Congratualtions are in order..

Congratulations to the class of 2016!!! We made it!!! Through thick and thin we persevered. At times we soared high and at other times we “rode the struggle bus” through long tunnels where we could hardly see the light. With the support of our friends, our family, the staff and faculty of the U of MN’s CoP, and of course our pharmily, we left no hurdle standing in our race to the finish. However, the finish line of this race doesn’t mark the end; rather it marks a new beginning for each of us. As we walk across that stage, we accept the great responsibilities that await us, the responsibility of caring for patients. There is an entire world out there, waiting for the greatness that each and every one of us holds, and I’m confident that as the class of 2016, we will not only deliver but we will excel. During the past four years, I’ve come to know and love a great group of people that didn’t let the distance between two campuses separate us. I’m thankful for every moment I’ve had with each and every individual I’ve met along this journey, and for those that have supported me through every step of the way. At the end of the very long journey as a student, I say congratulations to my peers and give a fair warning to the rest of the world as the class of 2016 is ready to take on any challenge that is thrown our way! Look out world, here we come! Congratulations to the class of 2016!  I look forward to sharing every shining moment we bring through our work as the University of Minnesota College of Pharmacy’s newest class of Doctors of Pharmacy!!!

SafetyCall International Elective Rotation

One of these things is not like the others, One of these things just doesn’t belong, Can you tell which thing is not like the others. By the time I finish my song?

  1. Autopsies
  2. Legal Cases
  3. Drug Toxicology Testing
  4. Pharmacy

……Did you get it right? Probably not! It’s not that I don’t have faith in my sharp blogosphere readers; it’s just that a trick question. All of those describe the amazing five weeks I spent during my elective rotation at SafetyCall International.

SafetyCall is a unique toxicology business that offers a “Pet Poison” call center and also toxicology services for human products as well. They work with manufacturers of products from pharmaceuticals to cleaners to OTC products and provide them with service as a medical line, regulatory compliance, adverse event reporting and so much more.

During my 5 weeks here (which flew by) I was offered many unique opportunities that I don’t think I would have gotten from any of my other rotations. I was allowed to observe autopsies at the coroner’s office, tour a toxicology lab, and work on various legal cases which all connected to pharmacy in a way that doesn’t in typical clinical setting. These were just the big highlights of the rotation. I’m not terribly keen on writing essays—nor do I think you want to read them—but if you want to hear more about any of these things, shoot me an email. And for you P1s and 2s who have rotation life to look forward to, definitely think about putting SafetyCall at the top of your electives list!

Ambulatory Care

So I didn’t get this done before the start of my next rotation, but…… It’s only been just over a month since my Ambulatory Care rotation, I’d say I’m getting more timely with my posts–it’s a good thing that my experiences have been so memorable!

For those of you who are unfamiliar with what “Ambulatory Care Pharmacy” involves, the Board of Pharmacy Specialties offers the following description.

Ambulatory care pharmacy practice is the provision of integrated, accessible health care services by pharmacists who are accountable for addressing medication needs, developing sustained partnerships with patients, and practicing in the context of family and community. This is accomplished through direct patient care and medication management for ambulatory patients, long-term relationships, coordination of care, patient advocacy, wellness and health promotion, triage and referral, and patient education and self-management. The ambulatory care pharmacists may work in both an institutional and community-based clinic involved in direct care of a diverse patient population.

My amb care rotation (just like the rest of my rotations) was AMAZING! This is really where I see myself going as a future practitioner and this experience definitely reinforced that. I had the unique opportunity to have a 10-week amb care rotation where I split my time between Broadway Family Medicine and North Memorial Clinic in Brooklyn Center (and Maple Grove). I have so many wonderful things to say about all of the sites I was at that I can write a novel, but you all probably have other things to do than be jealous of how wonderful my rotations are! 🙂

Although both sites were doing similar work, both of my experiences were so very different. Broadway Family Medicine is a teaching clinic, so under the supervision of my preceptor Dr. Jean Moon. I got to work very closely with the pharmacy resident Dr. Heidi Le, the medical students, and the medical residents. One of the highlights of this site was the paired visits with the med student the med resident. I spent my afternoons paired with a medical student, together we would see the patient, conduct the interview and physical exam with each profession addressing their respective portions. The appointments ranged from an acute illness (cough, could etc) to diabetes to pain management.  After that, we would report our findings to the resident, then we all went in together to come up with a plan for the patient. This was a great experience because it gave me a great degree of independence in seeing and caring for patients, but also, it gave me unique insight into a pharmacist’s place in the medical team. Through these paired visits, I was able to see how other health professionals approach medication therapy and allowed me to see what unique things I can bring to the care team to help the patient.

At North Memorial, I worked with the pharmacist Dr. Mary Sauer, and together we saw patients and helped them manage conditions from diabetes to hypertension to a wide variety of mental health conditions. It was such a great experience to be in a setting where the pharmacist was so respected, needed, and sought after. Mary definitely had a great deal of independence in seeing patients and the providers really depended on her knowledge and expertise whether in the form of a casual consult or referral of a patient for her services. As I progressed through the rotation, I became more comfortable with the process of seeing patients and more confident in my knowledge, and it culminated in the highlight of this sight–seeing patients on my own! Mary allowed me to see patients, both new and follow-up. I went over their medications, identified drug therapy problems, and came up with a plan and follow up. It was such a great feeling to know my years of hard work in school have given me the tools to really be involved in a patient’s care.

Both of these sites were such great learning experiences, and they were also a tun of FUN! And if you didn’t document it, you didn’t do it, so here’s my documentation of the good times. My time with them led me up just before winter break so I got to partake in some holiday fun. I’m pretty sure not a lot of people get to be at a site where their preceptors office gets transformed into a gingerbread house, or the clinic takes part in an ugly sweater contest.IMG_1994

Part of the team at North Memorial Brooklyn Center under the cardboard ginger bread house in Mary’s office.

IMG_44251Jean and me in our “ugly” sweaters–Yes, I did have candy cane shaped lights on my sweater 😀


Selfie with Heidi. (This may have taken several minutes and about 10 different shots, and my eyes still look weird #Struggs)

PharmD IV Paper Seminar

Despite many moans and groans, all of the PD IVs recently returned to campus during winter break for 2 days of PharmD IV Paper Seminar. During this seminar each student gave a presentation on their research paper. It was a rough transition back to the classroom, but it was so great to see all of the wonderful work that my classmates have been doing. There were so many interesting research topics from antibiotic use in foreign countries, to the use of pre-exposure HIV prophylaxis (PrEP), to ergonomic studies of med delivery within hospitals. The hard work that everybody put into their research was highlighted during these presentations.

I, like most of my classmates, was very nervous about delivering my presentation. My topic was “A Review of Hormone Replacement Therapy in Gender Transitions.” As gender transitions become more common, the need for competent providers is growing, however education is lacking from healthcare curricula. My paper was a brief overview of the different pharmaceutical options used to help people in their transition. I thought my presentation went well, and I was relieved that it’s over.

At no point did I expect a wonderful little surprise in my email that night when I got home. Dr. Paul Ranelli, PhD, MS, a professor in the Department of Pharmacy Practice and Pharmaceutical Sciences was kind enough to reach out to a PharmD-grad student in the Social & Administrative Pharmacy (SAPh) program who also has interest in transgender health. During these past 4 years, I’ve heard a million times about how small the world of pharmacy is, and it’s so wonderful to be a part of a school where the professors are really interested in the students’ passions and do what they can to connect students and help them pursue their passions. I want to thank Dr. Ranelli for getting us in contact. I think the quote below sums up how I feel, and I hope this ripple is the start of a wave of positive change to help make access to healthcare more accessible for those in need.


Better late than never?

Hello Blogosphere!

I'm Late

As always, I’m late in posting this .. I can’t believe 10 weeks have gone by since I finished my Acute Care rotation at Methodist Hospital in Saint Louis Park, but I definitely haven’t forgotten how wonderful the experience was.

I will admit, I was a bit frightened before I started there. I had heard stories of how intense the rotation was and how much work it was. It’s true, it is hard work; but it’s totally worth it! I learned an insane amount during my 10 weeks at Methodist. Now, I’m not a very inpatient oriented person, and I knew this going in. But I wanted to make the most out of my time there, and the pharmacy team definitely met me half way. All of the pharmacists were super great about tailoring my experience to have a little bit of an outpatient focus wherever they could throw it in. From kinetics to warfarin dosing, I learned the inpatient side as well as outpatient pearls.

The additional projects like Journal Club and the CE presentation with my preceptor Anne Schullo-Fuelner were great opportunities for me to brush up on all of the information that I pushed out of my head during school. Anne taught me an insane amount about how to critically read and interpret journal articles, and I was able to put those skills to use during my current rotation and impress my preceptor! :-). And I can’t forget the residents for all of their help and feedback from when we conducted our Journal Clubs and gave our CE presentations.

Although I did spend quite a bit of time at Methodist on a daily basis, I would say every minute was worth it. I was constantly learning, and it was a great atmosphere to do it in. All of the pharmacist are very friendly, Anne was a fantastic preceptor who, I feel, really got to know me as an individual and helped me get the most out of my experience. And I can’t forget my partner in crime, Yan Yan Huang- I think we definitely supported each other through the more difficult days, and had quite a few laughs together!

I definitely would recommend this rotation to all of the future PD4s! I know I’ve said that about all of my rotations, but I guess I have been very lucky and had some fantastic rotations!

Thank you Anne and the Methodist team for a wonderful Acute Care rotation!!!

(Stay Tuned for a post about Ambulatory Care. Hopefully I can get that done BEFORE I start my next rotation at SafetyCall)

Patient Care is Everywhere!

Hello Blogosphere!

As usual, I’ve been busy with pharmacy life and haven’t had a chance to document what I’ve done. But as Dr. B always says, “If you didn’t document it, you didn’t do it.” So time to document!

Rotation life is great! I have free time (yes, that is a real thing). I’ve been hanging out with friends and family, enjoying happy hours, taking in the wonderful views at the lakes and generally just relaxing and enjoying the summer, oh and learning. Lots of that still happening, but this time sans books and late night cram sessions. Have I mentioned how great rotation life is?!

Block 1 was at Allina Pharmacy (community/retail) in Owatonna. Anybody who knows me knows that I’m not much for small towns, but 5 weeks flew by at Allina. All of the staff there were wonderful to work with and it was really interesting to see the unique relationship that the pharmacist, David Cooper, had with the patients. He always greeted them with a smile or a joke and really earned their trust. You could tell that they knew they were in good hands when they saw THEIR pharmacist. And David trusted me to do a lot more than just count pills, which meant a lot to me. Retail rotations are always a little worrisome. You don’t want to get stuck being “free-labor,” and I can say without a doubt, I feel like I learned a great deal during my time there and it was worth every minute!

Block 2 was my elective at Medication Management Systems (MMS) in Golden Valley–another great rotation! If you’re looking for a non-traditional practice setting, this is it! At MMS the pharmacists all provide pharmaceutical care by doing comprehensive medication reviews via the phone with patients all over the country! The Care Center here is run out of an office building. Technicians contact patients and schedule appointments for pharmacists to review their medications, then the pharmacists review them, document their drug therapy problems and send the recommendations in a letter to the patients and their providers. So yes, all of those “ideal world” scenarios we hear about in school really do exist, but they may not necessarily be in a traditional pharmacy setting.


Pharmacist Lynn Lukoskie at her desk talking to patients.

And boy do these pharmacists know their stuff! It was amazing to sit in on their phone call and hear how they interacted with the patients and how they knew just what to ask to assess for indication, efficacy, safety, and convenience. It’s definitely going to take quite a bit more training before I can even come close to that level of patient care. And here again, the pharmacists often developed a trusting relationship with patients but in a completely different way from what I saw at my first rotation. The pharmacists, interns, and I made quite a few follow-up calls and it was great to hear how much patients appreciated the information they received. It completely changed their perception of what pharmacists can do.

I was a little sad that my 5-weeks at MMS had flown by, but more adventures in pharmacy await! I started my 10-week acute care rotation at Methodist Hospital today. Stay tuned to hear all about it. In the mean time, enjoy the wonderful summer weather, stay safe, and keep on keeping on!

Wrapping up with Pharmacy Day

Hello Readers!

I can’t believe it’s almost the end of the year! It’s been a whirlwind with classes, preparing for rotations, and organization activities! Most recently, I had the pleasure of enjoying an afternoon of intercampus bonding with the Twin Cities campus at Pharmacy Day! This is my third Pharmacy Day, and was particularly special because it was kind of an unofficial end to my term as College Board president.  A huge shout out to Adley Lemke (PD 2 – TC) and the rest of the Pharmacy Day committee for putting on a great event! My favorite part (other than food, of course) was the student vs faculty/staff kickball game. I was really rooting for the faculty/staff team to win, but unfortunately, the students took home the trophy. I think part of the fun was planning with the other spectators how we could possibly steal the trophy because it was pretty awesome! (Abby, we can still drive down to the cities and snag it!)

Now that the fun and festivities of Pharmacy Day are over, it’s all about studying for finals. Unfortunately, motivation is pretty low, but it’s got to be done. I can’t believe that tomorrow is going to (hopefully) be my last day of class ever! I’ve said it a million times before and I’ll say it again, the time flew by! I’m a little sad that I won’t be around the campus anymore, hanging out with my classmates and the PD1 and PD2 friends, but I’m excited and ready for rotations and all of the new adventures that will bring. I doubt I’ll be blogging again before the end of the semester, but stay tuned in the coming months as I make my way through rotations!

For now, I’ll leave you with some pictures from Pharmacy Day (courtesy of Adley and Lidiane Gabeira)



Pharmacy Day Winners

^The winning team


^The Faculty/Staff team

Brother Bonding and Green Beer!

One of the great things about pharmacy school is the unique opportunities that you wouldn’t normally have otherwise, opportunities like Phi Delta Chi’s Midwest Fun Fest 2015! What’s that you ask? A fantastic weekend of brother bonding in the great city of Chicago! We got to celebrate St Patrick’s Day with a green river and a super fun scavenger hunt while meeting and networking with Phi Delta Chi brothers from all over the Midwest region. The people were so much fun to hang out with, the weather was great, and I couldn’t help but spend the weekend thinking how much I want to move to Chicago (as I do with most places I go to for a vacation). I really wish I would have taken more of these opportunities to attend regional and national events. I say this to prospective students and I know the class of 2018 has heard me say it a million times: GET INVOLVED! These are unique opportunities to get out and see the world and have fun doing it with people we become so close to in the short amount of time that we’re together. Whether it’s Midwest Fun Fest, PDX regional or national meetings, Kappa Psi Conclave, MRM, APhA Annual, just sign up and do it! Get out there, meet people, make memories, and build bonds that will last a lifetime!

I think these pictures will sum up how fun this weekend really was!

Minnesota at MWFFMinnesota Brothers- Beta Psi (Duluth) and Theta (Twin Cities)

IMG_0156Brothers at the Bean!

IMG_0144“Star gazing” at the Adler Planetarium

IMG_0137Because why not?  IMG_0127

IMG_0117Beta Psi! 

IMG_0092Waiting for the river to turn green

IMG_0101It’s a green river!!!

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

Let’s Dance!

Planning for the 5th Annual Talent Show is under way in Duluth. During the first year, I joined forces with Meena to choreograph a Bollywood dance that won us 1st place in the show! We had such an amazing time dancing, rehearsing, and performing. This year, we’re back and ready to roll!!! (We miss you 4th years! But we’re also glad to welcome some new dancers!)

We started rehearsing today and I’m confident that this could be another winning year. It’s so much fun to get a group of us together, throw on some music and just have fun! It’s a great way to release some stress and get some exercise! And as Alyssa mentioned today, how many adults get to say that they’re doing something fun and unique like this?!

I’m excited about our dance, but equally excited to see the great competition from the rest of the students (both current and former) and the faculty and staff! If you’re on the fence about signing up, JUST DO IT! When else will you have an opportunity like this? Singing, dancing, playing an instrument.. I can’t wait to see all of it in January!

“Hide not your talents, they for use were made,
What’s a sundial in the shade?”
― Benjamin Franklin

Bollywood Dance
^A shot from the 3rd Annual Talent Show. January 2013.