Sunday, August 18, 2019

Surgery Generalist (Gen Med) - Rotation 2

Posted by Makenzie at Sunday, August 18, 2019

For general medicine, I preferenced completing the rotation in surgery.  Surgical medicine isn’t well-covered in class so I was looking forward to exploring it.  A large part of what I learned in the beginning was what medications should be stopped prior to surgery (if at all) & how to restart patients back on their home regimens when appropriate.  This was particularly salient for patients on chronic anticoagulation regimens.  Also covered were certain drugs specific to postoperative patients (e.g. Entereg) and how to treat acute surgical pain. Patients were scheduled for surgery (day zero) & then stayed until well enough to be discharged, which ranged from 2 days to 30 days (typically 3-7 days) where I was placed.

A typical day included taking the first bus out of my neighborhood to arrive at the hospital at 6:45am.  I usually started looking at patients the afternoon before (while they were still in the operating room), making note of their scheduled procedures & going through their preop physical.  I spent my early morning reading over surgical & overnight notes for each patient.  During the first week, I covered about 6 patients/day, by the end I was covering the service which which usually included 17-26 patients, all of varying complexity.  I would meet with my preceptor 8am-8:30am to pre-round on patients.  From 8:30-9am were the interdisciplinary rounds with PAs, social workers, interns, and dietitians.  These rounds were very fast & took place in a conference room.  Thus I had to prioritize interventions that would be most acute to each patient & the team.  

After rounds I would update my preceptor & follow up with any requests from the team (e.g. coming up with an oral opioid pain regimen to get a patient off of PCA).  Mornings varied widely depending on team needs.  This also included covering the pager for service.  Around lunchtime I would attempt to look over patients entering the OR who would be admitted for postop management.

Afternoons were set aside for presentations, usually starting at 2pm.  Each general medicine student need to give one journal club, one topic discussion, and one case presentation.  With six students in the adult services, there was a presentation to attend every day.  Afterwards, I was free to return home.  In the evenings, I would work on my future presentations or go over patients for the next day.

Overall, this rotation block was busy but rewarding.  I also gave my PharmD seminar on the last day of this rotation.  Despite how busy I was throughout this block, it solidified my desire to pursue hospital pharmacy post-graduation.  My preceptor also emphasized the importance of writing weekly reflections & making note of meaningful interventions & observations.  The time I set aside for writing these reflections allowed me to keep my goals and mind & to make conscious steps towards them.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Rotation 1 Nontraditional and Rotation 2 Psychiatric Pharmacy

Posted by Sarah Choi at Wednesday, July 31, 2019

School is hard, and pharmacy school is even harder. We’re constantly studying for the next quiz or exam. We don’t absolutely love every subject we learn about in Therapeutics. It is so easy to lose sight of why we wanted to become pharmacists, but I can honestly say that P4 APPE rotations are different (though I’ve only completed 2 rotations). It’s equally as difficult, but now you’re experiencing new things every day and learning from real-life examples. You get to apply all the knowledge you’ve built up in the past three years, and it’s far easier to remember why you decided to become a pharmacist in the first place.

Rotation 1: Nontraditional Pharmacy
            My nontraditional rotation was at a specialty pharmacy. This was a great rotation to have after my P3 school year ended, largely because it required a lot of self-directed learning and projects. Specialty pharmacy is unique because there are so many high-cost and high-touch medications that require more time investment from every party involved, such as insurance companies, pharmacists, patients. Specialty medications weren’t covered in depth during class, so this rotation really gave me a chance to delve into different disease states (like cystic fibrosis, multiple sclerosis, and plaque psoriasis) and their unique treatments. I also completed two journal clubs during this rotation about newer specialty medications like Risankizumab and Tafamidis. The most valuable part of this rotation was that I was allowed to be curious and look up disease states and drugs that I was interested in; this was a breath of fresh air after three years of school where the curriculum was set. It reminded me of one of the main reasons I decided to pursue pharmacy: I love researching and learning about different diseases and treatment options.

Rotation 2: Psychiatric Pharmacy
            My second rotation was completely different from my first. While the first showed me how much I loved learning about different disease states and unique drugs, the second showed me how much impact a pharmacist can have on a patient’s treatment course. I worked with a team to manage the psychiatric care of about 9 to 11 patients a day. My mornings on this rotation included working up new patients (focusing on their psychiatric problems), attending table rounds with the interprofessional team, and visiting patients daily with the medical residents and students. Having the opportunity to go to rounds and discuss patients with other health professionals was so valuable. After the first week, I had built up enough confidence to speak up during rounds and advocate for my patients. Seeing patients day after day really showed much how much he or she can improve, and this is magnified when you know that you made a recommendation that contributed to the patient’s improvement.

Overall my first two rotations only have me excited for the rest of my rotations. I’m ready to learn and experience more. Thanks for reading and coming along the journey with me! I’ll be back after my third rotation (infectious diseases) is done!

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Health System/Hospital - Rotation 1

Posted by Makenzie at Wednesday, July 10, 2019

For my first rotation I was back to where it all started.  I was able to go back to my hometown and complete my first APPE at the hospital I was born.  I work at a different hospital in the same city but I was surprised at how many common connections there were with pharmacists & techs across institutions (pharmacy is indeed a “small world”).

I also wasn’t lonely at this rotation - I was joined by 12 P4s from Ferris State who were completing all of their APPEs at this one institution.  Many of us would have lunch together, go to each other’s seminars, and bounce ideas off of each other.  For my first APPE, it was nice to have the safety net of a large group of students.

The rotation itself was great.  My preceptor took into account my previous work experience and personalized the rotation to my interests and gaps of knowledge.  For example, I am already experienced at sterile compounding but haven’t done TPNs before, so I was able to modify my schedule to spend more time on TPN verification and compounding.

This particular APPE also had the option of attending an open heart surgery with an anesthesiologist.  The procedure was a quadruple bypass & over 6.5 hours long.  The anesthesiologist placed me standing on a stool at the head of bed, with the heart only an arm’s reach away.  I was prepared for what it would look like but the smells (cauterization) and sounds (cartilage breaking) was not something I was prepared for.  Throughout the anesthesiologist taught me about what meds were put on cont IV vs bolus and how he monitors the patient while the surgeon explained the pathophysiology of the patient’s a-fib.

The next morning I followed the patient on CCU rounds & was astounded that he was already sitting in a chair & eating after such major surgery.  Attending the surgery helped me understand a patient’s cardiac journey and what role health care providers & medication management play throughout.

As amazing as open heart surgery is, it wasn’t apart of a “typical day”.  A typical day was divided into 2 parts.  The mornings were always scheduled.  I spent half of the mornings of the rotation doing staff pharmacist work.  Dosing, front counter, IV, med safety, etc.  The other half of the mornings I would do rounding in the PICU, ICU, or CCU and was able to spend additional days rounding in units based on my interests.

Afternoons were spent doing projects.  Daily, I did patient educations on post-AMI medications or anticoagulation teaching and had weekly audits for titratable medications.  The afternoons were also when students would do topic discussions, clinical questions, or present patient cases as final projects.  I found it helpful to attend these sessions as it kept ambulatory care, general medicine, ID, etc topics at the forefront of my mind.

For rotation 2 I am back in Ann Arbor for my gen med rotation in adult surgery & to present my PharmD seminar at the end of July.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Rotation 7, 8, 9: Farewell, and Be Kind

Posted by Michael Tsai at Saturday, April 27, 2019


In a large academic medical center, I was specifically assigned to the operating room pharmacies in the main hospital, eye center, and children’s hospital throughout the week. In addition, I got to see the satellite pharmacy, the general infusion center, and the cancer infusion center pharmacies. Once a week, I attended meetings and worked on projects with a pharmacist working on the management side.

It was insightful to see how operating room pharmacies manage controlled substances and dispense kits for the anesthesia team. They also verify and dispense certain orders for patients before their operation. In the infusion center pharmacies, I saw the workflow of how pharmacists verified orders, how pharmacy technicians prepared medications, and how pharmacist checked preparations and noted stability of the medications. On the management side, I saw how space and workflow could impact delivery of patient medications throughout the hospital.

Since there were several pharmacists and pharmacy technicians on this rotation, I worked with different teams and had to adapt to different preferences and teaching styles. Also, while I was on this rotation, I was also interviewing for residency positions. Traveling was intense and time-consuming, but I’m grateful my preceptor was understanding and allowed me to make up days missed through additional hours or projects. Overall, it was a busy season for me, balancing rotations and interviews, but I am glad to have the experience as it allowed me to see the bigger picture of how pharmacies operate within the health-system.

Managed Care

I was placed at a large health plan for this rotation and worked under a pharmacist who was a manager on the medical benefit, where drugs managed needed to be administered by a healthcare professional. This was different from my previous managed care rotation, which was a prescription drug plan and focused on pharmacy benefits, where drugs managed were usually self-administered medications.

This rotation was project- and office-based. My main assignments included updating medical policies with support from literature and clinical guidelines, providing summaries of therapeutic agents for hemophilia, and analyzing medical oncology data to complete a report with charts and graphs. During the rotation, I also had informational interviews with pharmacists working in different departments of the company, including drug pipeline, formulary and rebates, legislation and policy, operations, regulatory oversight, and sales and marketing. These pharmacists played very interesting roles, bringing insight to the variety of positions available within managed care pharmacy. I hope to learn more and experience these different positions as I start a managed care pharmacy residency in the coming months after graduation.

My preceptor during this rotation was working on a medical oncology program, so I sat in on several internal meetings regarding the logistics of implementation and external meetings with the vendor to ensure responsibilities were carried out on both sides. Other meetings I attended involved a quarterly drug pipeline update and internal sales and marketing meetings and consultations. While I had previous experiences in managed care through student organization involvement, internships, and a rotation, this experience added on to that, exposing me to the medical benefit, different pharmacist roles, and vendor relations. I am excited that there is still much more to learn about managed care pharmacy.

General Medicine/Pediatrics

My final rotation was in a children’s’ hospital on the mid-day shift. Here, I got to work under a pediatric generalist pharmacist, and my role was to assist in verification of total parenteral nutrition (TPN) orders and pharmacokinetic service of antibiotics. It was interesting to learn about pediatrics and nutrition, since these topics are not widely covered in the pharmacy curriculum. Pediatric patients should not be considered as smaller adults since they differ greatly in distribution and clearance of medication compared to adults. To verify nutrition orders, I navigated through a patient’s chart, collecting weight, fluid goals, recent lab values, urine output, relevant medications, and the order put in by the dietician. I would make sure that the volume of the TPN was calculated correctly and that changes to macronutrients and electrolytes within the TPN made sense. For the pharmacokinetic service, I was responsible for interpreting vancomycin or aminoglycoside levels that resulted during my shift. From these levels, I would make recommendations on whether to continue therapy or change therapy, noting the dose and interval of the drug regimen, and on when to check levels again.

The mid-day shift itself was different, but exposed me to the endless work that pharmacists put in at the hospital. Additionally, as my last pharmacy school practice experience, this rotation showed me that the learning never stops. I was constantly looking up answers to my preceptor’s questions and diving into the field of pediatrics. Even though my plans after graduation have been set, I still very much appreciated seeing and experiencing yet another perspective of pharmacy.

Now that my time at the University of Michigan College of Pharmacy has come to an end, I hope that you have enjoyed following the journey of my final year and gained insight into the practice experiences of a pharmacy student.

“For today, goodbye. For tomorrow, good luck. And forever, Go Blue!" 
– Mary Sue Coleman

Monday, March 25, 2019

Rotation 8: General Medicine

Posted by Unknown at Monday, March 25, 2019

Today was my last first day of school ever!! In 5 weeks I will graduate with my PharmD from the University of Michigan and will be preparing for a residency program in Colorado!! There are lots of changes coming in the next three months and I'm feeling a mix of excited, scared and sad. Excited because of the great adventures awaiting me and my husband out in Colorado (professionally and personally), scared because of the major changes and transitions about to happen, and sad because I'll be leaving my family, friends and home. I'm planning on taking some time over the next three months to prepare for these changes in an attempt to leave this place and these people well.

One thing I know has helped prepare me for residency is the general medicine rotation I just finished. I was in the inpatient adult hospital working with a clinical pharmacist and a medical team taking care of patients admitted to the family medicine service. This was my most difficult and demanding rotation. I learned a ton, but it was extremely stressful. The service I was on had a maximum of 24 patients (most others had a max of 12 or 16), and there were multiple times we got close to that max. There were also 4 projects/presentations throughout the rotation, a weekend shift, and a dental on-call pager we were responsible for at different points during the rotation.

The biggest thing I want to tell future P4's is that you're likely going to need to re-learn how to work up patients. The way we were taught in school was very different than what I was expected to do. Also, every inpatient rotation is going to have you work up and present patients a little differently due to the nature of the services. Make sure you ask the preceptor how they do it and what they expect of you. We were taught in school to look into all of the details about the patient including the diagnosis and history details. As a pharmacist, those things are important, but you cannot spend all of your time investigating them. You are likely not going to be asked on rounds to present the patient, and so it is more important for you to focus on other things. You need to learn how to be efficient in looking into the pharmacy-related problems and monitoring parameters. This took me longer than I expected, but once I did, working up patients was much more smooth and took less time.
Additionally, MiChart has a TON of really helpful reports you can run that will save you a TON of time when working up patients. Make sure you ask your preceptor/classmates at the beginning of the rotation to make sure you are capitalizing on the reports already available to save you time.
Finally, you will be amazed by what you are able to learn and accomplish during this rotation. This is a hard rotation. But, it is only 5 weeks (you can get through 5 weeks), your workload will build up over the rotation, you'll start to see repeats of the same disease states, and you'll figure out how to get the work done. You'll be able to make it through this rotation! I was so encouraged when things came up during rotation that I hadn't known only a few days prior. Even today (my first day at the new rotation), something came up that I could speak to with confidence because of what I learned on my general medicine rotation. All of these things will prepare you for residency/job/life after school.

With that, I'll be back one more time to let you know how this last rotation goes!

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Rotation 7: Oral Oncology (Ambulatory Care)

Posted by Unknown at Saturday, February 16, 2019

Over the last 6 weeks I had the opportunity to experience a new (to me) kind of Ambulatory Care clinic. I worked with the Oral Oncology team to follow-up with people who were on oral medications for their cancer.

This was a phone-based clinic where we did initial, 10 day follow-up, and 6 month follow-up calls. Initial calls included medication counseling on how to take the medication, possible side effects and how to manage the side effects. We followed up with these patients after they had been taking the medication for about 10 days (and then 6 months) to see how they were doing.

This rotation required critical thinking and problem solving as each patient case was different and needed to be examined in order to know the appropriate time to contact the patient. Follow-up calls also needed to be handled differently in terms of setting up additional follow-up by the team or by clinic.

I also had the opportunity to be in the Genitourinary cancer clinic one half-day a week. This was the first time I experienced an ambulatory care clinic where the pharmacist did not have a set schedule of patients to see during the day. The pharmacist would use a custom scoring tool in order to decide which of the physician's patients she was going to see that day. When she went and saw patients she did a lot of symptom management and medication counseling. She was also available for questions from the nurses and physicians. Being in the GU clinic helped break up my Monday's, but it also allowed me to see a different format of ambulatory care clinics; and for that I am very thankful.

One of the best things about this rotation was the people! I got to work with multiple pharmacists, residents and pharmacy students who were extremely passionate about the work we were doing as well as extremely knowledgeable about the subject.

As I finish this rotation and move on to the next I am taking with me a greater confidence and ability to counsel patients, communicate empathy and adapt to different situations quickly.

As a follow-up to my last post I also wanted to talk briefly about this last rotation in terms of residency interviews. This rotation was 6 weeks long (1 week longer than the others) to allow for students to miss up to 5 days for interviews. I am very thankful that I was able to finish all of my residency interviews during the 5 days this rotation. Now all I have to do is rank the programs and wait until March 15th!