Wednesday, January 30, 2008

A Lot of Chemistry

It seems like most of what we learn this quarter is mostly chemistry. We are finishing up physical chemistry (thank goodness!), studying advanced organic chemistry (which isn't that ADVANCED if you have a good basis in undergraduate ochem) and biochemistry (I love that class!).

I can't wait till Feb 21, when I finish my pchem final exam! For six weeks this quarter, we are focusing on kinetics, rather than thermodynamics (last quarter). I see SOME relevance of kinetics to the pharmacy program, but it's probably not going to help me in my future career as a pharmacist. I think I will take one of my classmate's suggestion and burn my torn pchem book during the bonfire with my fraternity pledge class the weekend after the exam! I know I can save it for my mentee next year, but I think it will be really satisfying to see it go up in flames....I don't know...I'll keep that thought in mind for now and decide later. I still have plenty of time. Oh, I just realized that I have not opened that book even ONCE this quarter, and probably won't do so in the next three weeks. Therefore, I won't be surprised if I didn't get a reasonable grade for the test I just took this Monday and the final I will take in about four weeks . I think I will pass the class though. And that's good enough for me!

We just had a 2-hour ochem test today and it was 15 pages long! Even though I didn't really start studying for it until two days ago, I think I passed it with at least a C. Aiming low can alleviate so much stress and add to the quality of life as a student (that is, if we still have a life outside of school!). In general, the ochem class is mostly review with a little bit of new info and some applications to drugs. I am so glad I just took ochem last year and read the chapter about acid/base chemistry in Klein's "Organic Chemistry As a Second Language" over the winter break. I don't know how I would have survived without that book in the undergraduate ochem class.

Biochemistry is my favorite class this quarter! Our instructor is a fairly young and well-dressed professor who is really organized, thorough, and clear in her lectures. We are focusing on human metabolism and it's really interesting to learn how the body uses food sources as energy and store them for future use. There are many details to remember, such as the names of regulatory enzymes and intermediates in different pathways (glycolysis, beta oxidation, citric acid cycle, etc), but I don't really mind them. I know I will forget them in the future but it's cool to learn about all those details anyway. Hopefully, by the end of this class, I will have a solid foundation to help me understand the pathophysiology of different metabolic diseases. It seems like studying for biochem is all I want to do nowadays! I know I should put it off for now and focus on anatomy, though. The midterm is a few days away and I haven't even studied for the class!

I did it!

After studying super hard for the pharmaceutical calculations quiz over the break and the weekend before the quiz, I aced it with a perfect score! First of all, I am proud to know that I still have those mathematical skills...after A LOT of practice...but I still have them! Second of all, I am so thankful to pass it after the first try because I don't have to study for it again, until a week later (for the midterm). I wrote my introductory chemistry teacher and thanked her for being such a great instructor. The quiz was easier to complete with the dimensional analysis skills she had taught me about 21/2 years ago!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Medication Compliance

I've been sick most of the time since the beginning of the quarter: sneezes, headaches, body aches, post-nasal drips, and coughs. As a result, I haven't been able to study much and spent most of the time in bed. I've been to the student health services twice to get help from the doctor and to get prescription drugs for my illnesses. After a lengthy discussion with the nurse practitioner, I realized that the persistent symptoms of nasal allergies result partly from my noncomplianced to medical regimens.

In order to become a pharmacist who promotes medication compliance, I think I have to convince myself to do that first. I was told by previous doctors and my pharmacist-sisters to be consistent with the use of Nasonex and antihistamines so I wouldn't get major allergic attacks and persistent coughs. However, thinking that I didn't have to rely on medicines to do the job, I used alternative means to strengthen my body: Chinese tonic soups, herbs, and cupping. In short, I don't like taking western medicines.

So far, I have failed to "strengthen" my body enough to get rid of allergies, leading to painful coughs and chest tightness. My stubbornness has resulted in the reliance on the use of another medicine, an inhaler for asthma, Maxair Autoinhaler (bronchodilator). The NP said that allergies have triggered a mild asthmatic reaction and that using this drug will also help my cough. My resolution: continuing to take Zyrtec (antihistamine) for as long as I need it, take cough syrup QHS PRN, and use the inhaler when I feel tightness in my chest. I hope these drugs will do the trick. Otherwise, I will not only miss out on learning in classes, but also shadowing a heart/lung transplant pharmacist and participating in other professional activities.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Mr. Pharmacy

I am so behind with work right now but I found myself wanting to write...and who can turn down the urge to write?

I just attended the most amazing "pageant" in the history of pharmacy school: UCSF's Mr. Pharmacy 2008! So much talent and fun were present that it inspired me to take over 500 pictures of the contestants and audience during the event. Prior to the show, I did not have much expectation and went primarily to support our class's fund-raiser for graduation. However, although I was preoccupied by picture-taking, I enjoyed seeing the amazing talents exhibited by all these men and people involved who made the show such a success. Despite the hectic schedules, they made an effort to to organize the event and prepare for the acts. Student pharmacists at UCSF are truly phenomenal! I really mean it. What an honor to be learning among these people.

Walter Valdez, the runner-up, sent the crowd on a wild roar when he related his favorite childhood story, in which he peed on his pants in class and was eventually saved by his best friend from embarrassment with the throwing of a wet paper towel accompanying with the words: "We were fighting with wet paper towel." I never knew he was such a great story-teller. That was one of my favorite acts of the show.

Of course another popular performance, which also had the crowd rolling with thunderous laughter, was the song "P-Chem Blues," by the winner, Trevor Oelrich. He was not only a great singer and writer, but could also accompany his singing by playing two musical instruments: the harmonica and guitar. The best part was that student pharmacists in the crowd could relate to his lyrics about the first-year course, which was the cause of many nightmares of delta G and partial derivatives.

The turnout was awesome and the crowd extremely enthusiastic. I think the event raised a tremendous amount of money for our class, thanks to Krystal Pong's initiation and the help from many of our classmates. Some people were lucky enough to win prizes donated by several local businesses. However, the biggest sponsor of the night was Wal-mart Pharmacy, who's representative was also a judge for the competion, donated money for the winners' classes and Marnee Thai's dinner for all attendees, as well as giving away 3 ipod shuffles.

It was a night filled with laughter...and now...back to reality: trying to catch up with piles of school work and reading! sigh.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008


I had the nicest lunch hour today in the student lounge with a group of classmates. As usual, I went up there to heat up the noodles that I had made for lunch, for two days in a row, not really expecting to enjoy the food nor to find any company there. To the contrary, I was pleasantly surprised and greeted by a diverse group of classmates that I am extremely fond of for their down-to-earth attitude and genuine personalities.

We made small talks about various topics which included food from different cultures, the weather, among other things. However, my favorite part of our conversations was hearing the stories two classmates shared about disciplining and the comments about what damage females can cause with their fighting strategies (hair-pulling, scratching with their long finger nails, cracking skulls with their pointy high heels, and intimidating with their postures and facial expressions).

I had the most unexpected fun in a long while in that one hour shared with my classmates at the cost of not writing up the shadowing reflection for my IPPE experience. I figured that in the end, the one hour spent with them will be more pleasantly imprinted in my memory than most experiences in pharmacy school, which is composed of sitting in classes, studying endlessly in order to catch up with lectures and exams, trying to squeeze more activities into the limited "available" schedule, reading junk emails, and responding to numerous deadlines.

An added bonus to experience was the mixture of the crowd. I have been bothered by the fact that most of my classmates, myself included (sadly), form small groups of the same ethnic make-up to hang for lunch and other events. Since this group was composed of almost every ethnicities represented by the class, I was enlightened by stories from various cultures and different perspectives from the group members.

Although having a hectic pace is an inevitable part of pharmacy school, I believe there is nothing more important in life than a little spontaneity. It adds a little twist to my mundane existence and richness to my experience as a student pharmacist. It's important to achieve goals, however, it is also important to enjoy life at the same time. Who knows when I'm going to take my last breath? Therefore, I need to soak in life and enjoy my existence while l am still able.