Sunday, September 25, 2011

Feeling the weight of my HIV/AIDS rotation

Posted by Anna Polk at Sunday, September 25, 2011

Rotation 2 has come and gone and I am spending my Sunday afternoon frantically addressing all of the things I put off during the month (like blogging, for example!)  I spent the rotation in Chicago with fellow P4 Jennifer Wang, working at Walgreens inside the Howard Brown Health Center, one of the nation’s largest LGBT healthcare organizations.  Two afternoons a week we would also head down to a free multidisciplinary HIV/AIDS clinic at Mercy Hospital on Chicago’s south side.

Jenn and I arrived on our first day, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, ready to tackle this new patient population and feeling confident in our knowledge, having memorized all of the drug names that were assigned to us.  We quickly realized, however, that we effectively knew absolutely nothing.  Every night we would race home to start looking up questions that arose during the day and preparing our assignments for the next day.  I didn’t have internet where I was staying (my apologies if I neglected any emails from you!!) so my iPhone and I spent a significant amount of quality time together.  Jenn and I also realized that we were not going to spend a portion of each day shopping and eating great Chicago food like we had originally planned.  

    So what did we accomplish during the month?  Six OTC topic discussions, two presentations to PsyD students, one MTM session apiece, two hours of online continuing education, two pharmaceutical company dinners, one crash course in immunizations, four learning modules with case discussions, six mock patient consultations, four STD consultations and one final exam.  And that was in addition to the day to day work of filling, verifying, counseling patients and attending clinic!  Plus we managed to squeeze in trips to the Field Museum, Museum of Contemporary Art, Shedd Aquarium, Willis Tower, Millennium Park, a Cubs game and an architectural boat tour.  Phew! I am tired just typing that out.  

    All in all, it was a completely exhausting month, but also incredibly rewarding.  I went from knowing very little about the management of HIV to feeling confident counseling patients on all of their different treatment options and helping select a regimen with the highest likelihood for success.  I held an AIDS-induced dementia patient’s hand while she had wound dressings changed.  I helped a patient with a CD4 count of 7 (AIDS diagnosis is <200) administer his Neupogen injections.  I filled a transgendered patient’s first prescriptions that would help her lead the new life she was looking for.  Basically, I solidified my desire to be a patient-centered pharmacist, intimately involved in all aspects of patient care.  

    Well, I could probably write an entire novel about my rotation, but I better end here so I can begin preparing for my Cardiology rotation at Allegiance Hospital in Jackson, MI.  Stay tuned!

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