March Madness

Well, I suppose it is an understatement to say I haven’t posted in a while.   My excuse for this lack of blog presence is that I didn’t want to be so misleading as to suggest a second year pharmacy student actually has any extra time in their life.  I don’t have enough time to live my life most of the time, let alone write about it! That said, I am not complaining;  it has been an exciting few months and I cannot be more grateful for the wealth of opportunities I have had recently.

One piece of exciting news on a college-wide scale is that we found out a few weeks ago that we are now ranked #2 by the US News and World Report, up from #3 in 2012. Usually I don’t care about rankings in anything at all. My track coach in college always told us “rankings, schmakings”, meaning we should take them for a grain of salt since everyone who steps on the line on race-day has a chance to win no matter what they were ranked.  The same could be said with schools of pharmacy: it is what you put into your education that makes you a great pharmacist one day, not what arbitrary number your school is ranked on some list.

Despite this usual attitude I have, I am not going to lie that I was excited to see our school recognized for our quality of education and research.  The change to the new curriculum has not been without some bumps in the road so I think students, faculty and administrators alike were excited to see that our school’s commitment to constant improvement and innovation, despite the challenges that come with this change, is paying off. Definitely a pretty sweet feeling; almost as sweet as the celebratory donuts provided to us for the news (I wonder what they will get when we get bumped up to #1 in 2020… a pizza party?).  I also have the upmost respect for UNC right now… not only are they now ranked number 1 in Pharmacy programs, but their basketball prowess also single-handedly saved my March Madness bracket. What is in the water there?

class pic

Twin Cities Class of 2018 being goons becomes the temporary face of the COP ! 

Speaking of March Madness, that is pretty much how the month of March was….Madness.  I have the classic pharmacy school problem of overcommitting myself between work and extracurriculars, so it felt like for everything I crossed off my to do list 5 more things came up.  I started doing medication history in the ER (basically interviewing patients to make sure we have the right medication list for them when they are admitted) at my job during the weeknights so that sucked away some nights where I should have been studying… but luckily making money and learning all about new medications I have never heard of makes it worth it!  On top of that, I competed in a research competition put on by the American College of Clinical Pharmacists (ACCP) that involved writing a research protocol that people in real life probably would take a year writing in 1 month so that was another thing I could be doing instead of studying.  On top of THAT, I just started an internship with the division of the Academic Health Center that designs the interprofessional 1Health curriculum to create a unique interprofessional learning experience game for groups of students to improve their communication skills to efficiently provide patient care: I don’t want to go into too many details at this point but it is just about going to be the coolest thing ever and working on its development has been yet another thing that I have done instead of studying (seems to be a theme, huh?).

Now it probably just sounds like I am a horrible student and never actually study…but I do recognize that the stuff we are learning about such as electrolytes, kidney disease, diabetes an so on is pretty darn important for my career as a pharmacist so I make sure I learn it… I just have mastered (ok maybe not mastered, but have become proficient in) the art of learning things once and making it stick.  It just so happens this learning it once occurs the night before the test sometimes, but I like to think of it as the sense of urgency just adds an element of thrill.  Some people argue that cramming makes you forgot everything, which may be true but our integrated curriculum makes it so anything we learned is revisited again and again and again… so I think the most important things stay up there for good.


My ACCP Clinical Research Team: Sam, Sarah and myself.  We spent hours upon hours working on our protocol but are happy how it turned out.  We will see if we placed on April 29th to win a trip to the ACCP conference in Florida in October! 

Luckily in the midst of March Madness was spring break where I went to the PNW (Oregon, Vancouver and Washington) with two of my classmates for a week full of amazing hiking, running and eating. Below are a few of the many Swileric (Swetha, Hilary and Eric) Kodak moments on our trip.  So glad this time we had a selfie stick to capture them all.

After I got back from my trip it was a rough 2 weeks of exams and assignments but we are in the clear for a while since we have no tests in the month of April!!  Last weekend my days looked like this- Saturday: wake up at 6, run, study for 12 hours and Sunday: wake up at 6, run, study for 12 hours.  This weekend was a full 180 turnaround- Saturday: wakeup at 8, go to a health fair, spend way too much time making squash macaroni and cheese,run,  do a few non-urgent assignments, and watch TV for a few hours.  Sunday: Wakeup at 10:45 (yeah I guess I was a little tired!), do a little bit of schoolwork, run, cook food for the week, go to a double header intramural soccer game with the Pharm Phutballers (who proceeded to win 2 close games back to back, at least 1 man down the entire time!) and then come home and get ready for class tomorrow (and finish this blog).  Definitely the kind of weekend I needed! Anyways, hopefully I’ll be a bit less MIA and try to update now that I have more time.

Until next time!


First Year, Second Semester: “What just happened?”

Hi guys!

I know, I know… you’ve forgotten who I am. Entirely my fault. But I’m here now, and ready to update you on what it’s like to be a first year, second semester pharmacy student!

Let me start off by saying – it is nothing like being a first year, FIRST semester pharmacy student. When I came back from Christmas break, I thought I was prepared. “I’ve done this before,” I said with a confident smile on my face. BUT THEN.

As one of my friends so accurately put it, “What just happened?”

When I think back on last fall, I don’t know what I was actually stressed about. Biochem, maybe. Drug delivery, meh. Lab, why?

Don’t get me wrong – first semester was a breaking-in process. We were learning how to adjust to a new lifestyle just as much as we were learning about our future profession. It’s different from undergrad – you basically go to school all day, then come home and study all night, then do it again in the morning. There are none of those convenient naps and between-class “breaks” you used to have. It’s kind of like working two jobs (for the people who have jobs on top of it, three, and I sincerely admire you).

So we got into a groove first semester, and thank goodness – because second is a whole different beast.

Anyways, to travel back in time a bit – Christmas break was awesome. I headed home, saw some friends from undergrad and high school, spent plenty of time with my family, and didn’t think about a single science-related concept for four weeks. My days were filled with skiing and sledding and drinking hot chocolate; I had a very typical Minnesota December. It was perfect.

Of course, it ended too fast – always does, etc., etc., and on January 13th we were back in Duluth buckling up for a what we didn’t yet realize was going to be a wild ride.

I’m going to split things up into convenient headings for those of you who don’t want to spend the next 24 hours of your life sorting through my post for things that might interest you.

Volunteer Activities

Within the first week of second semester, we had the opportunity to volunteer at a children’s health fair at South Ridge School near Culver, Minnesota (about 40 minutes northwest-ish of Duluth). If this fair is offered again next year (and I hope it is!) I’d highly recommend it. We had a bunch of different booths set up and saw over 350 K-6 students. I was part of the exercise booth and definitely got some physical activity in myself. It’s so important to develop healthy lifestyles in younger generations, and I felt we had a big impact on that during this fair. Plus, I love working with kids!

I also had my first experience at HOPE clinic this semester! Interested PDIs underwent training last fall, but unfortunately our lab schedule prevented us from participating during the 3-5 pm window. This semester we finish class at 2:15 on Tuesdays (our early day!), so we were all able to help out.

I was given the role of “patient advocate.” My job was to wait at the desk for a patient who wanted to be seen, help them fill out the required paperwork, take their vitals (blood pressure, pulse, respiratory rate, etc.) and talk with them until they could be seen by the student pharmacist and student physician. I also helped the desk volunteer take blood pressures/pulses for anyone who wanted these measurements.

I admit it was nerve-wracking at first, but after a half hour or so I became more comfortable and started enjoying myself. It’s so fun to interact with real patients and see how you can help them; after all, that’s what we went to pharmacy school for. HOPE clinic is such a neat opportunity that gets us away from our books and into actual scenarios – I highly, highly recommend volunteering for it. I believe there is a similar program in the Cities called the Phillips Neighborhood Clinic for anyone going to that campus.

Photos from the health fair and my first time at the clinic (look Mom and Dad!):

Other than attending an Arrowhead meeting, these are the only two “extracurriculars” I’ve done so far this semester. I’ve been busier with studying than I was last semester, but it’s definitely good to find a balance – I’ll be signing up for another soon!

Finding a Study Groove

The hardest thing for me this semester has been finding a new study groove. In undergrad, I had it down to a science – I made flashcards after every class from that day’s lecture to keep up, and I never had to cram for anything. Now, the amount of material we’re given makes that essentially impossible.

To put it into perspective, I’ll give you an example of last week. On Monday, we had a drug delivery quiz and a pharm care iRat/tRat. On Tuesday, we had a TBL on the past three weeks of lab, a med chem exam, and an infectious disease assignment due. On Wednesday, we had another pharm care iRat/tRat. On Thursday we had lab. And on Friday we had an infectious disease exam. Every week is like that. Next week, the final sprint to spring break, might even be worse.

At the beginning of the semester, I decided I’d have to switch my technique from flashcards to study guides – there simply wasn’t time to study that many cards. I did pretty well keeping up for a while, but then the endless multi-exam weeks, interspersed with assignments and quizzes and TBLs, hit. And that is when I changed my motto from “plan ahead” to “take it day by day.”

This was something I wasn’t used to. In a previous life (undergrad), I felt completely prepared for everything. I’m sure many of you were the same way. In pharmacy school, things are different because they have to be. We’re learning more, and we’re learning it to use it. It isn’t possible to study like you’ve always studied, and that was very hard for me to accept.

Another thing I adjusted to was studying away from school. In undergrad, I spent a LOT of time in the library. Now I’m in the library almost all day for class (one of our two main classrooms is on the fourth floor). By the time 3:20 or 4:30 rolls around (depending on the day), I need to get out of there. I know some people can handle staying all night too, but sometimes a change of scenery is necessary for sanity purposes.

I’ve found a few nice niches, little off-the-beaten-path coffee shops with the best milk steamers ever (I believe I have a CYP1A2 mutation because I seriously cannot handle caffeine – if you can, know you are blessed). We even go to Superior sometimes, just to take a little drive and escape Duluth. Don’t get me wrong, I adore Duluth, but you can’t walk to the same path between the same two buildings every day and not expect to go crazy.

Heck, sometimes if you HAVE to be in the library from 8 am to midnight you can even just study on the floor (spot the hand, it’s mine):


All in all, my best advice – be open to change. No matter how sure you are that your study habits will continue working (“they worked perfectly in undergrad, they’ll work now,” etc, all things I thought as well), they most likely won’t. Pharmacy school is a whole different ballgame.


Last weekend I was inducted into Phi Lambda Sigma (PLS), a pharmacy leadership society. There was a very nice dinner at Greysolon Plaza here in Duluth; we heard a great speech from Dr. Palombi, enjoyed a fantastic catered lunch, and watched the induction of some new members. Technically since we’re first years we’re only “promising leaders” until next fall, when we will be inducted ourselves.

The PLS application process is lengthy – you have to be nominated by a classmate, fill out an application form (with an essay, letter of recommendation, etc.), and interview. It might sound daunting during a busy semester, but it’s worth it. I’ve always been very committed to developing my leadership skills, so I’m excited to be involved with an organization that focuses on this. PLS also puts on the CPR classes offered at the beginning of the year.


Taking Time for YOU/Duluth Appreciation

“School, school, school is all we do.” But it doesn’t have to be like that.

Another thing I’ve learned in pharmacy school is that it isn’t just important to develop yourself as a future pharmacist – you also need to develop yourself as a person. I had a lengthy talk about my mentor about this. He asked me what I wanted to do with my life, and I immediately began spouting off my usual spiel about residency, pediatrics, clinical work, etc.

But then he stopped me and said, “No, what do you want to DO with your life?”

I was confused, of course. I’ve conditioned myself to think my “life” means my career. And, in part, it does. My career is important to me – I’ve dedicated four further years of education to it, and I’m excited about my future in pharmacy. But, as my mentor pointed out to me, I also need to remember make time for the things I love.

This is something I’ve found surprisingly easy to do here in Duluth. I’m an Up North girl – always have been, ever since my first visit to our family’s cabin up near the Boundary Waters when I was tiny. Living in the Northland has helped me escape my school bubble and do things that make me happy, which wasn’t always something I found time for in undergrad.

A few examples:

Ice skating. Duluth has the cutest little outdoor rink down by the harbor. There’s a warming house with free skates for people who don’t have their own, and they often keep a fire going outside. It’s a great way to get exercise and hang out with friends on a weekend.


Sled dog races. The John Beargrease marathon is a race from Duluth (this year Two Harbors) to Canada and back, and it’s a really unique event to attend. I dragged a few of my friends up the shore to watch on a beautiful, strangely warm winter day. The snow was deep, the dogs were excited, and it was great to be outside.


Hiking. We hike and hike and hike. Now that the days have gotten long enough to permit it, every Friday we head to Chester or Lester and spend an hour or two enjoying the trails. Usually we end up going on Saturday as well. Duluth just makes it so EASY.

Bonspiel. A few weeks after the semester started back up, the annual pharmacy bonspiel took place in Superior. The theme this year was “carnival,” so my team and I dressed up as mimes. It was SO MUCH fun. I had never curled before and was sure I’d be terrible, but after a few throws you get the hang of it. Just remember you’re wearing a purposefully slippery slider on one foot – I forgot for three seconds and completely biffed it.

Travel. There are so many beautiful places within short drives of Duluth. Early in January, my friends and I scoped out a weekend we knew wouldn’t be too busy (there was only one) and booked a hotel room in Ely. I’m very familiar with the area because my grandparents owned a cabin outside Babbitt for many years (and we still vacation there every summer), so I was excited to share it with my friends. Mostly we ate great food, hot tubbed, explored the leftover snow sculptures from the winter festival, had a few spectacular snowball fights, and hiked some more.

We also took a quick jaunt down to pretty little Bayfield one weekend. I’ll admit this was mostly a study trip, though – we did flashcards in the car the entire way there.

Dance. I’ve never worn so many dresses in a single school year. This past weekend was the “White Coat Ball,” an interprofessional social opportunity with pharmacy, medical, and nursing students at the Radisson. The masquerade theme was a fun opportunity to dress up, and it’s always nice to mingle with future fellow healthcare professionals from other schools.

Long story short – find time to do the things that make you happy! Trust me, you’ll need it.

IPPE Assignments

Back in October we had a meeting about scheduling our IPPEs for this summer. For those of you who are unfamiliar, IPPEs are three-week required rotations at either community (first year) or hospital (second year) pharmacies. They take place between late May and early August, and there are four different blocks (and many, many different sites) where you can be placed.

I was a little nervous about my IPPE scheduling because I’m backpacking in Europe for five weeks this summer. I’ve been saving up for the trip for YEARS, and I’ve never been so excited for anything, but I knew my rotation could easily interfere.

I brought the issue up with the IPPE coordinators before I filled my preferences out, and they told me that if I noted I would go anywhere as long as they put me in either block 1 (right away after school ends) or block 4 (right before school begins again) I should be okay. Still, I worried about it – I tend to do that. In the end, it worked out perfectly – I was placed in block 1, and I actually got my number one site pick as well. I’ll be at the Target south in Rochester, the closest site to where my parents live. I was sure I’d have to go up to International Falls or somewhere equally remote.

While I’m on the subject I thought I’d mention that I’ve thought long and hard about this trip. I know it means I won’t have the chance to do an internship this summer, and I’ve weighed what that might mean against what this trip will do for me. Ultimately, I decided it’s been my dream for far too long to give up on it.

One day when I look back on my life, I’ll be able to say I was a pharmacist. But I’ll also want to say be able to say I was so many, many other things as well. I think that’s a lesson I’m learning slowly, from my mentor and networking and even just myself.

I’m ready for mic drop and so are you. Have a great spring break, everyone!


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)

1/8 Pharmacist…TO BE

After hand in my biochem final exam, finally, I have survived through the first semester in my pharmacy school in the United States. I am so excited and satisfied now, so I would like to share my feelings and experiences at U of M.

As an international student who came to the U.S. 127 days ago, you may hard to imagine how difficult for me to adjust the life and study here. The two main difficulties for me are language and culture. I still remember in the Becoming a Pharmacist, listening to the lecture was just like another TOEFL listening test. I tried to talk with other students in my class, but sometimes, especially when they speak too fast I could not catch up with them. This made me feel upset, but also inspired me to put more efforts in practicing. Now, I believe my English have improved a lot, which makes me more confident to talk to people.

For the curriculum in this semester, I really love the combination and interaction between Pharmaceutical Care and Pharmaceutical Skills Lab. To be specific, in Foundation of Pharmaceutical Care, I grasp the basic step to consult a patient and understand his or her main medication-related problems. Although I do not have much exact knowledge in each drug, it is important and useful to build the basic frame. On the other hand, I was afraid to get S- in labs at first, but I gradually understand the idea that the mistakes we make during class are a great way to remember the materials and master the skills, which would help us better serve our real patients. It is far better to make mistakes here than to make mistakes when you are doing your IPPE and APPE. Therefore, I know the systematic patient education steps and I am looking forward to having chances to practice in the future.

Additionally, the mentoring program is wonderful! Due to my special background, I treasure any opportunity to be exposed to a real pharmacy setting. My mentor is an owner of an independent pharmacy in St. Paul. My mentor’s passion for pharmacy and devotion for community health enlighten my future in truth. What we need to focus is not making profits from delivering the medications, but trying our best to combine our knowledge and our warmth to help patients.

Anther point I need to point out is Interprofessional collaboration. We have FIPCC this semester, due to this part of the seminar we have the chance to interact with other professional students. What a great linkage between us! Everyone is essential and important in the whole healthcare team; we must make the positive contributions from different aspects.

In reality, I miss my family and my friends in China. Thanks to the Skype, because of this, I could feel that they are around me and they support me all the time.

Finally, I really want to thank my friends who company me and help me during my hardest time. In addition, I cannot miss mentioning our table 8-THAT YUNG 8 MILE! I know I am a little bit shy, but I still would like to thank you all for the encourage and understanding! Hope we could make more progress in the future!

Wish everyone has a nice winter break!

PharmFlix 2015

In the words of our Minnesota Pharmacy Student Alliance (MPSA) President today,

“WE DID IT!!!”

In the seven years that the American Pharmacist Association has held the PharmFlix Competition, the University of MN has never submitted a PharmFlix Video. Until now that is…

So what is the PharmFlix Video Contest? In the words of APhA it is “a way for student pharmacist to showcase their professionalism while also expressing their creativity by creating short public service announcements (PSA).”

And so, without further ado, please sit back, relax and enjoy the University of MN-College of Pharmacy 2015 PharmFlix Video!

More Notes from a First Year

Hello blogosphere!

Meg here. Remember how last time I posted I said, “Sorry for the length, it won’t be this bad next time because I won’t procrastinate and squish everything into one entry?”

I lied about that. I apologize in advance.

First exciting development to address: Thanksgiving break is only four short days away! I know everyone says this about every semester, but where did the time actually go? I’m only about a month from finishing the first 1/8th of my career as a pharmacy student!

Unfortunately, there’s quite a bit to do in that time. Last week alone we had a lab practical, our second drug delivery midterm, a pharmaceutical calculations exam, and a lab TBL. I won’t list what has to happen during the upcoming end-of-semester-sprint-to-the-finish-line because it makes me hyperventilate a little bit… but at the end of the race is a glorious month of nothing.

My poor brain and suffering workout schedule need it.

A few things I’ve done since the last time you heard from me:

Midyear Regional Meeting

This year’s APhA-ASP midyear regional meeting for region 5 (that’s us!) was in Minneapolis. I was a little leery about going; it would require an entire weekend down in the Cities, and I wasn’t sure if it would benefit me as a first-year. In the end, my friends and I decided it was too close for us to pass up (the location rotates by year), and I’m so glad we went; it was an awesome opportunity to learn more about the profession and meet future colleagues from all across the Midwest.

Highlights from the weekend included a talk on the provider status legislation, a residency expo, a CV workshop, and two social nights. The first social was Friday and had a “Great Gatsby” theme; one of my friends even won Timberwolves tickets in a raffle (there were some pretty awesome prizes, including an iPad). The second was at The Pourhouse; the entire second floor was rented out for us until about 10 pm, when the Halloween crowd started rolling in (the meeting was from October 30th-November 1st). I’ve never seen so many costumes; the people-watching opportunities were excellent.

All in all, it was a great weekend and I don’t regret going at all. Don’t be deterred by the entry fee – MPSA will reimburse you for it as long as you fill out the correct paperwork!


Future pharmacy students, a PSA: create an intramural team! It’s a great way to relieve stress, stay active, AND forge “friendly” inter-pharmacy rivalries.

For the first half of the semester, I played on an intramural volleyball team cleverly named “T-Rx.” The season concluded at the end of October and we needed something to fill up any ounce of free time we might manage to find, so we decided to form a broomball team.

Now, I hardly even knew what broomball was before moving to Duluth; I think its concentration likely dilutes the further you get from the Canadian border. But it’s pretty popular here, and after our first game I understood why: it’s fun!

For those of you who aren’t from around here, broomball is basically hockey without skates. If you’re really dedicated or, like me, prone to tearing ligaments in your knee, you can buy broomball shoes from Play it Again Sports; they’re basically big clown shoes with microvilli on the bottom. Then you put on a helmet, grab a stick, and run around on the ice trying to hit a ball into a net.

As you might expect, it’s pretty comical. As you might not expect, it’s EXHAUSTING. I was sore for three days after our first game. It was worth it, though, because we beat the other pharmacy team. That was basically my goal for the entire season (not a literal goal; I still haven’t made one of those, despite four very wide-open shots last Monday night).

St. Paul Children’s Museum

Last weekend I volunteered at my first “health fair,” down at the St. Paul Children’s Museum. Basically we set up four booths (on exercise, food choices, what a pharmacist does, etc.) in the museum and talked to kids and their parents about staying healthy. It was a lot of fun and re-validated my desire to specialize in pediatrics; I love kids, and there’s nothing better than breaking through a shy child’s “armor” and seeing them smile at you.

I was at the “What Does a Pharmacist Do?” station and spent all morning helping the kids drop alka seltzer tablets into food coloring to create mini lava lamps. I’m thinking I should suggest this as a future lab activity?

(I have photos but can’t post them because of confidentiality – I promise you they’re adorable)


This past Tuesday I had my last mentor meeting. I’m happy to report that I had a terrific experience with this. I met with her five or six times over the course of the semester, usually on Friday mornings before class. She works at Essentia, a health system I was pretty unfamiliar with before moving up here (I’m from the land of Mayo Clinic). It was very interesting to see the different types of pharmacies and learn about the opportunities I might have if I choose to stay in Duluth one day.

A quick plug for the mentor program – you get out of it what you put into it. It can be difficult to schedule because both you and your mentor are busy, but try as hard as you can to do it. I found it was most beneficial for me to do a few hours here and there; it helped me get a better idea of what she does (because she does different things every day). Also, bring questions! This is your opportunity to sit down with someone who knows the ropes and ask them whatever you want.

As I like to do at the end of posts (or rather, as I have done at the ends of my only two posts so far), I’m going to offer some advice to potential pharmacy students who are reading this:

#1: When you get your first S- (and every S- after that), do not panic. If you are anything like me (and I’m guessing you are), you will flip over your lab and see that little red circle on the left side of the paper and feel very inadequate. It will hurt especially badly when you realize you lost credit on essentially the entire lab for something like forgetting to document the name of the pharmacy on your label.


Don’t beat yourself up over it. You have (many, many) other things to do. You are a human, and humans make mistakes. You are also learning; that’s the point. Don’t let it keep you awake at night; instead, make sure you don’t make that same mistake again. Ultimately, that’s why we’re here, and that’s why the grading system is set up like it is.

#2: You will have hard days, hard nights, maybe even hard weeks. When you do, talk to people. Use the resources the college provides. Use your friends, from here or from home. Call your parents. And always remember a quote that I love: “The struggle will become your story.” These are the days you’re going to tell your children and grandchildren about. They’re the days you’ll be proud of, once they’re over.

Remember, “A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor.” A self-portrait, circa 2001, to prove my point:

Up North 010

To all the prospective students I’ve seen on interview days, best of luck and I hope to see you in Duluth next year! Everyone have a terrific Thanksgiving and enjoy seeing your families 🙂


Live Your Why

Hello everyone!

Sorry for not blogging in a while; as second years we are slowly accepting the universal truth that “life only gets busier as you get older.” However, even as life and school gets more and more crazy; it is always nice to get away for a weekend, or even a few hours to spend time reflecting about where we are and where we want to go.  I got to do this by attending the White Coat Mass in Duluth 2 weeks ago and the APhA-ASP MRM conference last weekend.

I found it amazing that at both of these events we talked about vocation and Live Your Why, and while they are separate ideas; they are very related to each other.  At the White Coat Mass, we had Sister Joan Marie Stelman speak about medicine as a vocation.  Most people when they think of a vocation think of the call to religious life.  As Sr. Stelman spoke about the meaning of vocation, I found myself thinking back to why I had decided to become a pharmacist in the first place. And I realized that my reason, as P.J. Palmer writes in his book Let Your Life Speak “had not come from a voice ‘out there’ calling me to be something I am not. It comes from a voice ‘in here’ calling me to be the person I was born to be.”

This was followed by MRM the following weekend; where we gained inspiration from this Ted Talk:

So how is living your why any different than responding to your vocation? I am finding that there is not any difference.  At the conference we talked about how our “why” should be those things that you enjoy doing.  And Palmer also writes of vocation that “True vocation joins self and service, as Frederick Buechner asserts when he defines vocation as ‘the place where your deep gladness meets the world’s deep need.'”

So, to any future/current pharmacists reading this:

What’s Your Why?