Friday, June 27, 2008

Summer Pharmacy Internship-Day 4

Today marked the end of a looooong first week back to work. I woke up to my alarm, still drowsy from my deep sleep, and soon realized that my lower back was sore and thighs very painful with every step. "Great! That's what I get for trying to be healthy," I was thinking to myself.

I was hoping for another easy day at work while driving in the lighter-than-normal LA traffic. I wish I was one of those lucky enough to be warm and cozy in bed on this Friday morning. Unfortunately, work started right away, even though I got in about 15 minutes earlier than my scheduled time (9am), and continued on non-stopped until lunch, which was close to 2 pm. I was completely out of fuel and in exhaustion by then, but had resume work after about twenty minutes later. My work day did no end until twenty minutes after six, by which time, I could barely walk without causing pain to my body, from the waist down.

I'm so glad tomorrow is Saturday and I will get to recharge for the next two days! Phew! What a week!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Summer Pharmacy Internship-Day 3

Today was another easy day at the pharmacy with many of opportunities to counsel. I felt so inadequate during counseling, but thankfully, my sister was available to help with the things I didn't know. I also had a chance to look up some information before talking to patients because it was not very busy and we were over-staffed. I learned about another medicine the OBGYN uses to stop contraction, nifedipine. Nifedipine is normally used for chest pain but it's interesting how it can be used to help prevent premature birth. I can't wait to learn more about the different classes of prescription drugs over the next three years in pharmacy school.

My other duties at the pharmacy today included creating a promotional letter and coupon for my sister and brother-in-law's newly acquired pharmacy, typing prescriptions, helping a senior call for her ride (multiple times and over an hour before they actually came to pick her up), ringing up purchases and answering the phone. Since business was slow and there were enough staff members at the pharmacy, I decided to take off early to go for a jog. The jog through LA fog was depressing but I was glad to get some much needed exercise.

Road Trip: June 2008

Four days after finals, my husband and I finished packing up my worldly possessions from my apartment and moved them to the Phi Delta Chi house, where I will be living starting in the fall, for storage. Packing and moving was a pain but we were happy to get the moving done (thanks to the help of a day laborer we hired at the U-Haul vehicle pick-up station)!

Our 11-year-old purple convertible Toyota Celica took us more than 1000 miles in less than one week: from San Francisco to Klamath Falls, Oregon, then back to Los Angeles. Our major destinations of interest were Lava Beds National Monument and Lassen Volcanic National Park, with the former being a disappointment and the latter a pleasant surprise. It was interesting learning about the different types of lava rocks and formations and how the lava caves were formed. However, being a person with little curiosity about caves, entering one was enough for me even though there were more than ten lava caves developed for visitors to explore. The Petroglyph Point was the only highlight of Lava Beds National Monument, where we learned about the ancient size of Tule Lake and history of the rock art and the Modoc War.

Lassen Volcanic National Park was a true delight. Its lush green pine forests, snow-capped mountains, serene crystal blue frozen lakes and geothermal features filled my eyes with wonder. In a way, it is a combination of Yosemite and Yellowstone without the summer crowd. I was surprised that there were waterfalls in the park because I had imagined it to look like the planet Venus from the description written in the Lonely Planet.

We drove through most of the park and hiked through three miles of the snowy Bumpass Hell Trail to see geothermal features. The steam vents, fumeroles, mud pots and boiling pools were not as impressive as those in Yellowstone, but the trek was quite fun with lots of slipping and sliding in the hilly and snowy paths. The views of the snow-capped mountains were also breath-taking. Our hike was delayed twice for trail maintenance by the California Civilian Corps, composed of mostly young men and women, who worked hard to make our paths safer.

The road trip was such a good way to relax after one of the most stressful final examination week of my life. It was nice to just soak in the fresh air of nature during the day and come back to a clean hotel room for a refreshing shower at night before going out for dinner.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Summer Pharmacy Internship-Day 2

Another 8 hours of standing at the pharmacy and I was exhausted after work. Today was another relatively easy day at the pharmacy with no long lines or angry customers. Like yesterday, I also had a chance to do a lot of counseling, with the guidance of another pharmacist sister of mine (the boss was off to take care of other duties today). I was proud to remember most of the counseling points on the use of an asthma inhaler during one of the counseling sessions. The patient, a teenage girl, seemed to be able to understand my instructions. With more time, the session would have been better if she could show me how to use the inhaler. As usual, I did a lot of counseling on antibiotics and remembered to emphasize their proper use to prevent resistance. Using my very broken Vietnamese, I explained to a young couple that the dexamethasone injection was used to stimulate fetal lung development because the doctor thought there was a chance of premature labor. Dexamethasone is a corticosteroid normally used to treat other conditions, such as arthritis, asthma, severe allergies and cancer. It's interesting how it can also be used for fetal lung development. The doctor who prescribes this medication, an OBGYN who specializes in high-risk pregnancies, also uses many unconventional drugs to stop contractions.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Summer Pharmacy Internship-Day 1

I've been back to work for two days now, but today was my first "real" day as a pharmacy intern. I was just goofing around, soaking in the work flow and getting myself reoriented with the computer system yesterday. Today went by really quickly with no major "rushes." The pace of work was pretty steady throughout the day, which was pretty untypical for most pharmacies. I'm glad that I didn't have to work through any angry/very anxious patient of a long line.

My sister, the main pharmacist and owner, had a lot of confidence in me. She allowed me to pretty much counsel patients on most of the medications and showed me where to look for more information when I needed them. However, when the patient was standing in front of me and there were other people waiting around for me to help them, it was pretty hard to read up quickly and have enough confidence to counsel on the drug if I didn't already have prior knowledge. I did my best at what I knew how to counsel and found it easier to just ask her about the unfamiliar prescriptions and had her answer questions that I did not feel confident in addressing.

Through counseling, I was able to put my "Emergency Contraception Training" to work, pull up some basic knowledge on heartburn medicines to answer the patient's questions, explain to parents how to give antibiotic suspensions to their children with the proper storage information, learn how to communicate with patients with limited spoken language skills through writing and body language. I didn't feel totally comfortable in my consultation role but figured I had, in general, made a positive impact in projecting the image of pharmacists as friendly community resources.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Hardest Final-DONE!

I felt so light this morning after finishing the pharm chem exam. I am SO glad I was able to study for it despite having woken up feeling really spiritless and crappy yesterday morning. Stress from finals really hit me hard this time I just freaked out yesterday afternoon when I felt I didn't have the needed energy to make it through studying for pharm chem! After staring at the syllabus for about 20 minutes and a few sneezes, I decided that I really needed to take care of my body. Luckily, after a stinky bowl of Chinese herbal decoction (my apartment is still smelling like a Chinatown herbal shop today from the cooking of it) and about an hour of nap time, I was able to squeeze in about six hours of productive studying. Although I couldn't calm worries (and didn't sleep well as a result), I was able to provide answers to all question and think I did at least well enough to get a B in the class. I would be SO happy if I got an A though. I'm normally not obsessed over grades but for some reason, getting an A in pharm chem was one of my goals for this quarter. It's so lame. I know!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Nerves, Crazy Nerves!

The anatomy exam is in an hour and I'm extremely shaky! Those damn nerves! For some reason, I'm letting them take over my body again. I need to take a deep breath and know that I will be okay regardless of the exam score. After all, I only need less than 50% to pass the class! How I wish we don't have letter grades like the medical students!

Friday, June 6, 2008

Public Speaking

After three presentations in front of my classmates, I am really convinced that I need a lot more practice in public speaking. I don't mind presenting information in front of a big group but I don't know why I get so nervous at times. I wish I could control my emotions in ALL of my presentations and not let my nerves get the most out of me. Unfortunately, I sometimes tend to get really shaky and trip over my words or start babbling and make a total fool of myself.

Oh well...I just have to conquer my fears and speak up more in front of big groups. I wonder if there's a class that I can take to improve on my public speaking skills.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Results: OTC/Herbal Patient Counseling Competition

I was thrilled to find out that Hilary and I won second place for the OTC/Herbal Patient Counseling Competition. It felt really good to know that we had done well given my nervousness at the time. It's a confirmation that I have at least learned something during the crazy spring quarter of the first year in pharmacy school and actually retained it well enough to counsel a patient. I'm looking forward to this summer's internship at my sister's pharmacy, when she will let me do a lot of patient counseling. It will be a good break from studying. I'm ready to put the books aside and do some hands-on learning...while making money and spending time with my family (my mom also works there!).


My time has been occupied mostly by things other than studying these days. I don't feel the urgency to cram even though there are five finals to take next week and I haven't really touched my books since the midterms. What happened to the "eager-to-learn" me? I have no more energy and can't wait till Friday of next week! Sigh.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Integrative Medicine Forum

After months of hard work and planning, the one-day Integrative Medicine Forum was a huge success with a turnout of close to 300 participants. Attendees ranged from UCSF students to members of the different communities within San Francisco. As one of the organizers of the forum, I was very busy trying to make sure that everything was going well, especially with breakfast and lunch. By the time I took care of all the meal-related stuff, I was too tired to participate in any workshops or lecture. Therefore, I went through the whole day of the forum without learning anything from the speakers.

From the feedbacks of my classmates and the written evaluations, I found out that Dean Ornish was very inspirational and many of the workshops were interesting. Despite the limited vegetarian option and lack of choices for lunch, people who had suggestions for improvement in food expressed great satisfaction with the quality of the forum. Many commented on the great level organization and comprehensive selection of speakers.

Being part of the planning committee, which was composed mainly of first-year medical students, involved a lot of time and energy. We started to meet and plan since January, in order to get speakers and food donations. I never imagined myself to be someone who would ask businesses for donations; I took over the position unwillingly, but learned a lot from doing it. I wish I had more control of the lunch situation.

I don't know how event planners do it, but it takes so much time and organization to put a big event together. I probably will never take up event planning as my job. It's so stressful!