The weekend of I: Interprofessionalism, Ice and “I should really be studying”

Hello Everyone! I am going to keep this short, but I just wanted to briefly talk about a few out-of-the-ordinary experiences I had this weekend that nicely complemented the large amount of school-work that I had to complete to prepare for the next week. 1) CLARION Competition Orientation!- No, I did not did a typo and say CLARION instead of Claritin! CLARION, I learned this weekend, standards for “Clinician Administrator Relationship Improvement Organization”, and is appropriately the title of an inter-professional case competition that I am participating in.  In short, each team, which is comprised of four students from different U of M health schools, is given a not-so-short case about a current problem (or should I say,problems) in healthcare.  On March 7, we will be presenting our solution to a panel of judges with the chance of winning $3000 and moving on to the National Competition.  For those interested in learning more about the competition and reading the case, you can visit this link (not to mention we are allowed to consult with outside help, so if anyone has any revolutionary ideas to share with me, I will give you a cut of the prize money ;). In school, we are constantly told the importance of interprofessionalism in the healthcare field, so I am very excited to hear the perspectives of my fellow teammates of different health schools to collectively devise a solution in a fun, competitive setting. 2) Crashed Ice! What is Crashed Ice, you may ask? I had no idea what it was until about two days ago, but now, after attending the event, I can give you quite the accurate description; it is people crashing…. on ice.  Speed skaters from all over the world come to race on a course featuring jumps, sharp turns, moguls.  With four guys (or gals) on the course at once, along with all these elements of danger, there was plenty of crashing and falling.  It is definitely quite the spectator sport and attracted thousands of fans.  I had never been to downtown Saint Paul before either, so it was it exciting to see that the state capital is actually pretty happen’.  Here is a pic of the beautiful Saint Paul Cathedral, decked out with the starting line for Crashed Ice.  What is that vehicle towards the bottom of the picture? An ambulance.  Glad to see there is at least one of those crashing this party. FullSizeRender (1) The first ice sculpture I have ever seen.  I think he was melting a bit in the balmy 33 degree weather. IMG_1505   That is all I have for now! I’m back to the books as we have our first exam of semester II on Friday.  I’m off to get excited about some ligand-receptor signaling! Oh YEAH

P & T Competition

Hello prospective students, future pharmacy leaders and readers!

Today, I had an amazing experience of participating in the P & T competition. P & T competition, or Pharmacy & Therapeutic Competition, is a competition that decides whether or not a novel drug should be included in the formulary. It is held by the Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy annually. In this competition, the winners are awarded $2,500, an opportunity to present their case at the AMCP Annual Meeting & Showcase, and $4,000 stipend to cover for the expenses of travel. The case was released just before the winter break, so luckily, our team had most of the winter break to prepare for the monograph, a 25 minute presentation, and a paper explaining the criteria we considered to arrive at our conclusion. This year’s topic was Yervoy (ipilimumab), a melanoma cancer drug by BMS. To introduce a little bit about Yervoy, Yervoy targets to treat melanoma by binding to a receptor called CTLA-4 on antigen presenting cells, and inducing the upregulation of T-cell activity on tumor cells. Increased immune response, however, also means that there is an increased risk of the adverse reactions. It can include side effects such as colitis, rash, diarrhea, and neuropathy. One of the paper we examined showed that the overall survival of ipilimumab treated patients was the highest when compared with patients who had been treated with ipilimumab and gp 100 (unapproved melanoma vaccine). In the end, we concluded that while ipilimumab shows improvement in the health benefits, we are required to examine further on its efficacy considering possible side effects and compare it to current first line therapies such as PD1 inhibitor and interferons. Therefore, we recommended the ipilimumab to be a second line treatment, meaning it should be used in the patients who had tried other medications (first line agents) but failed to benefit from them.

First, I learned from this competition that a key to success in presenting the case comes from organization and preparedness. From research articles to practicing our presentation, we examined every detail and the possibility of economical, business-related, and clinical benefits and drawbacks.

Second, as with all the pharmacy materials, the information presented to us is phenomenally abundant, and daunting in its length and difficulty. What separates a good paper or presentation from a bad one is how one maneuvers this information to fit their position, and to incorporate one’s thoughts in a narrative, flowing manner that appeals to the judges.

Lastly, we went out to Sala Thai restaurant in Duluth when we were finished with the competition.



(Picture by Min Sohn)

Pad Thai and vegetable dish were amazing! The owner picks up fresh, local ingredients each week, and does not cook unless they are perfectly in condition (she makes Mango and Rice desert only when the mango she picked up is sweet). She was also very knowledgeable and provided suggestions that left our tastes buds in heaven. What a perfect conclusion to our day.

Starting Off Right

Hello Readers!

I’m back for my last semester of classroom education… EVER! And I must say I had a great first day back to school. To start, I don’t actually have class on Tuesdays (yay!), but even better, we had the 5th annual College of Pharmacy talent show here in Duluth!

It was a fun night with performances of all kinds from our faculty, staff, alumni, and students. And I must say we have a LOT of talent out there. I’m always a little surprised during the show because I see these people on a daily basis, but I rarely get to see their hidden talents.

And as fun as watching the show is, performing in it is so much better! I had the pleasure of dancing with a great group of fellow PD3 students. We performed a fusion of Bollywood and Garba (a north Indian folk dance). The rehearsals were so much fun and winning the viewer’s choice award made the performance that much more special! But we had some very fierce competition, particularly a flash mob dance from our faculty and staff. I’m pretty sure if they were an option on the viewer’s choice, they would have won! Here are a couple of videos that I borrowed from students

Garba Gabas:

Faculty Flash Mob:

A post performance group picture of the Garba Gabas: Top Row, left to right: Kaity Erickson, Jonathan Pin, Kyle Townswick, Me, Levi Long, Landon Weaver, Meena Murugappan. Bottom Row, left to right: Melanie Campbell, Lauren Kaldun, Alyssa Quitschau

Learning to Think Like an MD

I know what you are all thinking right now, “Aren’t you in pharmacy school?” , and you are correct.  However, over the last three days, I had the opportunity to participate in training some of the newer Med School professors on Problem Based Learning (PBL).  Before Thursday, I had no idea what PBL was!  Problem Based Learning is a learning method where students work in groups to figure out what we know (Data), what they don’t know (Learning Issues), and then work together to find the solution to the problem (in our case, a diagnosis!).

As pharmacy students we are told all the time that one of the main differences between an MD and a PharmD is that we can’t diagnose, so it was pretty cool to work through the process of coming up with a diagnosis!  We started out by examining the data and trying to figure out the significance of the date we were given.  Then it was time to come up with hypothesis, which we then researched more information on that night.  The next day we came back and shared our findings.  We were then given more data from a few tests that had been run, which ultimately allowed us to make our diagnosis of Meniere’s Disease!

Overall, I had a blast, and I even got a little bit of a refresher on the physiology of hearing, which will come in handy for our physiology assessment coming up in our Pharmacology class 🙂

Back in Action

Hello Blog readers! After a little hiatus, winter hibernation, or whatever you call that thing when you don’t have any school, I am back to blog about the first year pharmacy student happenings in the Twin Cities.  Before I dive into this new semester, I will briefly talk about my break since it did just occupy the past 3.5 weeks of my life.

Over break, I was able to return to California, the land of sunshine (but not actually because it rained at least half the days I was there) and rock the t-shirt and shorts in 55-degree weather.  I have always been that person who complains about being too cold,  so this reversal of roles was quite humorous, me being in summer clothes and everyone else all bundled up.  While I wasn’t able to stay as long as I wanted due to work, I had a great time spending time with family and friends, eating at all my favorite places and running without three layers of jackets on.  After I returned to Minnesota, I worked 12 out of 15 days before school started.  During this time, not only did I greatly bolster my bank account but I also got trained in the IV room which I have been waiting to do for some time now.  Regardless, I was a little tired by the end so I was happy to return to classes.  On to classes:

The first two days of class were meant to ease us into classes.  We have a small course called “Professional Development and Assessment”, fondly called PDADs by us students, that meets a few times each semester to help us decide what area of pharmacy we want to go into, prepare us to apply to internships and create awareness about professional issues.  I must say that I was grateful that someone finally forced me to write a CV, because that is one of those things that is aways hanging behind a fat laundry list of school assignments that never gets done.

On Monday afternoon, we also had a unique event called PED-Rx, which was a pharmacy version of TED talks. We heard some perspectives on provider status and what drives innovation in pharmacy from some of the amazing pharmacists in the state of Minnesota .  We listened to three 15 minute “PED” talks, and also got to converse with a small group and a pharmacist facilitator about these issues.  I think I can speak for my classmates as well by saying it was a very enlightening and inspiring event that reminded us why we are all here in the first place before we stick our noses into the books. For those of you that fondly remembered how much you enjoy TED talks by me talking about this, I thought I would also provide links for a few of my favorites in case you want to occupy the next hour of your life in the most inspiring manner possible. Amy Cuddy: Your body language shapes who you are Drew Dudley “Leading with Lollipops”  Shane Koyczan: “To This Day” … for the bullied and beautiful  Frank Warren: Half a million secrets

After the nice, relaxed days of Monday and Tuesday, we got back to the grind on Wednesday.  This semester, we are taking Pharmacology, Medicinal Chemistry, Drug Delivery II, Applied Pharmaceutical Care, Immunology and Infectious Diseases, Skills Lab II, Pharmaceutical Calculations and the small PDAD class.  I am also taking a Drugs of Abuse elective, which provides an example of many of the unique electives the college offers.

Before class of Wednesday, I decided to take advantage of the free “Yoga Sculpt” class at the recreation center. The first two weeks of classes at the recreation center are free, and after that one can purchase a $50 fit pass that provides access to hundreds of classes that semester.  It just so happened four other of my classmates had the same idea! While we look pretty fresh and lively here, it would be a matter of hours before the soreness  from the class set in and we would be waddling around the first floor of Moos tower that day. It’s not everyday a yoga instructor is asked to take a picture of people in class, but it is also not everyday at 7:45 am that five P1 students are in a yoga class together.

2015-01-14 08.51.08

One of the many things I love about my classmates is the large amount of people who are devoted to engaging in fitness and leading a healthy lifestyle.  Almost everyday there is a large contingent of gym goers both before and after class, which helps motivate everyone to keep with it when things get stressful.

Another thing I love about my classmates? The amount of people devoted to good (and cheap!) food and drinks… after working out, of course. Some of my friends and I thought getting through our first day of classes so far in Pharmacy school that went to 5:30 pm deserved some celebration. Most significantly, during this outing at Groveland Tap in Saint Paul, I had poutine for the first time.


Before coming to Minnesota, I had no idea what Poutine was, so i’ll define it for those of you that don’t know either.  Scratch that, I’ll let urban dictionary define it.  We have

“A Quebec (or French-Canadian) staple, a dish of homemade french fries topped with white cheddar cheese curds and beef gravy (wannabes and some americans have been known to serve this dish with any cheese and turkey gravy). Generally served in a styrofoam container or carton”
sentence: Man, I ate so much poutine my heart hurts!
“A dish originating in Canada, which is possibly the only thing they have that will kill you”
sentence: “I heard Jack was in the hospital”
“yeah, he had poutine for the first time night before last, and had a near fatal heart attack”
Both of these are pretty to the point.  I don’t think i’ll be taking on the poutine diet now, but I’m glad I can now say i’ve had it. One bite was more than enough.
Anyways, that is all for now.  Back to productivity.
Happy long weekend and Go class of 2018!