Preparing for Rotations

Hey guys! I’m writing today to list out how to best prepare to be on your A-Game when you start APPE rotations. Note: This is just what has helped me feel prepared as I go into rotations in May. Other things may work better for different people.

1. First things first, during the first 3 years of pharmacy school, study hard and study well. It is beneficial to work hard to get short-term memory into long-term memory so that you remember all the important stuff for all of the years ahead of you in your career. One of the ways that I do this is to make Quick Disease Fact Sheets after each disease state (or set of disease states) tackled in pharmacy school. I have discussed these before and the link to that blog post is here. You can also do the same thing with specific medications or classes of medications to make sure you remember the BIG, IMPORTANT points.

2. Second, it is important to continue studying, even when you begin rotations. What has been beneficial to me is to buy an RxPrep book (several years old) that was relatively cheap on Amazon. I am going through these topics nightly so that I’m well versed in what I need to know. We do not receive our RxPrep book for the current year until around September/October, so having the older model around before that comes will prove worthwhile.

3. Stay organized. It is very important to remain organized as APPEs are approaching. You should know which rotation is coming up when so you know where to focus your energy in the week or so leading up to that rotation. For example, if your first rotation is a cardiology rotation, it would be a good idea to brush up on the cardiology disease states before heading into that rotation.

4. Be prepared to be wrong or to not know an answer. It is important to be okay with not knowing everything. As pharmacy students, a lot of us are worried about being seen as ignorant. However, the preceptors on rotations understand that it is impossible for us to know everything about the world of pharmacy. A lot of that comes with being in the career field itself. A lot of the time, they aren’t testing our knowledge, but are testing our ability to admit when we don’t know something and our ability to look it up in a reputable source. This is not to say that they don’t expect us to know something… I mean, if they ask you what the brand/generic name or indication is of something… you NEED TO KNOW that.

5. And last but not least, the most important way to prepare for APPE rotations is to just trust yourself and breathe. It will all be okay. You’ve got this. WE’VE GOT THIS. I’m right there with you. If you ever need anything, feel free to reach out.

And as always…

Stay Golden,

Emily

Study Tips: Final Exams in Pharmacy School

In order to best study for final exams, I start studying ~3-4 days BEFORE I EVEN THINK THAT I NEED TO STUDY for an exam. It is critical to give yourself enough time. Here are some tips that I have to make that happen:

Make “Quick Disease Fact Sheets” or “Quick Medication Fact Sheets”

Example Quick Disease Fact Sheets That I’ve Created

I suggest for Disease States to focus on Key Features of the Disease, Pathophysiology, Risk Factors, Medication Management, and Non-Pharmacological Interventions. For Medications, I suggest focusing on Indication, Generic and Brand Names, Side Effects, and Therapeutic Class. It might be helpful to include pictures and charts.

Create a Rough Schedule for Studying

By this, I mean plan out which days leading up to exams that you are going to spend on each subject. For example: Monday: Pharmacotherapy 1, Tuesday: Research and Design, Wednesday: Integrated Pharmaceutical Sciences 1, etc.

Listen to Study Music

Here, I’ve attached a Study Music Playlist that I listen to on Spotify! It may be helpful to create your own.

Avoid Distractions

Put that phone down. Turn off that TV. Go somewhere quiet. Anything to help you avoid distractions.

Use a Timer!

There are lots of Study Timers online. I like the Pomodoro Method of Studying where you have 25 minutes of studying and then a 5 minute break. After an hour, you get a 15 minute break. Here is a useful online timer!

TAKE BREAKS

Going along with the last one, remember to take breaks! Your brain will stop absorbing information after about 20-25 minutes without a break because, as humans, we have a short attention span.

Avoid Cramming

This kinda goes without saying, but I feel like I still have to say it. Don’t wait until the last minute to study.

Make Quizlets or Practice Tests

This one has worked really well for me over the year. Being able to create my own questions with the material gets me thinking about it in different ways. I’ve even been able to anticipate almost the exact question that a professor is going to ask.

Focus on What You Don’t Remember!

If you spend most of your time going over the stuff that you got right on previous tests, you are going to neglect the stuff that you had a hard time with. The point of studying is to get a better grasp on the things that you don’t know or have a hard time remembering.

Get some SLEEP.

It is extremely important to sleep, especially during this time. It allows you to better retain information and leads to increased performance.

Good luck on your exams!!

Stay Golden,

Emily

It’s Not the Stress That Kills Us, It’s Our Reaction to It.

To be 100% honest with you guys, this semester hasn’t really been too stressful for me. I’ve been able to do a lot of things that I never would have thought I could during pharmacy school.

However, this week hit me like a ton of bricks. I’m sure a lot of you know exactly where I’m coming from… everything is going well and all of the projects and exams are spaced out and life is good and then all of a sudden it’s like your world was flipped on it’s head.

I know that sounds kinda dramatic, but that’s how I feel. How do you go from one or maybe two things a week to everything being due all at once?

This week I have a pharmacotherapy exam, an NDU (New Drug Utilization) presentation, a Business Plan Proposal, and a SOAP note due. On top of that, I have to read 100 pages for one of my classes and do other little homework assignments along the way.

But the thing is that, I know everything will be okay. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, and for the first time in my life, I’m handling the stress in a productive way. I’m staying positive, taking deep breaths when I feel overwhelmed, and remembering how blessed I am to be able to have this mess of a life and be in pharmacy school so that I can graduate and do what I love.

One of the biggest things that has helped me deal with my stress is to take time and grow my relationship with God. I try to do a section out of my devotional every night no matter what is going on. This helps me reel in all of the negative feelings and remember all that I have to be thankful for.

We all get a little overwhelmed sometimes, but it will be okay. Everything will work out the way it should, and God’s got this!

Feel free to reach out if you’re feeling overwhelmed, or if you just want to talk. I’m here!

You’re not alone in this crazy thing we call life.

Stay strong and Stay Golden,

Emily

A Month in my Life: IPPE Hospital Rotation

Hey y’all! It’s been an amazing month in my Hospital IPPE rotation. I’m writing this blog post as an update about what I’ve been up to the past month! Enjoy.

Week 1: Learning about the medication dispensing/ order verifying process in a hospital pharmacy.

This week I learned a lot about how the typical hospital pharmacy might run on a day-to-day basis.

Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday: I spent these days shadowing a pharmacy technician to see what they did on a typical day. We filled orders using the automatic medication carousels, which are basically rotating carousels with bins of medications in them. When you scan an order’s label, the carousel moves to the place the medication should be located in and you just have to pick out how many tablets/capsules that you need and scan the barcode on the medication. Medications in the carousel are all already pre-packaged in unit-doses so that you can just pull out the exact amount of tablets/capsules that you need for a patient’s dose. We also spent some time delivering medications to the different nurses’ stations to put in patients’ bins and also replinished the “pyxis” on each floor. A pyxis is a computerized medication holding device that holdsthe nurses’ floor stock of medications. This allows the nurse to get medications that are used often more quickly than waiting for delivery from the pharmacy.

Thursday/Friday Morning: I spent these days learning about hospital pharmacy inventory. I spent time with the medication buyer, learning from how she ran things. We unpacked and checked in all of the totes that were delivered in the morning on both days. This took quite a bit of time. Our pharmacy is also the delivery site for some of the other departments of the hospital so we went and delivered those totes to the appropriate departments. We took calls from providers trying to get medications that were not on formulary and tried to see if it would be possible for us to purchase the medications. We also prepared the order at the end of each day and made sure that it was complete and ready to be delivered to us the next day.

Friday Afternoon: I spent a lot of this time watching my preceptor (the lead pharmacist and clinical coordinator) verify orders in the main pharmacy and check that IV preparations were made according to their order.

Week 2: Learning about IV preparation in a hospital pharmacy.

Monday/Tuesday: These days were not the most fun I’ve ever had in my life, but they needed to happen for me to be prepared enough to start making IV preparations. On these days, I garbed up in the appropriate PPE and watched the technician draw up and compound IVs.

Wednesday: We spent this day cleaning all of the clean room areas. We spent 4 hours cleaning the clean room, ante room, and chemotherapy room with the appropriate solution and then again with alcohol. When I say clean… I mean CLEAN. We cleaned the walls, floors, ceiling, chairs, etc. Anything that was in the room got cleaned. After I did that, I was actually able to help put “vial-mates” together. Those are devices that allow the IV bag and the medication vial to be attached so that the nurse can wait to mix it all together right before they are about to give the dose. They can be made in advance and we keep a stock of pre-made vial-mates in the pharmacy.

Thursday/Friday: On these days I was actually able to compound IV preparations. I actually drew up volumes of liquid and injected them into IV bags. This was actually really fun. I am super happy that I was able to actually have this experience during my rotation.

Week 3: Learning about medication reconciliation and taking medication histories from a patient (in the Emergency Department) and more IVs (YAY).

Monday/Tuesday: I spent these days learning how to take an appropriate medication history from a patient and how to follow up with the patient’s pharmacy or family members if I had any discrepencies. I had a lot of fun interacting with the patients and actually being able to talk to them about their medications. I probably saw about 15-20 patients on both days in the emergency department. I didn’t see anything crazy come through though like I was expecting when I heard that I would be in the ED.

Wednesday: I spent this day back in the IV room preparing IV preparations.

Thursday: July 4th! I didn’t have to go into the hospital this day… I spent it by the pool 🙂

Friday: I presented a presentation to the pharmacy staff on how to take an effective medication history. I also spent some time shadowing my preceptor on her rounds and how she looks at patient charts with a “clinical eye”. I was able to help her counsel a patient on a new diagnosis of heart failure and I was able to change a patient from an IV medication to an oral form by looking at the patient’s chart and seeing that they were already taking all of their other medications by mouth.

Week 4: Learning about clinical pharmacists and their roles in the hospital pharmacy setting.

Monday: On this day, I shadowed another pharmacist on his rounds and helped him prepare for a presentation that he had to present to a group of senior citizens on opioids for osteoarthritis and dependance on opioids.

Tuesday: On Tuesday, I shadowed the pharmacist that I shadowed on Monday. We looked through patient charts to see if there was anything that we could change. For example, there was a patient on IV azithromycin, but they were taking drugs by mouth… we changed their azithromycin to PO (by mouth).

Wednesday: On this day, I shadowed another pharmacist and focused on cardiac patients. I looked in patient charts and determined if they were on the correct anticoagulants and checked INRs, etc. I also gave a presentation on hospital formularies and P&T committees.

Thursday: I shadowed my preceptor, went with her on her rounds, and helped her counsel patients. We had 2 sets of patients to run through this day, so there wasn’t much free time.

Friday: My preceptor and I sat in the ED and verified orders that had been received from the ED. We also looked at culture results for recent ED patients to see if the antibiotics that they were discharged on were actually active against the colonies that grew in their cultures. I also had my evaluation on this day since it was my last day there.

I am truly going to miss the people that work at the pharmacy. I enjoyed my rotation a lot. I’m so happy that I had the opportunity to learn from all of those people.

I hope you all enjoy your rotations if you have some left, if not… I hope you enjoyed reading about my experience and learning about some of the things that pharmacists might do in the hospital setting.

Stay golden,

Emily

Being Alone But Not Lonely

It’s Autumn, and that means that it is “cuffing season.” Being single can be hard.

It’s hard when everyone around you is getting engaged, getting married, or starting a family. Heck most of my friends will be starting their careers in 2019 or have already done it.

It’s harder still because social media makes you feel like EVERYONE around you is doing these things. “So and so just got engaged”… *insert cute wedding pictures from another couple’s wedding*

Your brain (if you’re anything like me) is constantly nagging at you: “what’s wrong with you?”…”why are you still single?”… “you’re going to be alone forever.”

It’s hard to deal with these emotions, but it’s not impossible. It doesn’t have to be depressing, sad, or stressful to be single.

Here are my tips on how to be alone but not lonely, and how to remind yourself that you still have plenty of time to find that great love:

1. Spend time with other single people. This one is probably rather obvious, but it helps a lot. When you’re constantly hanging around couples all of the time, it’s no wonder you feel terrible. They’re great friends and you should spend time with them, but don’t forget the friends you have that are single. Hang out with them as a group to feel less lonely…and maybe even one of them will be interested in you without you realizing!

2. Spend time with family. This is probably another obvious one. For me, this meant moving back home, but for others this could just mean visiting every now and again or calling them on the phone. Your family is always going to be there, and talking to them is a great way to feel less lonely.

3. Date yourself. This one is the most crucial to me. Take yourself on dates, spoil yourself with attention and “me time.” You won’t regret giving your extra attention to your mental, physical, and emotional wellbeing.

4. Save that money. One of the perks of being single is that you don’t have to spend money on a significant other. Save your extra money for something you’ve really been wanting or start a travel fund.

5. Keep a journal. Every day, write down 3 things that you like about yourself or your life, 2 things that you would like to improve, and 1 thing that you’re thankful for. Work on the things that you need to improve and always think about the things that you like about yourself. Most of the time, if you feel confident about yourself, it’ll show through your attitude and will be attractive.

6. Don’t worry, don’t put yourself down. One of the biggest mistakes we make when we are single is complaining about how much we wish we had someone, how we don’t think we will ever find someone, or how we don’t understand why nobody likes us. First of all, someone does like you! You just don’t know it yet. You have to keep up faith that you will find someone because it’s that lack of faith that leads to the loneliness of being single. The feeling that you’ll never find someone.

7. Remember it comes when you least expect it. Live your life for you. Focus on you and bettering yourself. It will come when it’s supposed to, but until then, enjoy your life and cherish the extra time you get to spend with friends and family.

Stay Golden,

Emily

Real Talk: Anxiety & School

Wow. Y’all… I’m so sorry that I haven’t posted in a while, but this semester has been a WHIRLWIND. It’s definitely a fact that the P2 year is the hardest in pharmacy school.

I have been running around like a chicken with its head cut off. I haven’t had a chance to take in a solid breath. But here I am… on Fall Break… here to talk about the biggest issue in most of our lives; anxiety and stress.

I’ve always been a perfectionist. I’ve always needed to make all A’s and the Dean’s List. Over the years, this has proven to be bittersweet. This mentality forced me to work my butt off in high school, and because of it, I was 10th in my class. However, I’m always so stressed and so moody when school is in session. This is not the way to live. I’ve been allowing school to be the only important thing in my life over the years. I’ve been neglecting my friends and family, and for that, thank you for being so patient with me. I make myself so stressed and don’t give myself time to relax because that means neglecting my studying… risking my A. This is by far the most difficult thing for me. I feel guilty if I just go to the grocery store with my parents or anything like that.

In my case, this perfectionism is a part of my anxiety. It’s part of my life. Being diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), I know that it isn’t going to be easy to get rid of this perfectionism, but I’m trying.

However, perfectionism isn’t the only way that anxiety affects me. There’s also a social aspect to my anxiety. I always get anxious that people don’t really like me and that I’m alone, but I have a hard time going out and doing fun things because I get anxious in social situations. I’m constantly pushing myself into social situations to combat this. The good thing is that if I promise someone that I’m going to go somewhere, I CAN’T cancel. I get even more anxious to cancel plans, so this is a good way to force myself to go out and do things. I’m slowly working on being okay with going out and doing something fun every weekend even though I have to study.

Anyways… here we are. It’s Fall Break, and I’m still stressed. That’s pharmacy school for you… really that’s college in general. My anxiety pushes me to be the best I can be, but at what cost? My sanity? My friendships?

So here’s to the rest of the semester and trying to relax a little when I can. Good luck to everyone else in their endeavors! You got this!

Stay Golden,

Emily

 

When You Think That God is Not Here

Have you ever wondered why bad things happen to good, Godly people? Have you been wondering where God is when all of the terrible things have been happening in the United States right now and over the past decade… hell… over the whole existence of the US? How could God be present in this country… in some of these people? Why does He make me go through the struggle of finding my soulmate and all the people I’ve had to deal with to get there?

There isn’t one right answer.

Nobody truly knows why bad things happen to good people, but you’ve got to take a faith-based approach to it if you’re wondering why God is not present. The thing is… He is.

Sometimes pain awakens us to God. The painful experiences that we go through can help us become closer to God or to be good people in general. Think of all of the horrible things that have happened in the United States. God has brought good out of the rubble. When hurricanes and tornadoes wipe out entire cities, people from all over get up the courage to go help out. When 9/11 happened, it increased our security and love poured out from all over the country and all over the world.

Evil is a choice. God is all-knowing, but he gives us the power to make our own choices. Some people choose to give into the evil, but to be honest, ALL sin is evil. Even the most righteous of people are subject to evil and sin on a daily basis. You have a choice whether or not to do the right thing and for a lot of us… that is a hard thing to do.

God will not give you more than you can handle. Everything you go through is a challenge from God to make you stronger. Think about it… have you ever been in one of your lowest times and you feel like you’re about to give up and then all of a sudden something happens to make it better? For example (even though it’s a simple one), have you ever just given up on finding a good person to date and then all of the sudden a few days later someone comes into your life that you could see a future with? These things don’t happen by chance.

Now I was saying that God never gives us more than we can handle, but that’s just not true for Satan… for the evil in our lives. Ever wonder why someone attempted suicide? It’s because the evil in this world never stops. Satan never stops trying to undermine God… to make you feel worthless. These beautiful souls are no less people than you and I. I’m so sick of people believing that you are going to Hell if you commit suicide. Depression is NOT a sin. Depression is Satan’s way of getting you to let in all the evil that he sets forth in the world. Like any sin a believer can commit, suicide can be forgiven. I promise you right now that my grandmother did not go to Hell. I know people are going to argue about this, but there is no way that God let that woman or any of these children who just couldn’t take the burden of bullying go to Hell. He is not a cruel God. He is a merciful and loving God.

Enough said.

Stay Golden,

Emily

 

The Life of A Pharmacy Student As Told By Shondaland

Being a Pharmacy Student is always the most fun… right? Well, let’s see what Shonda has to say about how we feel.

We get excited about all of the things that we learn, but when we tell our friends about it all… their reaction is:

When your professor says “disregard everything you’ve been taught about this before because it is probably wrong”…

When your professor doesn’t respond to an urgent email:

When you literally study for days for an exam and don’t do nearly as well as you wanted:

When you go out with your friends instead of doing your work because YOU’VE HAD ENOUGH:

When someone asks you how pharmacy school is going and your only response is to smile and nod (and not even answer):

When your professor lets you out of class late:

When you have rotations and you’re concerned about human existence:

And last but not least… When you know you’re killing it and will keep killing it:

Stay Golden (I know I’m trying),

Emily

From the Girl Who Can’t Live Without Her Parents

Honestly, I don’t understand how parents can be so different sometimes. There are parent who don’t care to be involved in their kid’s life, there are parents who won’t back off of their kids, there are parents who can’t spend time with their kids because they work to pay the bills, and there are so many more variations of parents and how they treat their kids.

Having the parents that I do, I could never give them up. I mean, I did move away, but I still see them every week. I literally cannot imagine having to live without my parents. Judge me if you want, but I think that my parents are my best friends.

I mean is there a better best friend than a parent who truly cares about you and your wellbeing? I think not. My parents are always going to be by my side and they would never do anything to hurt me. They are always going to be there for me. They are always going to support me. They are always going to LOVE me.

You can sit there and argue that your best friend is always going to be there, but let’s face it… friendships end on whims, they end because of petty fights, and they end because they just weren’t meant to last. Friendships are for years where family is for a lifetime.

I don’t care what anyone has to say about me or the way I live my life. All I know is that I would never give up the time that I get with my family for anything in this world.

I love you Mama and Daddy (and Justin too).

Stay Golden,

Emily

The Nice Ones Finish Last Until…

“The Nice Ones Finish Last.” It’s a quote we hear so often that it’s second nature to think. It’s honestly one of the most annoying things that I’ve ever heard, but it does indeed exist. The thing is, the nice ones are always going to finish last until…

They find the right person.

They find their passion (work or otherwise).

They work for it.

They believe in their abilities.

They focus on what is truly important.

They love unconditionally.

They realize what is right for them and what is not.

They forgive.

Basically, the nice ones do finish last, but they finish last on the things that are not meant for them. They finish last on the things that they don’t actually benefit from in the long run. That’s how life works. So, keep your head up… keep living life.

And as always…

Stay Golden,

Emily