Kappa Psi YMCA Healthy Kids Day + ACCP Meeting

Kappa Psi had a pledge project at the YMCA center today. YMCA Healthy Kids Day was to help set up & interact with kids with activities such as arts & crafts, face painting, and bouncy house. I was glad to have taken my time out of the weekend to volunteer with my fellow Kappa Psi Pharmers.






Scrumptious lunch at Va Bene. A must-go Italian restaurant in Duluth

Scrumptious hummus panini at Va Bene. A must-visit when you are in Duluth!


Two weeks ago, I attended ACCP meeting that was held in Chicago. The topic was “How to Become a Standout Residency Candidate.” Over the course of two days, we heard speeches from the directors and professors from pharmacy schools across the states about researches, building resumes, and preparing for the interview. One of the tips that resonated with me came from Dr. Rodgers, a clinical associate professor at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. She said that when confronted with questions that one does not know, it is quiet appropriate to say “I do not know the answer to this question, but I promise that I will get back to you after researching it.” This is not necessarily a bad answer; but it is an honest answer. In addition, she empathized the importance of a Thank You note. Email works fine, but a sincere, hand-written note after interview is always the best. After the speeches, we had CV-resume workshop and a roundtable where we were free to ask any questions to current residents in pharmacy.  CV workshop was tremendously helpful: I fixed mine and added some details, that I would have never caught if I had not reviewed it with a P3 pharmacy student from New York who sat next to me. (For example “volunteered as a student ambassador” vs. “volunteered three times a semester as a student ambassador”). I never considered going into residency prior to attending this meeting, however, I was able to come out of it with a hopeful and competent mindset that residency is one of the possible areas I could explore in my P3 year.



Solid Organ Transplantation

Wow, it has been almost 15 weeks since I last posted.  I’ve been caught up with my Acute Care Rotations at the University of Minnesota Medical Center – Fairview; it’s been an amazing experience, and I have learned so much!

Let me tell you about one of my 5 week experiences.  I’ll have to post later on the other two… 

Block 7: Solid Organ Transplant
During this rotation I followed patients who were admitted for a kidney, liver, pancreas, or simultaneous kidney-pancreas transplant.  Some patients I followed post-operatively, as they were admitted after a deceased-donor was identified and immediately went into surgery upon arrival to the hospital.  Other patients were admitted a day or two before their planned kidney transplant from a living-donor, either a related-donor or a living-unrelated-undirected kidney.  It always was amazing to think of how selfless and generous a person was to donate a kidney, either to somebody they know OR somebody they don’t know!  Most kidney transplant recipients have been on dialysis for YEARS, so getting a kidney gives them back some freedom and time, as they hopefully won’t need to go for thrice weekly dialysis runs for 4-6 hours. 

A typical day consisted of getting to Unit 7A around 7am, and looking at my patients, collecting lab values and reading progress notes – basically combing through their chart to find any concerns I may have about their medication therapy that I can bring up with the team during daily rounds.  Rounds are organized by the transplanted organ: kidney, pancreas, and liver.  The pancreas team usually covers the simultaneous kidney-pancreas transplant patients.  The team consists of a midlevel provider (Nurse Practitioner, NP, or Physicians Assistant, PA), the Pharmacist, Social Worker, Nurse, Dietician, and the Attending Physician.  Outside of every patient’s room, the team discusses progress the patient is making, plans for the day, and addresses concerns with lab values or medications.  Then the Attending physician, midlevel provider, and nurse enter the room and assess the patient.  After assessing the patient, they leave the room and again huddle around in a circle outside the patient’s room and talk about how the patient is doing and what the plan is; and if I had a concern, this is when I’d bring it up!  Other healthcare providers were always nice and receptive to my suggestions or concerns, and if I was wrong to be concerned about something – they’d take the time to teach me why! 🙂

I learned alot about the managment of patients pre and post transplant, including monitoring improving renal, pancreas and kidney function following transplant, following protocols for inducing immunosuppression, monitoring and modifying immunosuppression regimens according to drug levels, and evaluating the patient on an individualized basis.

This was my first acute care rotation, so it was a STEEP learning curve.  All the drugs that are used frequently on an outpatient side I was pretty familiar with, but IVIG? mycophenolate? sirolimus?  Woah, I had to refresh my memory quite a bit.

One of the coolest things about this rotation was seeing how grateful the patient’s were for receiving a transplant.  I had conversations with new admits when reviewing their Prior-To-Admit medication lists, and some expressed to me their feelings when they received the call about an organ being ready for them.  Some people cried for joy, some were sad, knowing a person had died in order for them to get an organ, some described it as “the best call they had ever recieved.” 

My sister works as a nurse on the transplant floor, and I now have a deeper understanding of how difficult but rewarding her job is.

Thanks for reading! – Heather
Stay tuned for my next post, describing my experience in the Cardivascular ICU…

Graduation Countdown: 15 days!!!!
Wedding Count Down: 44 days! 🙂

A Magical Time at APHA

At the end of March I was lucky enough to attend my first national pharmacy meeting in Orlando, Florida. The annual APHA conference was thankfully held in a warm place this year. It was a nice change of scenery for awhile! I was impressed with how many students attended the conference this year. This was my first time attending, so I didn’t fully know what to expect. However, I had such a great time. With the conference starting on a Friday we traveled on Thursday.

We were able to have half a day at Disney World before the conference began. I hadn’t been there since I was about seven years old- things are very different here as an adult! One of my classmates used to work at Disney World the semester before she started pharmacy school. It was fun to travel with a Disney professional. She knew all the secrets about behind the scenes at Disney, which made the trip much more interesting! Our APHA advisor for MPSA Dr. B made the trip with us too! We made reservations at the Crystal Palace in the park for dinner and got to eat with the cast of Winnie-the-Pooh coming around! It was a great way to start our trip!

The conference went from Friday to Monday. Being a student there are many student activities to attend. I got to sit in on different policy meetings coming up with new policies for pharmacy, student award meetings, and interact with students running for APHA-ASP positions. It was a great first national conference to attend. I’m looking forward to attending more of these as a student and as a practicing pharmacist!





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This is the gang at Disney World!


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The picture on the left is of the PD2 students from the Duluth campus

And the picture on the right is of me and my friend Lauren having fun in one of the photo booths at the conference!


Sorry this one is sideways! The theme of the conference was I mustache you to be the change. We found these bars of soap at Downtown Disney and just had to take a picture!

PNC Silent Action

A few weeks ago, the Philips Neighborhood Clinic (PNC) hosted their annual silent auction McNamara Alumni Center. All the proceeds went to the operational cost of PNC. Although we had a snow storm, the event still turned out great! Enjoy the pics! Oh, and enjoy the warm weather!!!! 😀

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Ice Cave Adventures

This winter I was able to have a weekend adventure to explore the Apostle Island Ice Caves! They have been a popular winter attraction. I had no idea what I was in for, but it was amazing. We may have gone on the busiest day they had. I could overhear the park rangers saying it was a record breaking day for visitors. We had to park our car about 2 miles from the park, then walk another mile to the ice caves. It was an exhausting day, but totally worth it!

You could hear the ice creaking as you would walk around, which was a little freaky. However, the sites were incredible. It was a fun adventure with some classmates! I am so excited we got the chance to go!


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Swab a Cheek, Save a Life!

Today was the first day of Bone Marrow Drive hosted by Multicultural Pharmacy Student Organization. I have to admit, I wasn’t really sure what the Drive actually entailed until I volunteered today. There were some misconceptions that I had, such as imagining myself with a giant needle in my spine, with a lot of blood pooling around. But it was not at all like that. All the sign-up process required was a simple filling-out the information and cheek-swab to be registered as a donor. Once in the system, I may or may not be matched with someone who needs a bone marrow transplant. Once I am matched with someone, I go to the hospital to donate my bone marrow, but 70% of the actual process does not involve a giant needle on my back. It is done by a blood transfusion method, and I will get to go home on the same day.

I was surprised to find out that only 2% of the U.S is registered as a donor. That is the tiniest of the tiniest portion of Minnesota alone. I did not know a simple cheek swab could save a life, had it not been Bone Marrow Drive.





Hello readers!

It’s been a busy couple of weeks with Spring Break and APhA Annual in sunny Orlando. I’m hitting that time in the year when I struggle to find motivation.

Spring Break was much needed! I went home and basically bummed around and hung out with my friends and family and recharged. I came back, had an exam and headed out for APhA. It was such a great experience for so many reasons:

1. It was a great time for me to catch up and spend time with our counterparts in the Twin Cities. Having gone to the Twin Cities for my undergrad, I knew a couple of people already but I met so many more wonderful people and it was a generally just a great way for me to connect with our counterparts that I always see on screen.

^Intercampus Bonding! Yes… I do love me a good duck-faced selfie!

2. It was really interesting to be a part of the conference events, seeing how as students, we’re working on doing things that impact how we will practice. It was fun seeing where the policies that the national organization promotes originate. It was also really great to see what other schools were doing (in addition to what we do here) to help promote our profession.

3. It was a great networking opportunity! I’m definitely not a strong networker, and find it hard to strike up conversation with practicing pharmacists because I have a hard time finding ways to approach them. However, with other students, it’s so easy to find something in common. We met people from all over the country, from Tennessee, Missouri, Texas, Indiana, and it was so easy to approach them (most of them were PDX so we just walked up to them and introduced ourselves!).

4. It was warm and sunny! We greatly enjoyed our time by the poolside!

Our hotel pool


And just for funsies:

I’m definitely looking forward to going to APhA 2015 in sunny San Diego, California. And if anybody is on the fence about going, DO IT!!!! If nothing else, you can get away from the snow and enjoy some sunshine! I was hoping the snow would have been gone by the time I got back, but we just had a snow storm last week. On the bright side, we had another snow day on Friday which gave us an extra weekend to study (or think about how we should be studying)!!! And it’s slowly but surely warming up, and the snow is melting. Spring is almost here (hopefully)!


In other news… we had PDX elections today! Congratulations to the new e-board! It’s going to be another great year ahead!

Black and White Ball

Last Friday was Black and White Ball hosted by GAPSA and Kappa Psi, it was a night of dancing and getting to know med school friends and pharmily a little better!!





So much for “Spring”!

While we await the end of this never ending winter much of our time has been spent indoors, so we have made the most of it!

A few weeks ago I attended the Minnesota Society of Health Systems Pharmacist’s 2014 Annual Conference. I had a wonderful time; it was nice to brake the monogamy of classes and the conference offered some unique and rewarding experiences. The conference was held at the beautiful River Center in St. Paul right next to the Excel Energy Center. There were many great lectures from topics on bacterial pneumonia to newly approved drugs. Also, there was a student speed networking session that allowed students to pick the brains of pharmacists in different areas including residencies, infectious disease, industry, administrative pharmacy, and critical care to name a few. There was also a residency research showcase that was a great resource to see what types of research pharmacy residents are doing and gave me great ideas for my own poster/future presentations.

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Since we are still waiting for the sun to come out we have had our family fun return to the Children’s Museum and some other fun indoor playgrounds near campus.

Baby Madi is also causing chaos with her recent crawling/standing/generalized trouble making and Kaiden is all ready for kindergarten next year!

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 Till next time!

Catching Up

Another snow day has arrived in Duluth. I would say this is our 4th snow day. 🙂


Recently, things that are going on since our spring break: We started our day with Research Symposium, which is an all-day event where students, professors, and residents present their research posters they worked on previous semesters. It was very interesting to see all the different varieties of topics and research areas. One that has particularly interested me was the access to healthcare in underserved population, and how the administration of medication affects psychiatric release/re-admission. It was very relaxed, and laid-back, and we were free to ask any questions as we went around each section.


Elections, elections! There are many elections being held for 2014-2015 positions in many organizations, namely Kappa Psi, MPSA, MPSO, UMD PharmD..etc! Through e-mail, anyone can nominate anyone or themselves. Then, we bring clickers and listen to the 1 min speech of each candidate. It may be a daunting process, but it is also cool to see how the e-board for next year is being formed.


As for classes, medicinal chemistry and pharmacology are HARD. They are more integrated with each other, so one must know one subject in order to know the other (vice versa). But the good thing is, it makes studying easier in some degree. As knowing one thing in one class leads to doing well in the other class as well. I am making notecards, re-watching the lectures, and using my precious snow-day to catch up on some work. Hopefully, it is not our last one yet! Well actually, it’s April, so I hope it is our last one.