A Lil Flash Back

I apologize for the delay! I have to say school and work definitely have been keeping me extra busy. But let’s be positive and instead of talking how busy + how much work second year is, I’m going to talk about my IPPE rotation that I did over the summer.

After the end of first year, we are required to complete a three-week summer rotation at a community pharmacy. My rotation site was at Cub Pharmacy (block 4) and to be honest, I wasn’t too thrilled about the rotation initially. I thought my rotation was going to be an awfully boring experience since I have previously worked at a retail pharmacy. I was dreading about it all summer until I met my preceptor and started working at my rotation site…… OH BOY! That was the BEST retail experience I have ever had in my life! 😀

Instead of filling prescriptions all day long, my preceptor actually spent time going over all the over-the-counter medications with me. He explained what each one was indicated for and what to recommend to patients. This was extremely helpful because I have had numerous customers coming in and asking for recommendations. I was able to give them recommendations based on what I learned from my preceptor. Besides learning about over-the-counter medications, I also had the opportunity to compound, give vaccinations, calling doctors to verify doses, counseling…. the list goes on! I’m so glad to have a preceptor who is so patient and willing to educate me! Other pharmacists and technicians were also very friendly and helpful when I didn’t understand something!

So here’s my wonderful IPPE rotation experience, I can’t wait till next summer when I start my IPPE at a hospital pharmacy 🙂

Picture of the week:

pdxSecond-year PDXers welcome all first-year students 🙂

To Join, or Not to Join..That is the Question!

In the past two weeks, we had the pleasure to get to know about the different organizations in the College of Pharmacy, coupled with lots of free lunches (thank you upperclassmen who coordinate them for us :D). Here are the list of organizations I would like to join:

1. Kappa Psi: Kappa Psi is a pharmaceutical fraternity that is the oldest and largest in the nation. I like its emphasis on the fellowship, sobriety, and leadership. Leadership is an area I want to improve on, and I get to do it with Big Brothers!

2. Hope Clinic: Hope Clinic is a student-run organization that provides care for the homeless population in Duluth Downtown. During the orientation this Saturday, we pharmacy students learned to take blood pressure using a stethoscope, met medical students who share the same goal of getting an early exposure to patient interaction and interprofessional care. We also had a chance to sit down at lunch and talk to the patients who visit the center, which was wonderful because we got to know them and hear their stories.

3. MPSA: MPSA is an “umbrella” organization that encompasses a wide range of national organizations that provide leadership and networking opportunities. Last Thursday, a group of upperclassmen representatives came and gave us a “mini” talk on each organization, speed-dating style. 😀 Here are some of them:

-NCPA (National Community Pharmacists Association) : Independent and community pharmacy organization to learn about business plan and opportunities to provide cheaper medication to underserved population.

-ASCP (American Society of Consultant Pharmacists) : After our field trip to the senior center at Hibbing, I came to appreciate the fact that the elders have close relationships with their pharmacists. I would like to explore more about working in the nursing home and hospice care.

-IPSF (International Pharmaceutical Student Federation) : This is an international organization where we have opportunities to travel to places like Switzerland and Netherlands to attend classes and learn about the worldwide health care system. We could shadow pharmacists in the region to see how different their daily life is from the pharmacists in the US. This is a good opportunity to become a well-rounded pharmacist who are knowledgable of different options and perspectives in the health care system.

4. MPSO: Multicultural organization because I want to get to know my classmates from different backgrounds.

My choices have no common theme and are kind of all over the places. BUT that’s the perk of being a PD1: we have unlimited options and we are free to explore many different areas of becoming the pharmacist.  As I progress into the year, I hope to familiarize myself with more meetings, conferences, and community experiences, and come to something that I genuinely like and feel connected to. But for now, I am SO excited for all the possibilities that is the life of a to-be-pharmacist.!

Flannel Fridays plus the huge ITV behind us ;D

PD1 Duluth on Flannel Friday

Thing’s I’ve seen in the Emergency Room

Over my first 5 days of my Emergency Medicine rotation I have seen quite a few things.

Some of the more gory things I have watched an ED physician do include:
– relocating a dislocated kneecap,
– realignment of shattered wrist bones under sedation

Some of the more scary things I have seen:
– Cardiac arrest
– Intubation
– Anaphylaxis

…..Seeing anaphylaxis in real life was scary.  Knowing that something like a simple bee sting, peanut butter, or seafood can cause a reaction like the one I saw today is alarming.  Knowing that some medications can cause this reaction makes me even more determined to identify and avoid patient drug allergies.

As a pharmacy student, I have been taught the importance of asking about drug allergies, but never has it seemed so important as it did to me when I saw anaphylaxis occurring in real life, in front of me.


So what IS anaphylaxis, and how can it be treated before getting emergency medical care?

Anaphylaxis is a life-threatening allergic reaction in which the body goes into a state of shock, making it hard to breath.  If severe enough, the patient has to be intubated and put on a respirator to breath.  People with known allergies may carry around an Epi-Pen, for those times when they accidentally come into contact with an allergen.



These Epi-Pens deliver a dose of medication that help to open up the airway so the patient can breath better, giving them ample time to get to a hospital for further care.  They are to be injected into the thigh of a person undergoing an allergic reaction, even though the person’s clothing!  If you know somebody with a history of an allergic reaction, encourage them to get an Epi-Pen, and learn how to help them use it if in case they are unable to.

And to all my future Pharmers out there, make sure you ask for drug allergies!  I wouldn’t want to be responsible for causing an anaphylactic reaction, especially after seeing one in real life.






Transpharmers…rolling back into action!

Hello blog followers!

Sorry for being MIA and not blogging for a quite some time now, we’ve been quite swamped with work, rotations, PD4 paper, volunteering, and family…but we are back 🙂

Where do we begin?  Since our last post about our PD3 white coat ceremony, we’ve official finished off our classroom education in May and started our rotations the week after our finals.  Currently, the both of us are on our Acute Care rotations at Allina Mercy and Fairview UMN.  Besides being mandatory, these Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experience (APPE) rotations give us a chance to apply what we’ve learned in the classroom into real life settings.  We will try our best to blog about our experiences at some of these sites to give you a better glimpse into the life of a PD4.

Prior to my Acute Care rotation, I was actually up North for my “rural” rotations in Grand Rapids, Minnesota.  This is one of the few rotation requirements at the University of Minnesota; that we do a rotation somewhere in “rural Minnesota”.  This gives us a chance to see the health disparities where there are less hospital and facilities to take care of patients in the hope that perhaps someday we would consider serving patients in these communities.  Though it was quite a long time away from home and my family, I thoroughly enjoyed the chance to learn from great pharmacists at Globe Drug and other health care providers in Grand Rapids, MN.

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I was in Grand Rapids from late July until the end of August and my sister will be up here in March.  This rotation helped me with coordinating housing and so I lived in a house on a golf course; the 9th hole was actually behind my backyard!  During my time there, I got a chance to practice my favorite hobbies, cooking and eating, and got a chance to go to local events like Tall Timber Days and the county fair.  In addition, I got a chance to also participate Project Care, a free clinic which provides health outreach services to uninsured people in the community.  Through this, I got a chance to meet great local physicians who fully support the vision of a medical home and inter-professional collaboration to holistically care for the patients.  They also invited me to an Asian fusion dinner fundraiser to help people living in poverty with money to buy fresh produce from the local farmer’s market each week where I got a chance to eat lots of great Asian food (cooked by Caucasians) and wonderful wine!  We had fresh spring rolls, salad with shredded savoy cabbage & braised pork, Pho, Kimchi and vegetable jasmine fried rice, green papaya salad with Thai basil and beef jerky, banana coconut bread pudding made with FM baguette topped with Brewed’s coconut gelato, and I even got to bring home some kimchi for lunch the next day…yum 🙂

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During the last week of rotations, I got a chance to go to my preceptor’s house to learn more about independent pharmacy ownership, cooked and had a Vietnamese dinner, and went out on the lake and enjoy the beautiful surrounding.  Just to let you know how rural Grand Rapids is, the day before I left, a big John Deere tractor came to the pharmacy drive-thru window!  If only there was a camera that caught my reaction when I saw guy pulls through! I was completely at lost for words and all I was able to say was, “…Umm…you have a really big vehicle there!…Can I take a picture?!?” lol

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Oh, btw, did you know that Judy Garland, who plays Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, was born in Grand Rapids, MN?  I didn’t until I passed by the sign on my way into work every morning 🙂  This rural rotation was so much fun and I greatly appreciate the warm hospitality throughout my time at Globe Drug in the “rural” town of Grand Rapids. They’ve all made my rotation/adventure in the Land of Oz very memorable and I can’t wait for my sister to come and experience it in March.

Below are some pictures from my time up North.  Enjoy!


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The Last Summer of All Time

My last year of classes has begun! It has gone incredibly fast, but I am so excited to finish coursework and get out into practice.

What does a 2nd/3rd year pharmacy student do during their summer break?

This summer (being possibly my last summer ever!?) was quite amazing. I started my summer off with my IPPE (Introductory Pharmacy Practice Experience) a three week rotation at United Hospital in Saint Paul. I had the most amazing experience shadowing a different pharmacist in nearly every area of practice every day, conducting a huge research project as part of my safety project, working on various other projects,  and one of the coolest experiences of my life was watching an open heart/aortic valve replacement literally right in front of me (geeking out)!!! I was lucky enough to have one of our Duluth counterparts Kauchee on rotation with me which made it extra enjoyable! A special thanks to Dr. Mandt and the entire Pharmacy Dept. at United hospital!


My project and presentation!


Kauchee and I with our preceptor.


Only about a week after my rotation we were back at United Hospital…. For the birth of our baby girl!

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After that the rest of summer was spent working at the hospital (with Dustin/fellow blogger!) before ending summer with a family vacation back to Colorado and California (of course Disneyland!).

Yeah, that's Mcqueen.

Yeah, that’s Mcqueen.


Go Broncos!

We got back just in time to start this next semester. Third year should be full of fun activities, professional meetings, and classes!

Until next time!

Back to the Grind

Hello World! I’m backkkkkkkkkk!

My summer was definitely way too short. I originally thought it was going to be a relaxing summer but it turned out to be quite a busy one. My summer consisted of Mexico, work, work, work, yoga, work, work, rotation, and then more work. Soon after we finished our last final, some fellow pharmacy students and I traveled to Puebla, Mexico, to provide free health-screenings in rural areas. It was such a great experience since I got to meet so many people, including students from Duluth! I also got to practice taking blood pressure and poking people’s fingers for glucose tests. I’m proud to say that I’m now a pro finger-poker 🙂  Besides my trip to Mexico, I started my internship at a home infusion pharmacy where I get to make IV drugs all day everyday! I think I’m gonna ace all my IV labs this semester. YAY.

Day 1 Clinic. 

Squeeze that finger! Work it girl!

Some downtime entertainment.

Now that summer is over and it’s time to get back to work! A lot of people have warned me about how crazy and stressful second year is going to be. Well, week one is over and I’d say so far so good. I’m trying to stay on top of everything and never let myself fall behind… but we’ll see how long this lasts. I just have to keep telling myself that I’LL BE OKAY.

Good to see these girls 🙂

Until next time!

My First Few days of ER Pharmacy

Today will be my third day in the ER.  You are probably wondering why I am posting this at 11:30 am….well my hours are a bit different than other rotations.  Since the Emergency Room sees the most traffic during the evening hours, most of my days start at 1pm and end at 9:30 pm.  I welcome this change of pace from other rotations, where getting up early is common.  I also appreciate the fact that I am there during the most eventful times, so I have the most opportunities to learn!

Day 1 and 2 were very eventful, and I got to see a number of different critical patients being cared for.  A number of patients required intubation, so I have gotten very familiar with Rapid Sequence Intubation (RSI), and the role of the Pharmacist in these situations.

During a RSI At Mercy Hospital, the pharmacist is in charge of the medications needed to sedate and paralyze the patient for intubation.  All of these medications are dosed based on weight, so the pharmacist has to be sure to know the dosing and be able to calculate things quickly.  There are a few options for sedation and paralyzation that should be selected according to the patient’s reason for needing intubation, lab values, and other medical conditions.  The pharmacist will help the physician to select the most appropriate medication, draw up the correct dose, and pass it along to the ER nurses for administration.

The pharmacists in this situation also ensure that the medications are given in the correct order:  so the patient is sedated BEFORE they are paralyzed for intubation.  Once the patient is paralyzed, they cannot communicate in any way that they are still awake and feeling pain or discomfort, so it is important to make sure the patient is sedated before administering paralytics.

Mercy Hospital is a Level II trauma center, and received this designation in 2010.  This means they have 24 hour care for patients, among other things.  Here is a link to their webpage with a video describing what needed to be done to gain this Level II status:


Im excited to continue learning about the roles of Pharmacists in Critical Care!

Thanks for reading!

– Heather

Back to Classes…not for me!

Today, the day after Labor Day, is the infamous “back-to-school” day for many.

For ME, it is the first of such days in about 20 YEARS that I will NOT be spending in a classroom, reading through syllabi and getting nervous about the requirements needed to pass each class.  WOOOHOOO!!!!


Today I start a new rotation, an elective rotation in the Emergency Room at Mercy Hospital in Coon Rapids, MN.  What do Emergency Room Pharmacists do?  Well I am about to find out!!


I became interested in this area of pharmacy last year, while doing my Institutional IPPE at Mercy Hospital Inpatient Pharmacy.  I spent half a day with Kim, an ER Pharmacist, and saw how all sorts of patients are treated upon arrival in the ER, including two heart attack patients, a stroke victim, and a dislocated shoulder.  Kim’s ability to anticipate and provide medications to these patients in an emergency situation inspired me to want to learn more.  I am happy to say she will be my preceptor for the next five weeks!


Stay tuned for updates on Pharmacy in the Emergency Room!

Just figured out how to post, so this is from July 29th….whoops!

Today marked the first day of my Community APPE rotation at Essentia Health 3rd Street Pharmacy in Duluth, MN.  Although technically my fourth year of pharmacy school started right after my third year ended, it sure feels like I was on summer vacation and now I am going back to school again….let me explain 🙂

It feels like I am “going back to school” again, because my first rotation was in Germany.  Yup….Germany!  (And no, I don’t speak fluent German, although that would be sweet!)  Nine other students and I spent 5 weeks learning about the German healthcare system, comparing and contrasting to the American system, with a specific emphasis on pharmacy.  There were so many unique experiences during this rotation that fascinated me and helped me to better understand the American Healthcare System through comparison.

I was in Europe for a total of two months and in addition to the amazing rotation, I visited 8 countries and saw and did so many amazing and fun things!  I have a hard time believing that I was there for one of my rotations because it was such a blast!

One of the coolest things about the trip was the camaraderie with my fellow classmates.  There were 4 students from the Duluth campus and 6 students from the Twin Cities campus.  The Duluth students didn’t really know the Twin Cities students before the trip, and vice versa.  However, it didn’t take long before we became a tight-knit group of friends 🙂

Below is a picture of our group in front of our “home away from home,” The Restaurant and Hotel Burgerstube.

German APPE, Class of 2014
German APPE, Class of 2014

My first day of my rotation went great!  I am excited to learn from my preceptor, who is the pharmacy manager, consults for hospice care, and has a wealth of compounding experience under her belt.  I also am excited that my preceptor set up an opportunity for me prepare and give a presentation on pharmaceutical topics of interest to a group of Dental Hygienists, and to attend a weekly journal club discussing pharmaceutical literature with a group of pharmacist and pharmacy students.  We also talked about setting up an opportunity for me to shadow a few Pharmacy Residents, so I can get a better idea if a residency after pharmacy school will be right for me.

I guess I failed to introduce myself, so I’ll keep it short: I am a Minnesota-born, Wisconsin-raised, Packer-Backer, Minnesota Twins fan 🙂

Until next time…
– Heather

State Fair Fun

On Saturday, a couple of my classmates and I went to the Minnesota State Fair in Minneapolis. The drive from Duluth is about two and a half hours, and it went by quickly as we listened to Taylor Swift on the radio and anticipated on what fried pickles would taste like !

What do I want? Dilemma...

When we arrived, we parked our cars about 30 minutes away from the state fair and took the shuttle bus operated by the state. It was a convenient service as it reduced the traffic and time spent on looking for a parking spot.

Sunny day

Sunny day

First thing I noticed was an array of food vendors with different colors, fonts, signs. A crowd of people were eating, walking, and enjoying the sun. We bought tickets to go on a ride and play arcade games.  My friend Daniel could not stop screaming on a rollercoster that was designed for kids around age 10-12. This was definitely not the Daniel I saw in class, initiating class discussions and helping me understand Library Resources. 🙂 We could throw darts, balls, and rings. My friend Wilson wanted to win a Minion as a prize. Through his fervent throwing of the rings, I found out that he really likes the Despicable Me.

Fried pickles with chocolate :)

Fried pickles with chocolate 🙂

Fried pickles had an interesting texture to them. The outer coat is crunchy, and the inner part, a regular pickle, is juicy. With the addition of chocolate, it is sour and sweet. Next time, I want to try them with the Ranch sauce!

Alpaca. My new favorite animal.

Alpaca, my new favorite animal.


Bacon ice cream. Yum. We shared root bear ice cream, battered potatoes, a turkey leg, fried fruits and olives, and lots of cookies. They were all very delicious. At the end of the day, we were full of the vitamin D from the sun as well.

Wilson, Jay, SyHui, Daniel, me, James, and Peter

Wilson, Jay, SyHui, Daniel, me, James, and Peter

Coming from Chicago, I always wondered what Minnesota would be like in terms of food and demographics. I would come again next year to re-experience the scene.  All in all, I am rejuvenated enough to delve into the classes starting on September 9th!