Student Perspective: NCAP

A blog post from Rebecca Call, Class of 2016.

On October 21st, I attended the North Carolina Association of Pharmacists’ (NCAP) Annual Convention in Raleigh, NC. As a third year pharmacy student, I was interested to attend the conference in order to hear more about the recent changes in legislation concerning pharmacists giving vaccinations and also visit the residency showcase.

North Carolina is one of several states in which certified pharmacists can give immunizations, specifically the influenza, herpes zoster (shingles) and pneumococcal vaccines to patients over 18 years old. However, I kept hearing that the law would soon be expanded. This year, the law did change and, as was announced at the convention, pharmacists can now give hepatitis B, meningococcal and tetanus/diphtheria/pertussis (TD, Tdap) vaccines to patients over 18. In addition to this, the age restriction for flu shots was lowered to 14 years old. I believe that vaccines are critical to public health and am glad that pharmacists can play a larger role in preventing these life-altering diseases.

While much of the morning of NCAP was spent on presentations, the afternoon featured the residency showcase. Residencies are one- or two-year programs that are completed after obtaining a PharmD degree. Students typically apply for them during their fourth year in pharmacy school in order to develop and specialize their clinical skills.

As a third year student, I wanted to visit the different booths in order to find out about areas that might interest me and local programs to keep in mind for next year. Pharmacy is a very tight knit community, so I was able to say hello to several professors at the various UNC Pharmacy residency tables and also see friends who had graduated and were now completing their first or second residency year. It was inspiring to see people whom I remembered stressing about their residency choices a few years ago now at booths promoting their programs and discussing projects they had completed.

I think conventions are a great way to learn more about the wider world of pharmacy as a student. The NCAP annual convention gave me a chance to keep up to date on current legislation changes in North Carolina as well as learn more about potential options for me after I graduate. The NCAP conference is especially convenient because it is often close to Chapel Hill and covers issues important to pharmacists locally. In short, I would highly recommend it to new students wanting to know more about pharmacy in North Carolina.

Student Perspective: Comfortable Wearing the White Coat

A blog post from Rashmi Patel, Class of 2016.

It felt like it was just yesterday when I was a sophomore in college volunteering as a student at the Kerr Drug booth at the NC State Fair. It was the first time I had really sought out a volunteer opportunity related to pharmacy so I still wasn’t exactly sure of all the things that a pharmacist was capable of. I just remember being in awe of the young pharmacist I was working with in her crispy white UNC coat, thinking to myself of what I had to do to get there. I would have never guessed that four years later, I would soon be the girl behind the table introducing myself to patients as a second year pharmacy student at UNC. The funny thing is, I had just as many questions as a pharmacy student two days ago, as I did four years ago.

I realize now that just because the years go by and you get older, you may be getting a little wiser, but you will never know all the answers. Even though I had been certified to give immunizations didn’t mean that I was an expert at it. I still made a few mistakes and had instances when my vaccine dripped out of the syringe instead of being injected into the person or frantically tried to get the sticky band-aid off of my oversized gloves and onto the person. My time volunteering at the NC State Fair giving flu shots really helped me be more comfortable wearing the white coat and not just making mistakes, but owning up to them and fixing them.

At the end of my shift, I had vaccinated 29 people and actually felt like I was growing as a professional in pharmacy and giving back to my community. It felt great having people say, ‘she’s really good!’ or patting my back and thanking me when really I should be thanking them for letting me poke them with a needle! I thought back at the time when I thought pharmacists just drank coffee and counted by 5’s… I obviously didn’t know anything! Pharmacists are the friendly neighbors in the community where they are trusted by so many everyday; and every year people come back to the fair specifically to get their flu shots from us.