Friday, July 29, 2011

A Note About the First Rotation and What is Pharmacy School Like?

Posted by Matthew Lewis at Friday, July 29, 2011

Since this is my first post, let me introduce myself. I'm Matt, I've lived in Michigan my whole life, and got my undergraduate degree here at U of M. Right now, I have a strong interest in infectious disease (ID) pharmacy, as well as transplant pharmacy (mostly because of the ID aspect). I am excited and more than a little nervous about starting my first rotation. I'll be in the pediatric (peds) critical care ward of Mott in the University of Michigan Health System. It's a world renowned system and has all sorts of awards and highest level trauma centers. Basically, if a kid is really sick, they are coming to Mott. Being part of this system and the U of M pharmacy program coupled with the complexity of these patients means I have to bring my A-game. Another part of the difficulty associated with peds is they are not adults. Okay, that is obvious, but practically all of my classwork, all the studies I've read, and all the patients I have seen so far have been adults. Drugs work differently in kids than adults, so I have to make sure I've got pediatric dosing and efficacy in mind when working here and not stuck in "adult mode". It's sort of like being a mechanic for cars, but then switching to planes; everything you learned on one does not just translate to the other. I'm sure you've seen posts from my P4 colleague Jenna, who's crazy for peds, so if you want to learn more about pediatric pharmacy right this instant, (and who doesn't?) go check out her posts.

On another topic, some people have asked me what pharmacy school is like. I think a good analogy, at least for the academic part, is trench warfare. There are periods of digging in, where you just have to keep your head down. You find a close buddy or two who always has your back. There are times where you hear the whistle to go "over the top" and charge for the next trench, which can be the next set of exams or the next year. Oh, and in times of calm we celebrate, lots of celebration. Of course nobody is shooting at us though, so that is a plus.

Outside of the classroom, pharmacy school is incredibly rich and rewarding, and sometimes as educational as our academic portion, since you have the opportunity to meet, shadow, and have personal relationships with some of the superstars of pharmacy. I am not kidding, some of our staff are known around the world, other staff members have created whole new ways to deliver medications in the body, and others still have written chapters for pharmacy textbooks used around America. You also have so many opportunities to get to know your classmates while helping out the community. We have several student organizations such as APhA-ASP, HSP, and the pharmacy fraternity PDC among many others where pharmacy students go out into the area for health fairs and presentations, as well as the occasional purely social get together like the PDC ski trip(members only) or the PharmBash Ball organized by APhA. However, whenever anybody interested in going to pharmacy school asks me, I always end with, "Pharmacy school is what you make of it.", and leading up to the P4 year, I think I've put a lot into this program and it has given me a lot, and will continue to do so this year and beyond.

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