Saturday, November 10, 2012

Life with Lexicomp

Posted by Janis Rood at Saturday, November 10, 2012

Rotation 5: Drug Information - Medical Writing

Yes, I just spent the last five weeks working from home in my pajamas.  However, much of my time was not spent medical writing.  In fact, the first week of rotation I really had no clue what I was doing except all my laundry and dishes were done.  This lack of structure was done on purpose as a way for the preceptor to gauge a student's level of ownership with their work.  For me these were very difficult waters to tread.  I had no trouble getting up each morning, working, staying on task, producing good work.  However, I had a tough time figuring out what was expected of me, how to judge my time management skills, how to gauge my progress.  We were given drug-drug interactions that already exist and tasked with finding all new literature regarding them, updating the monographs, and word-smithing the content.  I never felt confident that my approach to searching, evaluation or assimilation were correct.  However, none of this was actually seen so there was no way to receive feedback.  All I turned in was the updated monograph.

I know myself well enough that I am very plan-oriented, and working on random projects without a goal in mind would be five weeks of torture.  After the first week, I finished all my projects and asked to meet with the preceptor.  I explained my frustrations, and he seemed very surprised but extremely open to my needs.  Together we came up with a list of goals and objectives that I wanted to get out of the rotation.  Specifically, I listed all of the ways in which I felt weak in the areas of literature searching, analysis, evaluation and writing.  From that time forward, my preceptor adjusted the projects towards my interests with special attention to my weaknesses.  I was able to fully engage in topics that interested in me, while at the same time strengthening my skills.  We also kept an open feedback dialogue so I could easily chart my progress.

In the end, I am proud of the monographs that I edited and drafted, the databases I produced on natural products, and my overhaul analysis of OATP1B1 literature.  Ultimately, I decided that such a job would not be the best fit me for the following reasons:

1) I am a workaholic.  Working from home, while flexible, means that you never really leave work.  I need the physical separation from my workplace in order to stop working and not feel guilty about it.

2) I need my patients.  I discovered that what gives me the most satisfaction out of my work as a pharmacist is the impact I make on patients.  My work with Lexi supports evidence-based decisions, but is too far removed for my liking.

3) I need a team.  I like working with people and collaborating.  I felt extremely lonely working by myself, yet a little bit of a loser if I spent 8 hours in a coffee shop.  I much prefer to go to work, spend time working with other people in a team, then come home when all is said and done.

Nevertheless, I did come away with specific new insights:

1) I better understand the art of searching for literature, tweaking strategies, evaluating relevance, and compiling results.  I feel confident that given a topic, I could efficiently complete a literature review.

2) I no longer gravitate towards the discussion section or author's conclusion of an article.  It is so easy to do this, to get the point and get out.  However, I found that if I spent the time going through the statistics, teaching myself what they did, and analyzing the results myself, I came away with a much better understanding and could fully critique the author's conclusions.  I feel confident that over time this will get easier and easier, even though the time spent up front is a tad torturous.

3). Concision, concision, concision.  I learned how to create structure and use this to cut down words without losing my message.  Still a work in progress, but much improved.

All in all a good experience, but not my favorite rotation.

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