Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Cadaver Face

For our Anatomy 116 class, we've been working in lab with the cadavers all quarter long and I hadn't really had any frightening episodes like I dreaded I would have...until today. We're working on the muscles, nerves and features on the neck and face and I freaked out when I accidentally flipped over the hemi-sected face while looking at it by myself. I can still imagine the facial hair and eyes and couldn't stop thinking about it while I was talking to someone over dinner. I kept seeing the hemi-sected face superimposed on the face of the person I was talking to. It was scary even thinking about it, but I couldn't help it. I hope I won't have nightmares tonight! I am glad we didn't have to look at the face until this late into the quarter. I don't know how I would have survived this quarter living by myself if we had to do that since the beginning of the quarter.

Sunday, May 25, 2008


In the bioinformatics course (BPS114), I get to revisit the NCBI website introduced to me by my bio professor at Pasadena City College. He made us do a genetics project using BLAST, a database within the NCBI website that allows you to search for homologs using a gene sequence. At the time, I hated having to complete the project and was happy to get it over with. Little did I know that I would be doing a lot more genetic research using the same website here at UCSF. It really amazes me how many genes we have sequenced and mapped but I'm really glad that I'm not involved with those projects. They seem so tedious! We even have complete a group project that's worth 30% of our lab grade using those gene databases! I'm so not looking forward to doing it. It's a good thing that we at least got to pick our team members.

Well, I'm studying for the second midterm in this class and not much is getting into my head. I keep on wanting to practice multi-step metabolic reactions for pharmaceutical chemistry instead. However, I managed to find something interesting from studying BPS 114 today: the PubChem database from NCBI! It's really a cool website where we can type in the names of drugs and find structural, chemical and other information for them. It also has a link to PubMed articles using the MeSH tree (a controlled vocabulary to help us refine search) as a search strategy. Through PubChem, I found a link to DailyMed, an NIH website with free information on all FDA-approved drugs. I think that site will become my good friends throughout my years here at UCSF and career as a pharmacist.

Friday, May 23, 2008

OTC/Herbal Patient Counseling Competition

For the first time since I started school at UCSF, I participated in the School of Pharmacy's one of many competitions today. My main motivation for becoming part of the OTC/Herbal Patient Counseling Competition was to show support (since very few of my classmates had expressed any interest). I also wanted to get some hands-on experience in what a therapeutic oral exam would be like, in preparation for next spring quarter's toughest class.

As someone not really living for the "thrill" of competing and inexperienced in working under time constraints, I got really nervous thinking about it last night. Although I regretted signing up for the competition and thought about quitting several times throughout the course of last night and this morning, I decided to bite the bullet for thirty minutes and risked making a fool of myself in front of a panel of judges, composed of two faculty members that I highly respect for their works in herbal medicine (Dr. Cathi Dennehy & Dr. Candy Tsourounis), Dr. William Soller and Chris Nguyen (a UCSF-graduated pharmacist).

With practically no prior preparations, except for our faint OTC knowledge from this year's courses, my partner (Hilary) and I had 15 minutes to read and prepare for our presentations. We were given a case, which contained symptoms of two self-treatable disease states and the patient's information. Hilary SOAPed out the disease state for more thorough presentation while I was responsible for a quick counseling on the simpler disease state. Basically, healthcare professionals use the SOAP sheet as a standardized way to communicate with each other. It contains the patient's subjective and objective information, the pharmacist's assessments of the problem and plans to solve it.

It seemed like we just walked in the preparation room with the case when the five-minute warning was given. We barely had time to read the case and quickly jot down some essential information from memory and the few facts we could look up with the references provided. We were given ten minutes total for the presentations. While Hilary presented the case as if she was sharing the information with other healthcare professionals, I had a little time to mentally organize and strategize my speech. I thought Hilary did an excellent job and was glad that she agreed to take the more involved part.

When she was done, I talked to the judges as if they were my patient. I think I remembered to convey most of the essential information, such as the cause of the problem, the name and class of medication used to treat the condition, desired outcomes, directions for usage, possible side effects, storage information, etc. I think I spoke rather quickly because I couldn't calm my nerves.

I don't think we used up the alloted time, but feel that we did well in general. It would have been better had I not been so nervous, though. Hilary and I both felt that we made a good team. She complimented me on my empathy for the patient.

There was a total of five teams, 2 first-year teams and 3 second-year teams and the top 3 will be rewarded with gift cards (courtesy of The Center for Consumer Healthcare, I think). I have no clue whether we will win since we didn't get to listen to the other teams' presentations. Regardless of the results, I'm glad I stuck to what I had set out to do despite my anxieties about competitions and my presentation skills.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

It Takes Only a Few Drops of Black Ink

to stain a beautiful white outfit! I was very sad to hear a medical student say: "What's up with you pharmacy students? I was at a domestic violence conference and some pharmacy students were studying with their flash cards while a panel of speakers were talking about their traumatic experiences!" I was more than mortified to hear that about my fellow student pharmacist and apologized profusely about this inappropriate behavior. I wished I had enough sense then to tell her then that it's the exception and not the rule. Most of my classmates are intelligent, conscientious, warm-hearted individuals who put more than 100% in helping the underserved communities on top of studying. We try so hard to establish ourselves worthy of being included in the decision-making process in the interprofessional healthcare team. Unfortunately, we still have long ways to go..

It's a Spring Thing!

I just finished the 3-week midterm exam marathon, with 2 exams each week! The grades that I have gotten back so far were okay...within the A and B range. There were classes that I wished I had studied more for despite the decent scores. The grades didn't really reflect what I truly did not understand. I have resorted to procrastination and studying "to the test" and not to learn for at least two of them.

I've been having such a hard time focusing these days! There always seem to be better things to do: like running along the coastal trail near Ocean Beach and around Stow Lake in Golden Gate Park; taking, editing & uploading pictures onto Picasa Web Albums ; reading "Eat, Pray, Love" while enjoying a hot bath; watching "Dancing with the Stars;" volunteering for Hep B clinics; etc, etc. Anything but studying. I think I am having too much fun and not doing enough studying!

The funny thing is: I am not the only one slacking off. Many of my classmates are just like me-they can't stay focused on studying. I thought students were the only ones going through this phase, but a professor told me during our conversation yesterday: "I am having a hard time staying indoors these days. It's a spring thing; I just want to get out of my office and be outside. Are you experiencing the 'summer-idus' just like me?"

Well, that says it all. Students are not the only ones anxiously waiting for the arrival of summer!