MPSA Chipotle Fundraiser

Tonight we had a fundraiser for Minnesota Pharmacy Student Alliance (MPSA) at Chipotle in Duluth. We are near the end our month long celebration of American Pharmacists Month with a great event to spread the word about what your pharmacist can do for you as well as fundraise for all that MPSA does! Two of my awesome classmates were able to borrow some costumes to help spread the word of our fundraiser.

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Awesome job Kyle and Jonathon!!

We had a great turn out from what I could tell when I was there for dinner! Dean Seifert was there to support MPSA!! Also, Dr. Schweiss brought a group of people for added fundraising!! Thanks for the support everyone who showed up for some excellent food for a good cause!

ASHP Clinical Skills Competition


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Yesterday, I had an amazing experience of participating in the ASHP Clinical Skills Competition. For those who are not familiar, ASHP Clinical Skills Competition is held annual in Twin Cities and Duluth campus and is organized by American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (To see examples of cases, click here). Basically, each group of two students is presented with a real-life scenario of clinical case encountered in a hospital setting. Then, we navigate through a mirage of health conditions, uncontrolled disease states, and current medication list to construct a therapeutic case plan. Each case plan identifies goals of the treatment (ex. To lower blood cholesterol level in 2 weeks), recommendations for therapy (ex. Provastatin 10 mg PO once daily), and the methods of monitoring parameters (At the next visit, follow up with a lipid panel: Total cholesterol must be <200mg/dl, and LDL level <190mg/dl). The time limit is 2 hours. Then, we present our case to the panel of judges from Twin Cities and Duluth in 15 minutes. We are asked why we were given specific agent over the other, and what was our rationale in choosing specific therapy (ex. Why did you decide to prescribe both provastatin and rosuvastatin for cholesterol therapy?). At the battle field (read competition), I saw a glimpse of what real clinical pharmacist may encounter on a daily basis. First, it is not always black and white as to which symptoms the patient is experiencing corresponds to which health condition. A rise in temperature may signal that she has a cold (based on her present symptoms of a runny nose, headache, and stuffy nose). OR, it may due to her diagnosed condition of periocardititis (inflammation of pericardium, a thin membrane surrounding the heart). So when we explore possible monitoring parameters, we must be specific as to what we are looking for for the clearance of condition. Also, for the patients who has multitude of conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, and COPD, it is imperative to ensure there are no drug-drug interactions between the medications she currently takes. For example, the inhalers prescribed for COPD, such as albuterol, are beta agonists, which bind to the beta receptors on the lungs and stimulate the dilation of bronchial muscles, leading to the relaxation of airways. For hypertension, the patient is also prescribed beta antagonists, which also produces the opposite effect on the bronchial muscles by binding to the beta receptors in the lungs and inhibiting the action of dilation of bronchial muscles. Such interaction between two opposite class of drugs may increase the risk of bronchospasm. As a pharmacist, we must be aware of the fact that one medication may bind to different receptor sites in our body, and cause different results on the different parts of our body (called reduced selectivity). It is our role to ensure that each medication has the specificity (determines the rate of the effect) and selectivity (determines the site of the action) to act on the organ of interest, and to weigh the benefit to risk options to provide the safest and the most effective therapy for the optimal health of the patient.

Homecoming 2014

Can you believe that I’ve never been to a single gopher game in my entire life, even though I went here for undergrad?!?!? UNBELIEVABLE!!!! Well, I finally had the chance to the past week during fall break! And did you know that the College of Pharmacy has a pre-game reception and you get to have free food??! I certainly didn’t know about that! Also went to the Iggy concert hosted by the Student Unions & Activities. Good weather, good game, good concert, good food, good everything!


Minnesota vs Purdue. Go Gophers!

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Gone With the Wind

Gone with the wind: fall break that is. It seems as though yesterday I was both excited and grateful for arrival of the fall break. Since then, the time has flied so quickly, and so did the colors of the leaves! Over the break, I went down to Illinois to see my family, and went to see some beautiful leaves in Starved Rock State Park in Utica, Illinois. For anyone who is an avid lover of hiking and/or taking pictures, I would highly recommend it.

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Just before the Fall Break, we had a pharmacology exam I that was 40% percent of our grade. We had had a practice exam the Monday before, a high-stake, low-grade exam, that was only 5% of our grade, meant to help us prepare for the real exam. Well, this was good because it gave me some realistic sense of how much studying was needed to be done. During the real pharmacology exam, with the materials tested on hypertension medications (ARBs, ACEI, diuretics), I hope we all did better than the excruciating pain practice exam brought. So when it was done, it was time for some celebration with friends and, of course, food! We went out to Va Bene to have some delicious food (recommend: steak tip salad)


And this aethereal view of the Lake Superior overlooking the Aerial Lift Bridge: *jaw drop*



Is Third Year Still Happening?

Hello readers,

It’s been a while, a long while. I blame third year. Second year was rough with exams every week, and so much to learn. Third year is proving to be a different kind of difficult.. difficult to stay motivated! I see the light at the end of the tunnel.. it’s so close! But it’s so very difficult to stay motivated and keep up the drive to get things done. There’s so much going on outside of school. I had two weekends of festivals (garbas!), fall break, and our new year is coming up. Not to mention APPE selections are open until the 30th! I’m still studying and learning wonderful things, I’m just not being very proactive. I’m still very involved, I just spend less time paying attention in class and more time on emails, agendas, and meeting ideas. You could say I’ve started a senior slide, but the important thing is that I learn from my mistakes, and that you do too!

One of my bigger struggles is finding a topic for a PharmD IV paper. It’s hard for me to picture working on something for an entire year and not losing interest in it. It’s not that I don’t love pharmacy, it’s that I don’t love papers. So for all of you pre-pharmers, PD I and PD II students, start thinking about a topic NOW! Start doing research NOW! You’ll thank me for it later.

I’ll work on coming up with more pearls for you all during my next few weeks of intense laziness and slacking. Hopefully you’ll hear from me within the semester. But don’t hold your breath. Motivation. Is…… eh.. I’ll figure out something crafty later..

Fall “Break”

So the word “Fall Break” seems like a simple enough concept.  Us hardworking pharmacy students have been hitting the books (er, ipad) hard for the past two months and deserve a little break time to just hang out, binge watch TV shows and sleep until noon.  Let’s break down the term to see how much it really applies:

Fall (n):the season of the year that comes after summer and before winter; autumn.

Well let’s ask ourselves, is it fall? I would say yes; this picture epitomizes that wonderful season full of pretty leaves and pumpkin spice lattes that is nestled between summer and winter.

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Moving on to….

Break (n): (1) an abrupt, significant, or noteworthy change or interruption in a continuous process, trend, or surface (2) :  a respite from work, school, or duty.

While we indeed did not have school this past Thursday and Friday (aka an abrupt, significant, or noteworthy change or interruption in a continuous process), I would not go as so far to say that this has been a break from work, school or duty. On deck for next week: 3 exams,  a paper, a pre-lab, a post discussion, and probably multiple things I am forgetting and a handful of other things I totally should be doing. So this long weekend is more of just a nice break from being pressed for time every moment of the day, but there is still plenty to be done… oh, the life of a pharmacy student.

Luckily, lots of exciting things have been happening in the midst of all this school work both last week and this next coming week so I can somehow stay sane throughout.

1) Kappa Psi pledging process: I am not quite sure how much about all this I can say since I am pretty sure I am somewhat sworn to secrecy, but I can say that I am very excited to be joining one of the three professional fraternities of campus! All of the fraternities place a large emphasis on community service, networking and professional development.

2) Phillip’s Neighborhood Clinic: U of M has an amazing student-run clinic that gives students hands-on experience applying what we learn in an underserved population.  Last weekend we had the PNC orientation, which was a great opportunity to see the clinic, learn about clinic flow and meet some of the students from other health schools that we will work with!  While first year students have more general roles around the clinic (For example, I am involved in research and other students are patient advocates, community health workers or front desk clerks), in the next years we get to directly apply our pharmacy knowledge as Pharmcare clinicians by helping the team come up with a treatment plan for patients.

3) Pharm Phutballers! We do have a little time for fun (or we make time at least) so I played on our Pharmacy intramural soccer team that played in the TCF Bank Stadium soccer league. While we did make the playoffs, we sadly lost to a team who most likely had about double the sleep that our team had the night before (our last game was on  monday evening, and both PD1 and PD2 had exams galore that day!). Regardless- it was a great season!

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GO Team!

That is all I have for this week- happy studies to all my classmates!

The Dreaded Torsion Balance

Over the summer I was able to do an internship with Thrifty White in a small northern Minnesota town. I realized in a rural setting some things would be different than what I am used to. However, I never in my life would have thought Dr. B (first year lab professor in Duluth) would be right when she said not every pharmacy has an electronic scale. That was her big push for requiring that we know how to use a torsion balance. I thought she was lying this whole time! I mean electronic scales aren’t that fancy. People have small ones they use for food at home even. Then I was told I needed to make a compound this summer which required hydrocortisone powder. I looked for an electronic scale, but couldn’t find one. I was then informed the only scale in the pharmacy was a torsion balance (pause for a slight panic moment!!). It had been since first year lab that I last used a torsion balance, so it took me a moment to remember how to use one! Thinking back to first year lab using the torsion balance would take me years it seemed to make a simple compound. I was a little nervous. I didn’t want to make a fool of myself during my internship!  However, with some guidance from my preceptor, I had that compound made in no time! For visual proof that I indeed had to use a torsion balance I took some pictures for you all!!

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So lesson learned-trust your professor when she tells you not every pharmacy has an electronic scale!! Thanks for the life lesson Dr. B!!

Oh what a difference a week makes

This weekend I sadly don’t have a nerdy poem to share since I had both school-work and work-work do occupy my time. Regardless, I’ll give a quick update on the week and the drastic changes that have gone on in my life.

1) I officially become a coffee drinker: I have always been a bit tentative about caffeine since I have a theory that I have extremely slow caffeine metabolism that makes one cup of coffee at 6am keep me up all night…. I guess pharmacy school was able to some how rev my caffeine metabolism up because apparently now I can sleep just fine, even with my nice big cup of coffee every morning.  I discovered this as I slowly transitioned from decaf to 25/75 to 50/50 to 100% of the real deal.  Thankfully the CHIP center, aka the Center for Health Interprofessional Program Center (just kidding, no one calls it that!), realizes the need of health professional students to drink coffee ( and realizes the need for health professional students not to spend all their loan money at the coffee shop) so it offers 25 cent coffee all day every day.  Finding quarters now has a new meaning.

2) It got cold: while it was 80 degrees last sunday, just 5 days later it almost snowed….. talk about some crazy moving and shaking going on in the atmosphere.   Since snow is not a common occurrence where I lived in California (though  just to clear up any misconceptions,there IS snow in California,), I was way overly excited about the chances of snow.  While I was a bit sad the snow never actually materialized, I was glad I had this small taste of winter so I could come to the realization my current “winter” coat was not going to cut it.

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what hasn’t changed:

1) There is STILL free food at lunch! While most of the initial come-to-our-club-meeting-for-free-food-as-we-convince-you-to-join-our-club meetings are over, there are still plenty of opportunities for us starving students. One time was the student ambassador training, where I learned about giving tours and being on the student panel during interviews. It is crazy to think that less than a year ago I was the one interviewing!!!   Also, on October 1, the beginning of National Pharmacists’ Month, there were pharmacy trivia, cupcakes and photos with Lucy in the lobby of Weaver-Densford hall.  Charles Shultz, the creator of “Peanuts” was born in Minneapolis, so the Academic Health center has giant peanut characters sprinkled about in medical clothing…. makes for a good photo opp.

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Happy National Pharamacists’ Month!! Know your pharmacist, know your medicine!

The Weekend (Is Gone)

Several things happened this weekend!

  • Esko Health Fair
  • MPSO Potluck
  • Kappa Psi Little Bro/Big Broesko health fair
  • Blood pressure readings, glucometer, and cholesterol reading were provided to the patients. Other free health screenings included bone density measurement and counseling by P3 & P4 students. Overall, it was a very rewarding experience to be  talking to the patients and answer their questions to our best knowledge.
  • unnamedMulticultural Student Pharmacy Organization held their first annual potluck at Summit Ridge. There were a lot of scrumptious food such as Cambodian beef skewer, pumpkins, bubble tea drinks, udon, and chocolate chip cookies with lots of chocolate chips!
  • Next week is the official Big Bro/Little Bro week for Kappa Psi!. Over the course of the next week, I will introduce him to my favorite things/hobbies, hometown, etc. and leave him with clues as to who I am. It is a fun way to get to know each other, and I am glad to be doing this as a big bro this time.
  • Okay, back to studying for pharmacology practice exam . . .

A Weekend with the Letter S

The S word

For those of you who live in Minnesota, you know that around here, the S word pertains to that white fluffy stuff that likes to cover the ground starting in about November/December.  Or, if you live in Duluth, October!




While I had figured that snow would start coming soon as temperatures have been in the low 40’s and in the mid 30’s at night, it still came as a shock! It also made me realize that I should start figuring out how I am going to get to church pretty soon, as I have been biking or walking, but who want to do that when the temperature is in the negative digits?

Health Screening

More exciting news is that I participated in my first health fair this weekend!  During the two hours that I was there I got to greet people and help them fill out forms, run the bone density scanner and take blood pressures! I had a ton of fun with my fellow classmates and I am already looking forward to participating in more!

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Saints Fun

One of the things that I love about being in Duluth is still getting to do things with my friends at St. Scholastica, and this weekend it was homecoming! I got to go rock climbing, which was a plus since at UMD rock climbing cost money.  I even got to climb with my friend’s little brother who is scared of heights! It was fun to encourage someone else on the wall vs. from the ground.

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And of course homecoming wouldn’t be homecoming without the football game!  I got to catch up with friends that I haven’t seen since last December and meet my friend’s mobility dog, Parker!  It was also a great football game to watch as we were losing the entire game and then came back in the last 6 minutes to win! I am one of those people who only enjoys watching football live and when it is a close game. It is just so boring when one team is winning by a mile.

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