My Immersion Experience – Bliss Green

Students have their first immersion (pharmacy rotation) the summer after their PY1 year. They are placed in either a hospital (health system) or community pharmacy. For more information about our curriculum, click here.

Name: Bliss Green
Year: PY2 (Class of 2019)
Rotation: Health System

Where was your immersion located?

UNC Hospital, Cardiac ICU and Central Inpatient Pharmacy/Sterile Products Area

How did you prepare for your immersion experience?

Throughout the second semester of the PY1 year, there will be a few informational meetings that discuss the requirements for various immersion sites and important dates to make sure everyone is on the same page. I reached out to my preceptor about one month before my immersion to introduce myself, ask if he wanted me to have anything prepared for my first day, and set a location/time to meet him. Before my first day of my immersion, I made a trip over to UNC hospital to make sure I knew where to go and to make sure I could connect to the hospital WIFI. I highly recommend this, especially if you are prone to getting lost like me! You don’t want to be late or unprepared on your first day. Besides that, there was not extensive preparation needed before the start of the first immersion.

What was a typical day like?

For the first month of my rotation, I was in the cardiac ICU working with advanced heart failure patients alongside my preceptor, a PGY2 pharmacy resident, and a PY4 pharmacy student. I was assigned patients by my preceptor and followed them throughout their admission (I started with one patient at a time and then worked my way up 3 patients towards the end of the month). A typical day started around 7am. I would look up newly admitted patients on my unit, particularly patients labeled as “high risk for readmission” and perform a medication history assessment. Basically, I would print their list of medications, go find their room, and interview them on which medications they are actually taking and how they are taking them (as well as the last dose). I would then call their pharmacy to confirm fill-dates and make note of any discrepancies. After medication histories, I would open my assigned patient’s medical records on EPIC (UNC’s electronic health record database) and analyze any changes in labs, vitals, medications, notes from physicians, etc. from the night before. Based on this data, I would begin writing my SOAP note that included my assessment of the patient’s status and my proposed plan for each problem. I would then attend rounds with the entire medical team. This is where I could hear the discussion about my patients and make any medicine recommendations to the team. After lunch, I would present my note/findings to my preceptor and we would have a discussion/mini-lecture on the medications involved. The end of my day usually consisted of independent research assigned to me by my preceptor to support our discussion and my recommendations, updating my patient’s notes in EPIC, and discharge counseling in the cases where my assigned patient was ready to go home. I was usually finished around 4:30pm. Some days I also attended journal club, medication safety meetings, transplant discussion meeting, and lectures/discussions with other students/preceptors. I also spent one day with a nurse to witness their role and how they administer the medications. Lastly, I was lucky enough to shadow two serious operations.

What did you like about your rotation?

I liked everything about my rotation! Especially my clinical month in the cardiac ICU. Everything became so real when I stepped foot into the unit. I was challenged on a daily basis and never stopped learning. My preceptor was a phenomenal teacher and a true role model as a pharmacist/professional. I loved seeing how valued and respected he was as the medication expert on the healthcare team. The experience truly motivated me and made me excited about my career path.

What part of your immersion was most surprising and/or interesting to you?

I was able to shadow two open-heart surgeries during my clinical month in the cardiac ICU, which is something I will never forget. I witnessed the insertion of a Left-Ventricular Assist Device (LVAD) into a patient’s heart, as well as a complete sternotomy and aortic dissection. This was the first time I have ever seen a beating heart, working lungs, etc. It was amazing to see what the human body can endure and the advantages that science permits.

What was the most challenging part of your rotation?

The most challenging part of my rotation was the emotional aspect of working with advanced heart failure and the poor health status of patients in my unit . It was difficult to see how sick these patients were and accept the fact that most patients with this stage of the disease do not have good outcomes. I witnessed death and heartbroken families multiple times. It is easy to let your emotions bring you down in this type of setting but you have to remain optimistic and provide the best patient care possible.

Is there anything else you want to share about your immersion experience?

I also spent one month in the central inpatient pharmacy and the sterile products area at UNC hospital. This allowed me to see more of the “operations” side of heath system pharmacy. Within this month, I also spent five days exploring five other types of pharmacy (investigational drugs, pediatrics, specialty pharmacy, special formulations/compounding, and operating room pharmacy). It was a great experience and very beneficial to explore various different aspects of pharmacy. I was offered a job in the IV room/sterile products area after my rotation and am currently working there now!

My Immersion Experience: Ashlyn Norris

Students have their first immersion (pharmacy rotation) the summer after their PY1 year. They are placed in either a hospital (health system) or community pharmacy. For more information about our curriculum, click here.

Name: Ashlyn Norris
Year: PY2 (Class of 2019)
Rotation: Community

Where was your immersion located?

Morrisville, NC: Morrisville Pharmacy and Compounding

How did you prepare for your immersion experience?

There was not too much to do to prepare for the community rotation prior to my first day. Once I started I had to go through all of the trainings for the computer systems and medication review systems that the pharmacy used. I also had to familiarize myself with all of the OTC medications that were available and where to find them in the store as patients came in with questions or requesting certain medications.

What was a typical day like?

A typical day at the pharmacy as a Student Intern started off by checking the fax machine for prescriptions, refill request, D/C orders, hospital discharge summaries, etc. I would then enter and process the prescriptions and refill requests and give them to the technicians to fill. I would then update patients profiles with any medication changes and upload any labs or discharge papers. After all of the paper work was taken care of I would work on conducting Complete Medication Reviews for the pharmacy’s patients. This involved comparing the fill history for a patient to a new discharge summary or medication list from their provider. I would then call the patients and providers and go over any medication concerns or discrepancies that I found and update their profile with our conclusions. Throughout the day I would also answer the phone and speak to any patient that had questions.

What did you like about your rotation?

I had a lot of freedom to initiate projects as I saw fit in the pharmacy, which I really enjoyed. I was able to completely renovate the Pharmacy’s OTC selection and reorganize them based on their specific patients needs. The pharmacy served many diabetic patients so I was able to reorganize their diabetic supply area to make it easier to see what was there and what needed to be ordered, while also making it easier for technicians who may not be as familiar with the supplies able to find what they needed. I was also able to create a How to Store Insulin sheet to give to patients and caregivers on the proper storage technique for all of their different types of insulin.

New curriculum first impressions

You may have heard that we launched a new curriculum this past fall semester. Check out this link to learn more about what makes it unique. Current PY1 student, Melanie Ayarza-Rodriguez, wanted to share some of her first impressions from the fall semester and the new curriculum.

“The new pharmacy curriculum started with the bridging course. The bridging course was mostly review, and an introduction to the important concepts we would need to know for the courses to come in the fall semester. It covered the “basics”: organic chemistry, biostatistics, math, biochemistry, and biology. It was pretty much every hard prerequisite class we took to get into pharmacy school, all in a month’s time. It was so helpful, especially for students who had been out of their groove for a while and had taken a break from school. The review course helped us ease into our fall courses and gave us a preview of what a typical day would be like at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy. Every day, class was held in Kerr 1001 (in Chapel Hill) and Karpen 106 (in Asheville), and free coffee is available 24 hours a day. 🙂

Then came the fall semester, where we had seven completely new classes all about diseases, medications, immunizations, and so much more! Not only did we have all these new classes, we also had 15 student organizations trying to recruit us to be a part of their circle. Immunization class was fun! If you were wondering, yes, we did give our classmates shots (just two), as it is required in order to pass the class.  The two classes we had to put in a lot of hard work for were Molecular Foundations of Drug Action and Pathophysiology of Human Disease. You get exposed to so many different topics and it all comes at you so fast, but the professors are there to help; everyone here wants to see you to succeed.

As long as you keep up with all your work and manage your time, you could participate in organizations like the Recruitment Ambassadors 🙂 or Carolina Association of Pharmacy Students (CAPS). CAPS is the largest student organization at the school. There are also professional fraternities, which focus on professional development, and other organizations that focus on community service and different areas of the pharmacy profession.

We are only a few weeks into the spring semester, but in every new class we are continuing to build on top of what we learned in the fall. We’re learning a lot about patient safety and care! School is challenging, but in a good way. The curriculum is training students to be innovative and go above and beyond to improve the health care system, and that encourages us to think outside the box and challenge ourselves.”


Global initiatives

We’re going global! Over the past year, a number of global initiatives have been developed at the School. In March 2015, the School entered into partnership with University College London, England and Monash University in Melbourne, Australia to form the PharmAlliance. All three Schools are leaders in pharmacy, and will work together to “inspire and train tomorrow’s professional leaders and practitioners to transform education delivery and address major research challenges in pharmacy and the pharmaceutical sciences.”

In addition, PharmD students have the opportunity to pursue an international rotation during their PY4 advanced pharmacy practice experiences (APPEs). We have eight programs established across five continents, and new programs are in the pipeline, and will be introduced in the coming years. For more information about the international rotation experiences, visit this page.

Student Perspective: OSCE

A blog post from Carrie Martin, Class of 2016.

Today, I had my first Objectively Structured Clinical Examination, otherwise known as OSCE. This is a comprehensive assessment of skills learned throughout the fall. This semester we focused on dermatology, diabetes, women’s health, and pulmonary, which coincided with our pharmacotherapy class topics. The OSCE is conducted by standardized patients who act out five different cases, as they would be presented to you in the pharmacy. We were given nine minutes to counsel on many different drugs and special application techniques. After the time was up, the standardized patients were able to give you specific feedback. Students are evaluated on their clinical skill/knowledge and their relationship and communication skills. While the class was somewhat nervous not knowing what to expect, everyone really enjoyed the “real-life” simulated experience. The OSCE was a great opportunity to gain confidence in my clinical knowledge and to reinforce my communication skills. Practice makes perfect!

Student Perspective: A Unique Perspective – what major is right for you?

A blog post from J. Carrington, Class of 2016.

Many prospective students want to know what they should study in their undergraduate course work to prepare for pharmacy school. You may be wondering, “Will my future pharmacy school only consider me if I was a biology or chemistry major? Do I have to declare “Pre-Pharmacy”? Should I even get a bachelors degree?”

Here is my story and humble opinion on the matter.

As a senior in high school thinking about my future career in pharmacy, the first step was deciding what I want my major to be. I was a 4-H agriculture program kid, horse enthusiast and knew I was going to Virginia Tech – a wonderful university with a great agriculture school in Virginia.

Upon my acceptance to Virginia Tech, I considered pharmacy as a career path due to my love of science and desire to help people. The conflict was what to study. My dream major was Animal and Poultry Science, a degree in the College of Agriculture and Life Science that focused in animal production and science. I was sold on this major ever since going to Virginia Tech for youth horse judging and 4-H events.

Upon evaluating the Animal and Poultry Science curriculum further, I saw that the course work required for this degree matched very well to what is expected for pharmacy school. It also had courses focusing on practical hands-on skills and the opportunity for research projects. I customized my curriculum to be great balance of my passion for agriculture and rigorous science based classes. I took the normal Organic Chemistry and biochemistry, but I also got to take Animal Breeding and Genetics, Physiology of Reproduction and Embryology. I also got to take fun classes like Livestock Marketing along with Equine Biomechanics and Horse Production. All of these classes together gave me a unique perspective and was a great conversation starter at interviews.

Most majors will cover the core requirements needed for acceptance in pharmacy school and are flexible enough to allow you to take extra courses that may be needed like Organic Chemistry or Human Anatomy and Physiology. I loved every minute at Virginia Tech and truly got to study something that I love. The background and unique perspective I gained as an Animal Science student helped me in pharmacy school.

The number one goal: Study something you love! Don’t worry if it isn’t biochemistry or medical science. If you enjoy it do it! I have many classmates with degrees in Art, History, and even foreign languages. They are all in pharmacy school and successful in the rigorous coursework. My advice is to enjoy your undergraduate experience regardless of what you study or if you get a degree. The memories you make in your undergraduate career last a lifetime. Get a good science foundation but don’t forget to take something completely different because you never know the experiences it will give you!

Curriculum 2015

Have you had a chance to explore our curriculum? We just launched a new curriculum this fall. Head over to our website to learn about the changes we’re making, and how we’re innovating pharmacy education.

Some highlights:

-Early, continual immersion in patient care
-Higher level critical thinking, reflection, and problem solving development
-More hands-on pharmacy innovation and real-world problem solving
-Flipped classroom and active learning

Explore our website to learn more!