Friday, August 23, 2013

Not "Just" Community Pharmacy Rotation at Sam’s Club

Posted by Ashley Wester at Friday, August 23, 2013


May 20, 2013. To some people it may have just been a normal Monday, but to me and my College of Pharmacy classmates, it was a day of transition as we went from mostly classroom-bound P3 students to almost-clinician P4s. They tell you when you start pharmacy school that “it’s going to fly by” and “before you know it, you’ll be all done,” but until you’re sitting in your car in a parking lot, staring at the entrance to your first P4 rotation site and hoping you’ve learned (or should I say, retained) enough throughout the past three years, it really doesn’t hit you. They were right – time FLIES!

Community pharmacy is generally a realm of pharmacy that most people are familiar with, as pharmacists who work in the community are the most accessible to the general population. I admittedly wasn’t the most excited to have to complete the community rotation as a requirement during P4 year, as I’d had several years of practice as a pharmacy technician at a couple of different community pharmacies as well as during my IPPE in P2 year. Luckily, this experience at Sam’s Club with my awesome preceptor, Dr. Sujal Patel, was definitely not what I was expecting! Walking through the doors to the giant warehouse and into the small but cozy pharmacy in the back of the store, I immediately felt welcomed by the staff. It wasn’t long before I was learning the system, filling the prescriptions, and putting my therapeutic knowledge to use through patient counseling.

My experience on this rotation was not the normal community pharmacy experience, however. Since Sam’s Club as a company was just starting the immunization program in their pharmacies, I had the opportunity to educate the staff not only in our pharmacy, but in several other pharmacies across the state during the roll-out of this program. I put together a binder of resources on the administration of vaccines and helped develop the protocol for their dispensing. This allowed me to not only brush up on my immunization knowledge, but to further develop my communication skills with other health care providers. Once our program went live, I was able to educate patients about their vaccinations too! This was probably one of my favorite parts of this rotation.

Another memorable aspect of this rotation was the health fair I was able to participate in. When I first started at Sam’s Club, all I knew about the health fair was that it was on a Saturday, which meant I’d be missing out on half of my weekend! Despite some initial complaints to my classmates about having to go in on a Saturday, I ended up having a great experience! June’s health fair focused on men’s health, and incorporated PSA testing, TSH testing, BMI evaluations as well as blood pressure assessments. The major niche for me in this setting was to interpret and counsel patients on their blood pressure screens and BMI calculations. I was surprised how many patients really wanted to talk to me about their screenings, and also about how much advice I was able to communicate about lifestyle changes, advocating for a healthy diet and exercise. I even had a couple urgent situations with patients that had less than optimal blood pressure screens, so that part kept me on my toes! Luckily, everyone left the health fair feeling okay and those who needed it were counseled to follow up with their physicians as soon as possible. You never know, I may have indirectly saved some lives that day!

All in all I really enjoyed the rotation and had a great time getting to know my preceptor and the technicians. Besides all the great clinical knowledge I gained, I also learned not to judge a rotation by its classified requirement! I’m excited to start rotation 2 and see what it has in store!

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