It’s been awhile! It is now Christmas time, and the snow is lacking in Minnesota. I’m ok with that. Finals were tough (especially the calculations portion of the cumulative drug delivery exam- that killed). Hopefully everyone survived. During my several week break, I hope to find the time to organize all of the most important information that I learned during my first semester, so that I can easily apply it to my future semesters. I’m afraid that if I don’t, I may forget a lot of the information. I will probably use Quizlet.com; it is a pretty fun way to organize and review the material by creating online flashcards, then using the information to play games and take quizzes!
Next semester we have a patient assessment class that requires a stethoscope and blood pressure cuff! I’m pretty excited for that. I’ve been looking at the stethoscopes online, and have narrowed it down to either sea foam green or caribbean blue (which looks more like teal to me). I’m thinking the former may be calling my name… it reminds me of an incubus song called “Are you in”. I love that band. Oh, and the color is nice too.
In other news, I woke up at 9:15 this morning (much nicer than my usual 5:15!); then I went to pick up my step kids from the Greyhound bus station in Minneapolis before going shopping. Being in school until the 21st of December really hindered my ability to get my Christmas shopping done. Also, I’m pretty sure that everyone inMinnesota traveled to the Edina super Target today to shop at the same time. It was insanity, but I suppose that’ll happen when I put off my shopping until the last few days before Christmas. I also just finished mailing my Christmas cards today; I started them around midnight last night, and made more than a few mistakes due to lack of sleep over the past few days (ah, finals). Most of the mistakes (that I was aware of) were not corrected for humor’s sake, such as my cousin’s last name becoming Christmas, rather than Christianson. I think I was enjoying that one a little too much. Tomorrow I am going to a church service with my mom that is supposed to have a manger scene with live animals. I bet the kids will like that! Then I work Christmas Eve, and it’s off to my Dad’s afterwards. I’m excited to be able to spend some real quality time with family after the long semester. Merry Christmas everyone!!!
Ok, so it’s not a poem; and I may or may not be singing it, but man I wish I were a dolphin! When dolphins sleep, they only shut down half of their brain (mostly because they need to be conscious to breath, but that’s beside the point). If I could be conscious 24 hours a day rather than somewhat awake for 18, I could get so much more studying in! Perhaps as a dolphin, I wouldn’t have to drink coffee for breakfast, lunch, and dinner; I could just swim in it! I wonder how the bioavailability of caffeine would differ when absorbed transdermally versus taking it orally… Anyway, in Biochemistry the other day we learned about human genetic polymorphisms (individual variations in DNA base pairs) and how they play a role in the effectiveness of drug treatment for individuals. Some people have a CYP1A2 polymorphism that causes them to break down caffeine slower than normal, increasing their plasma concentration of the drug, and thus their risk for heart attacks (when combined with high caffeine consumption). I guess I’ll just have to keep my intake to a minimum just in case; there will be no swimming in caffeinated pools in my future.
Fall semester is over halfway done and things (at this moment in time) feel as though they are winding down… although I should know better than to to believe that pharmacy school ever winds down. We finished our first course on Monday though!!! Microbiology was a “half semester” course, and our last exam was online over this past weekend on immunizations. It feels great to check that off my list. In other news, I (along with many of my friends) became an official Kappa Psi brother last Tuesday. Over the past month, we had a couple of questionings (where our understanding of the fraternity and its brothers was evaluated), an informal meeting (which was a blast, and we even learned about drugs!), then a formal meeting (where we traded our pledge pins for brother pins). Becoming a brother already has its benefits; I will be attending an STI talk at Apple Valley High School next Tuesday to promote awareness and educate tenth graders on the transmission, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of sexually transmitted infections. I will also be volunteering at the Phillips Neighborhood Clinic this winter, which is a free clinic run by health professional students and supervised by licensed clinicians. So much to do! I only wish there were more hours in a day.
EPPE (Early Pharmacy Practice Experience) is a course (which also involves FIPCC) designed to help us develop the professional skills used in the practice of pharmacy by placing us in authentic pharmacy settings from the beginning. During the first year, we are assigned a “community teacher”, which is a patient in the community that we meet with to discuss their healthcare experience, concerns, and desires. It gives us the opportunity to practice speaking with patients, forming patient-“practitioner” relationships, and reflecting on these experiences with other students and faculty.
In EPPE, we are also matched with practicing pharmacist mentors from an area that we haven’t experienced in or out of school. Having worked in retail for over a year, and having shadowed a couple of pharmacists in a hospital setting, I was assigned to a managed care pharmacist within Express Scripts. After hearing that other pharmacy students got to sit in on surgeries, I was somewhat disappointed that my experience was going to take place at an insurance company office building. However, I must say that I completely misjudged how interesting and useful my time at Express Scripts would actually be! Understanding the processes that occur at an insurance company is not a simple task, but having a background in retail pharmacy allowed me to tie it all together.
Here is a quick summary of what I learned the responsibilities of a managed care pharmacist are:
-Researching and summarizing prospective and recently FDA approved drugs.
-Meeting with other pharmacists and physicians to determine which drugs are most appropriate and beneficial for patients to be placed on a drug formulary.
-Determining which drugs in an approved class are most financially beneficial for patients (determined separately and secondary to clinical appropriateness), and where they should be placed in a tiered co-pay structure.
-Deciding which drugs should require prior authorizations (to ascertain appropriate and safe use), or step therapy (to promote cheaper drugs of the same class to keep patient costs down).
-Working with clients (health plans, businesses, and the government) to develop a pharmacy benefits plan, or to choose from a collection of generic, pre-made options.
By giving me a good understanding of the workings of a pharmacy benefits company, and the opportunity to ask work-related questions, my mentor experience ultimately improved my ability to work as a pharmacy technician (and one day, as a pharmacist).
We had FOUR exams this past week! Wow, and I thought that two tests on the same day was bad. It definitely feels good to be done and moving on from that. Keeping on top of the material is a necessity. I am now thoroughly enjoying my four day weekend for fall break. I took my daughter to an indoor playground where we got some ice cream, we also read books, shopped, caught up on some shows, cleaned the house, and did laundry (the last two were particularly for my benefit, as the lack of time available to keep up on housework has been driving me crazy). We also plan to visit Sever’s Corn Maze this weekend. On the other hand, it’s a great long weekend to work on school projects and readings, and I am hoping to get a lot done, including meeting with my pharmacist mentor tomorrow!
While racing from one activity to the next during the lunch hour, I found the time to take a quick photo with some friends before rushing back to MPSO. I think pharmacist Lucy appreciated the company!