeks into the semester and the leaves were already changing into beautiful hues of red, orange and yellow (with pictures to come).  I’ve been outside running, but keep forgetting to snap a few pictures.  I don’t get much of the 4 seasons back at home, so I get extra excited when fall comes around because everything just looks so pretty! UMD PharmD just had their annual Wine and Cheese party this past Friday, which was a much needed break from school after a long week and our first 2 exams of third year.  It’s always a great event to get everyone together before the semester gets too hectic and a special shout out to the INR (Isaac, Nate and Roger) house for hosting all of us!

Before I go, I just want to wish everyone a happy American Pharmacists Month!  Throughout the whole month of October, we will be promoting pharmacy and trying to get the public more aware of how accessible pharmacists are!  So remember, “Know your medicine, know your pharmacist!”