Whoa, we’re half way there

Hello Blog Readers!

First off- Happy MOLE DAY! (more specifically at 6:02 on 10/23/15). I am a little offended google didn’t change their logo but as a chemistry nerd at heart I can enjoy mole day for myself.

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Anyways, it feel good to have 1 hour to sit down before a healthfair to document my life for the past month or so (or more) since I last posted!

I must say that the fear was real coming into second year after many words of caution from the year above me. But, I am happy to say, we have finally eclipsed the half way mark and it hasn’t been that tragic… yet. Thanks to little things like surprise donuts, inspirational quotes about the process of ubiquination and classmates dressing up as kangaroos, my class is still alive and kicking.

I have had some memorable experiences this fall and have many more to look forward to!

Firstly, myself and about 40 of my classmates who are/were in the Foundations of Leadership Elective got to enjoy an all-expense paid weekend at Rutger’s resort in Brainerd. While enjoying perfect fall weather, stunning lake views and an amazing food buffet, we learned all about different leadership concepts and how to effectively stay sane in pharmacy school by doing things that resonate with our values rather than just doing things because they are urgent.

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The concept of “living in quadrant 2” (aka doing the things that are important to you but not necessary urgent, such as exercise, eating healthy and socializing with friends and family) leads perfectly into my next memorable moment of the fall. Besides trying to be an overly good student so I could go to bed super early every night, the whole first 6 weeks of the semester were devoted to me doing my final preparation for my first marathon, the Twin Cities Marathon!   Besides the moments where I splashed Powerade in my eyes and the entire mile 26 (…… and the 0.2), I enjoyed the every one of the 182 minutes I spent running.   It was perfect weather and I cannot wait to run another one…. After I enjoy a sedentary lifestyle for a bit.

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One thing (or many things) that I hope will be memorable is all of the information I have learned this year about the kidney, blood pressure and cardiovascular agents! The fact that I now about how in the world to use “JNC-8” (though I guess it isn’t really JNC-8) makes me so excited to apply this to fake case patients and real Phillip’s Neighborhood patients alike.

The next few weeks will be very busy with the APha MRM Region 5 conference next weekend and the Kappa Psi Northern Plains Conclave the following! I also have probably more tests/quizzes to count on one hand but I’m just going to forget about that for today.

I hope to give updates soon!

Go Class of 2018!

Only 934 days ‘till we become PharmDs!!

A Pharmacy Student’s Nightmare

Since many of us take notes electronically in pharmacy school, many of dread the day when our note-taking device fails to turn on or gives us a screen that looks like this:

Unfortunately, this year seems to be the year for our computers to be making the trip to computer heaven.  While I have not had my computer die yet, I did suffer the loss of all my notes from second year, and half of first year when my iPad crashed when I updated it (thank you iOS 9).

Some lessons my classmates and I have learned along the way from trying to (and sometimes failing) at getting our notes back:

Back up your notes

It doesn’t matter where you are backing them up to; just back them up somewhere!!

Make sure your notes are actually backing up

It’s not very fun when the folder where your notes where supposed to backing up to automatically is empty.  Even worse when you discover your backed up notes do not exist when you are trying to restore your notes to your note-taking device.

Don’t panic/It could be worse

It’s not the night before finals, so you have plenty of time to get your computer fixed/re-listen to lectures/get notes from classmates!

Your Pharmily really is the best!!

Thankfully, there are many classmates who are more technology-savvy than I am and are always willing to answer their less-tech savvy classmate’s questions.  Also-thanks to Google Drive, e-mail, and Airdrop- it is not to hard to get copies of notes from classmates!

 

An Incredibly Long Post About the First Two Months of Pharmacy School

Hi everyone! I’m Meg, your PD1 blogger on the Duluth campus, and I’m going to attempt to accomplish the impossible: using a single post to describe the first few months of pharmacy school. Welcome to a crash course on “how-my-life-changed-completely-in-53-days!”

Move-in for us PD1’s happened way back in mid-August, while many people’s summers were still in full swing. There are a few days in your life you know you will never, ever forget, and this is one of them. By some miracle, it was HOT in Duluth; just the beginning of a long list of things I had never experienced prior to that day.

I had already been through the “leaving again, this is sad, I don’t really want to go” emotional roller coaster during undergrad, but something about this time was different. This time I was moving away with no plans of ever living at “home” again. I guess I’m finally an adult (subject for a future post: I am 21 and the baby of my class).

The hardest part was saying goodbye to this sweet face:

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I apologize in advance for the likely disproportionate number of dog pictures you will see in my posts; she’s 14 and probably the thing I miss most (sorry, family).

Anyway, you probably all know what moving is like: you’ve forgotten just about all essentials, which seems impossible because you also have far too much STUFF to pack into such a tiny room (how did you not realize how tiny it was going to be?), and Target is sold out of absolutely everything because everyone else is in the exact same boat as you… etc, etc. I really regretted my end-of-summer-I-NEED-MORE-SUN procrastination that weekend, but (long, stressful story short) everything ended up fine and all of a sudden my family was saying goodbye. Leaving me all alone in front of an apartment building in a city where I knew zero other humans.

I’ll admit, I was terrified and a little bit overwhelmed. I had been to Duluth plenty of times; my parents are UMD alumni and we had a cabin near the Boundary Waters for many years. So I was familiar with the area but, again, not a single face.

Fortunately, one of my roommates is also a pharmacy student and went to UMD for undergrad. For the next few days, I followed her around like a lost puppy. It’s strange now to think that I didn’t know where ANYTHING was; if you’re reading this and you’ll be a first year next year, you’ll figure it out quickly. It might require calling your mom when you somehow end up in a MUSEUM (?) and can’t even figure out how to escape the building… but you’ll get it.

Our first day of class was a Monday, and we were required to dress professionally for pictures. In stereotypical female fashion, I tried on a combination of 5+ outfits in front of the mirror in preparation. First impressions are important, right? My mom insisted I take a picture, so here it is: a selfie from my first day of pharmacy school:

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Now photos, and external appearances in general, can be very deceiving. On the outside, I think I looked okay. Smile plastered on face, hair carefully styled, suit jacket straight. The picture of confidence.

Inside? That jacket was far too hot and sweaty. I was praying nobody would see the blood dripping down my ankles courtesy of blisters from my new flats (my old ones were one of those many essentials I forgot at home). And most of all, I was scared to death.

If you’re a pre-pharmacy student reading this, there’s a lesson I want you to take with you on your future first day of class. You are not the only one who doesn’t have any friends yet. You are not the only one who doesn’t know where to go or what to do. You are not the only one who skipped breakfast because you’re so nervous you couldn’t possibly eat. You are NOT the only one.

It’s funny to look back on that day now, because the people who were sitting around me have already become some of my best friends. It doesn’t take long. We are with each other 24/7; social opportunities abound on that convenient Facebook page, and everyone is invited to everything. We’ve also had some good discussions on our first impressions of each other that basically go like this: “Remember when we started classes? I was so intimidated by you!” “No, I was intimidated by YOU!” etc.

Again, you are not the only one.

I can’t write the specifics of everything that happened day-by-day because this post is already far too long, but I thought it’d be helpful to explain those emotions. Because despite having our first biochem exam under my belt, that first day was probably the scariest so far.

Now I’m going to summarize things a little more concisely. Our first three weeks were called “Becoming a Pharmacist” or, more realistically, “The Calm Before the Storm.” We had class pretty much from 8:25 until 3:30 every day, but it was all introductory material (and attempting to learn hundreds of names I’ve, sadly, mostly already forgotten). Some highlights from those three weeks include:

1) Interprofessional Day with the medical students. My group went to Hibbing and toured the high school (gorgeous), several pharmacies and clinics, and the taconite mine. We learned a lot about rural healthcare issues AND got to wear these awesome hard hats and safety glasses:

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2) Free food. Just about every pharmacy organization bribed us to come to their meetings by offering free food. I didn’t have to grocery shop for weeks (seriously). Even now, one of my friends is our “town crier” when it comes to free meals. For example: “Everybody sign up for the *insert organization name here* meeting on Thursday, PIZZA!”

3) Exploring Duluth with new friends. Like I said a couple years ago at the beginning of this post, I’m pretty familiar with this city. But a few of my classmates had never been here before; case in point, they were vaguely aware there is “a lake.” 😉

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4) Group study sessions! During undergrad I evolved from a solo studier to a team studier to a group studier. My friends and I like to have study sessions that involve meals, because food is an incentive for everything (see #2). For example, we’ve had a biochem brunch, an Asian potluck, a taco movie night, and a waffle bar with our entire class.

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5) White coat ceremony! Becoming a Pharmacist concluded with our white coat ceremony in the DECC’s Harborside Ballroom. This is another one of those days I probably won’t be forgetting anytime soon. After all that work in undergrad and the commitment to four further years of education, it was nice to finally receive the emblem of a (future) healthcare professional. My family came up for the event and we spent a gorgeous weekend on the North Shore:

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After Labor Day, the real fun began. I’m not going to go into detail on every day, but here are some important tidbits I’ve learned so far:

1) You will miss Becoming a Pharmacist. While it’s actually happening, it might feel boring sometimes. You’ll say, “I want to learn! Teach me how drugs work!” But after the first day of real classes when the weight of everything you’ll need to do (and do well) in the upcoming months bears down on you… you’ll miss it. So use that time to learn more about your classmates; that’s part of what it’s designed for. One day we’ll all be colleagues, and it’s never too early to start building relationships!

2) There are a LOT of pharmacy organizations. They’re all great and have awesome causes, but they can be overwhelming. I signed up for MPSA, PDX (professional fraternity), UMD Pharm.D., the HOPE Clinic, and MPSO. MPSA is an “umbrella organization” that includes membership to many other organizations (ASHP, ACCP, etc.). The acronyms can be confusing. Many times I have found myself saying, “What meeting do we have today? Something with a P in it?”

3) I’ve written more checks in the past few weeks than I had written in my entire pre-pharmacy school life. Those organizations have membership fees. It’s something I wasn’t really prepared for, but I think they’ll be worth it. Bring on the spending of further loan (aka “Monopoly”) money.

4) The pharmacy classes move as packs. Not sure where to go? It’s okay; as long as one person knows everybody does. Besides, we only have two classrooms: LS 163 and the library. If you don’t know and somehow can’t find another pharmacy student, you’ve at least got a 50% chance of getting it right!

5) Don’t let your email sit for more than a few hours without checking it. You will regret this. I picture it somewhat like a boat filling up with water out in the middle of the ocean (or, for our purposes, Lake Superior). You stop bailing for even a second… you’re going to sink. This also bears striking similarity to our biochem lectures… your brain forgets how to work for three seconds? Sink, sank, sunk.

6) It is important to take advantage of your city. If you live in beautiful Duluth, enjoy beautiful Duluth. The North Shore is right outside your window; drive up it. Get out and hike. Studying is important; of course it is. But you will be happier and healthier if you go enjoy yourself once in a while.

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7) It’s easy to get involved, but you have to take the initiative to do it. For example, read your MPSA emails on Fridays! They’re full of great information on ways to volunteer in the community. Last week I attended an Arrowhead meeting to meet area pharmacists and listen to a physician present on this year’s influenza vaccinations. And the other night I volunteered at an opioid and heroin abuse forum in Cloquet. Both were great experiences.

8) You’ll quickly become used to professional dress. I previously despised dressing up, but it’s my routine now. Dress pants and button-up shirt, heels and jacket… no problem. I rotate through the same few shirts every week, but that’s okay. Nobody has seemed to notice yet.

9) Patch Adams is probably the saddest film you’ll ever see. We had to watch it for Foundations of Pharm Care and my heart was forever broken. Do not trust your friends when they tell you it’s “the best movie of all time.”

10) Most importantly, you can do more than you thought you could. You CAN work out and wash your laundry and eat something and tackle that enormous list of things you need to study, all while managing to sleep a little bit. That’s important; don’t not sleep. You’ll probably get sick, and then the whole rest of the class will get sick and realize you were patient zero and you will never live it down.

If you’re still reading, kudos! Hopefully my future posts will be shorter since I will be more caught up.

Thanks for sticking with me!

Meg

WHAT I’VE BEEN UP TO

Howdy!

Yes, I know it’s been awhile since I blogged… but I promised I had my reasons! And you know it – ROTATIONS! You see, I’m still trying to get over the fact that I’m already a PD4. I became a PD4 in merely two days after my PD3 final exam. Kinda weird and scary if you think about it 🙂 So far I’ve had 2 rotations and a vacation block. I’ll be starting a new rotation which I’m super pumped about! Let me tell you what I did in each rotation and hopefully it will be useful to those who are ranking their sites! If you’re not ranking sites, well, it’d still be cool to hear about them! 😉

Block 1 & 2 – Part Nicollet Methodist Hospital (Acute Care)

A total of 10-week rotation aka the most clinical experience you’ll have among all of the rotation types. You’ll wanna dig up all your pharmacology, therapy, and your antibiotics notes for it 🙂 I’ve had the opportunity to have one-on-one interactions with different pharmacists on each floor. Each day we went through warfarin dosing, vancomycin dosing, and subsequently make dosage adjustments based on patient lab values and other co-morbid conditions. On top of that, we would have journal clubs as well as presentations. I would say my presentation skills and analytical skills have immensely improved since day 1. Overall, a perfect way to find out if you would like to work in a clinical setting or not in the future!

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My awesome classmate and I on our last day of acute care!

Block 3 – Regions Hospital (Toxicology) 

This is a 5-week patient care rotation. Each student is required to have one patient rotation. You can rank additional patient care sites as elective rotations. I’ve heard great things about this rotation before and they were right! This is a truly unique experience because of the inter-professional nature. Each morning, we would go over patient cases and round with physicians, medical residents, students. As part of the toxicology team, we were responsible for providing toxicology consultations upon request. A lot of direct patient interactions.. and by that I mean you do go up to the floor to interview patients. Yes, you also do need to perform physical assessment! Time to brush up your patient assessment skills! 🙂

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Filed trip to learn about plants.

 

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The toxicology team!

Block 4 – Vacation Block 

Each student has the option to take one block off. It was nice a have a little break from rotations and enjoyed the last bit of summer! Besides hanging out with friends, I also spent some time working on my PharmD IV paper 🙂

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Had to show my friend from California how we do it at the MN State Fair.

 

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Very embarrassed to say – it was my first Spoon and Cherry picture.

 

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Hiking at the Potato Chip Rock in San Diego

Alright! That’s it folks! Until next time! 🙂