Thursday, July 31, 2008

Week 5

After a week of intensive searching, we're finally going to have a new delivery employee. I've talked to numerous people on the phone and interviewed about a dozen face-to-face. Through this process, I've also learned to screen out people on the phone and gave interviews to only those who I thought will be satisfied with this low-skilled and low-paying job. It surprised me how many highly qualified people were willing to apply for this position! The economy must be really bad.

It's so hard to find the "perfect" person for the job. I'm going to make a decision on who to hire tomorrow. Hopefully, it will be a good decision so I won't have to go through the interviewing process again!

This week was a pretty bad week for me. I've made numerous mistakes that could have been prevented by simply paying more careful to details. I gave a patient the wrong bottle of antibiotic because of the similarity in medications and names. Luckily, the mistake was caught by the tech before the med left the building. I also made a mistake by giving the patient's significant other another person's medications because they have the same name. Again, I was fortunate to have the patient call to alert us of the mistake and he brought back the medications when picking up the correct ones. I wonder if my boss would have fired me if she wasn't my sister.

It's so dangerous to try doing things too fast. However, the patients give us so much pressure by being really cranky when they wait longer than 10 minutes. Making medical errors is the scariest part about being a pharmacist. Also, it seems like the more I work, the less I think I know. There are so many different medications and I wonder how I will learn them well enough to do a good job at patient counseling.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Summer Pharmacy Internship-Week 4

This week just flew right by without any time for me to learn new things, as far as medications and counseling go. Our pharmacy was short-staffed b/c one of my coworkers was sent to another pharmacy to help trouble shoot and train their employees to use our computer system. Another one was taking two days off to study for exams. Our morning deliverer also stayed home for one day, so I had to fill in for him. In the midst of all these chaos, I had to screen potential employees on the phone, interview them and hopefully be able to find a new deliverer by the end of next week. It was really stressful being pulled from different directions all at once.

Despite all these craziness, I improved on one important aspect of my communication skills: cutting off excessive talkers! One of my weaknesses have always been letting others take control of the conversation, even when I was in the position to take control and really bored by what they had to say. I was afraid that I would hurt their feelings by changing the topics. Being as busy as I was this past week at the pharmacy, I had to be efficient with my time and practiced taking control of the conversation when someone started to talk too much during the interviews.

I'm glad this week was over and I will have a chance to see the Body Worlds 3 Exhibit tomorrow at the California Science Center. I can't wait!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Mariachi Music & Mexican Dinner

On Saturday night, Thomas, his mom & I went to an upscale Mexican restaurant to watch a dinner show by a live band, Mariachi Sol de Mexico. The show started at 7pm but a long line of people was standing outside waiting to be seated by 6pm, when we arrived.

We were one of the first groups to be seated, slightly off-center from the stage and 30 feet away. Occupying the long rows in front of us were three big parties there for birthday celebrations. Looking around, I noticed that we were the only three Asians in the entire room full of about 200 people.

Our waiter, who was very fluent in English promptly took our orders for drinks and came back with them within minutes. We started with a typical but extremely tasty free appetizer of tortilla chips and fresh salsa. The menu included choices of fajitas, enchiladas, tacos, burritos, steak & seafood, all came with a sides of rice & refried pinto beans. We were also one of the first groups to get our dinners. I hungrily devoured my huge fried sea bass and was almost done with my dinner before the lights were dimmed, obscuring the paintings of Frieda Kahlo and Diego Rivera's masterpieces on the walls.

The stage, which was nicely painted with bright green vines and red flowers, were then lit up, revealing the nine uniformed men with Mexican bow ties, three guitarists and two trumpeters in the back row and four young and handsome violinists in the front row. The upbeat music immediately started with one of the young men in the front row singing in Spanish. Although I had no clue what he was singing about, the energetic beat of their Mariachi music was enough to captivate my interest. One by one, the men took turns singing, and playing their instruments when they were not singing. They went on continuously for about thirty minutes.

They took a short break from singing for one song, when they encouraged the ladies from the audience to dance on stage. After that, the main man, who was a trumpeter and singer, made birthday and other announcements in both Spanish & English. The band then went on to sing what seemed to be a traditional Spanish birthday song, followed by the English one. After that, they continued to awe the audience with their amazing voices and music for another half an hour before the show came to an end.

Our bill, which was a little over $100 for two drinks and three entrees, were a little pricey for the quality of the main courses. However, we knew going into the restaurant that we were paying for the entertainment and it was worth every penny. The band was so vibrant and captivating that they took my breath away for the whole hour that they performed. What also amazed me was the cooperation among the different band members in lighting & the switching of positions among singers in that limited stage space that hardly fit nine men and their instruments.

According to reviews that I read on Yelp!, people drive quite a distance to get here to see this band & they have performed at the Hollywood Bowl and the Academy Awards. They are practically right in our backyard (a few blocks away from where I currently live), and it took us until now to discover it!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Highlights of Year 1

  1. Making amazing friends: Becky Snyder, DeAnna Sosnowchik, Michelle Tadano, Pei Yu Lee, PDC brothers, to name a few.
  2. Placing second in the OTC/Herbal Patient Counseling Competition with Hilary Campbell.
  3. Working for Synapse (UCSF's student newspaper) as a staff writer & photographer.
  4. Wine-tasting during the Spring Retreat in Napa Valley with four generations of PDC brothers.
  5. Collaborating with medical and nursing students to organize UCSF's 10th Annual Integrative Medicine Forum.
  6. Learning to take better pictures by being the "un"official photographer for the School of Pharmacy.
  7. Jogging/strolling along the Coastal/Lands End trail with the wonderful views of the Golden Gate Bridge alone and with friends: Lynn Chen, Karoline Tum & Thomas.
  8. Enjoying heavenly coffee and almond croissants from La Boulange Cafe in Cole Valley, a few blocks from my apartment.
  9. Getting to know faculty members through social/extracurricular functions: Conan MacDougal & Christy Robinson, Lorie Rice, Dean Mary Anne Koda-Kimble, Mike Winter, Dr. Shetlar, Dr. Shafer, Sharon Youmans, Bob Day, Robin Coreli, Marilyn Stebbins, etc.
  10. Hearing Dean Mary Anne Koda-Kimble's charismatic & animated speeches at the new student orientation and the White Coat Ceremony.
  11. Witnessing amazing talents from fellow students: Skit Night, Mr. Pharmacy, Cultural Mosaic Show.
  12. Providing free/subsidized services to the underserved while volunteering for the Hep B Clinics and Partners in D outreach events.
  13. Getting over the fear of giving injections and gaining confidence in phlebotemy.
  14. Being well-trained in insulin injection & the use of asthma inhalers.
  15. Shadowing a clinical pharmacist, Lenny Chen, at Ocean Park Health Clinic in the Outer Sunset.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Summer Pharmacy Internship-Week 3

Today was a crazy day with many insurance and other problems that I couldn't solve. The work was backed up and I kept forgetting to get the medications done for patients in a timely manner. Although working in the front was more stressful compared to filling medications behind the counter, I feel that I've learned a lot by answering patients' questions, counseling them and typing some prescriptions. I learned quite a few things about medication therapy today. The most interesting was the following:
  • H. pylori Triple Therapy- A patient with bacterial infection by H. pylori came in the pharmacy with the following prescriptions: Amoxicillin 1g, lansoprazole 30mg & clarithromycin 500mg twice a day for 14 days.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Magic Mouthwash

Today, I compounded my first magic mouthwash prescription with a mixture of 40 milliliters of each solution: antacid, hydramine & viscous lidocaine. It was pretty interesting and easy. I also noticed that the sig was: swish and swallow one teaspoon...oops, forgot how many times a day...

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Summer Pharmacy Internship-Week 3 & Insomnia

I took an antihistamine/decongestant combo for my allergies before going to bed and at I'm now wide awake at 4 am-thanks to the side effect of the decongestant! I figured I might as well make good use of my time instead of tossing and turning in bed.

It was crazy at the pharmacy today, after a three-day weekend. I worked about 10 hours and my feet were so painful (they still are, but I'm glad to not be standing anymore). I felt like a robot, cranking out one bottle of prescribed medicine after another. I filled hundreds of prescriptions, but didn't even know the general indications for most of them, and there was no time to learn.

One particularly interesting prescription that I came across today was the magic mouthwash. It's an easily compounded oral solution with a mixture of three different ingredients in equal portions: 40 milliliters of hydramine, antacid & lidocaine solutions to make 120 milliliters of the final product. The technician compounded the solution using the instructions written by the doctor. Lidocaine makes the solution viscous and hydramine adds a pleasant smell. The Maalox provides a minty scent to the solution and makes it milky in appearance.

From Wikipedia, I learned that the magic mouthwash is used to treat inflammation, infection, and/or pain. It is commonly prescribed for pain related to oral ulcers caused by chemotherapy or radiation therapy. Some formulations may include tetracycline (antibiotic), Nystatin (antifungal), glucocorticoids (anti-inflammatory). Maalox acts as a coating agent and sucralfate can also be used for the same purpose.

Based on my knowledge, the magic mouthwash the technician prepared today must have been used to reduce pain (lidocaine) and inflammation (hydramine). I should have looked at the sig to see the instructions for use, but I'll ask my sister about it later.

There are so many things to learn and so little time. I haven't even completed the first item on my list to do this summer yet! Hopefully, I'll get at least one day off per week in August to catch up on some things that need to be done before going back to school in September. I really miss school and seeing my friends and classmates, but don't look forward to the hectic pace of life.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

My Thousand-Dollar Camera Lens

After days of reading reviews, researching and much anticipation, I went to Samy's Camera, spent twice the amount of money I made in one week, to get the ultimate multi-purpose, super fast and low-light shooting lens from canon: EF-S 17-55mm IS USM f/2.8! It's such a big purchase that my credit card company had to wait until I called to confirm the charge before removing the hold. The charge more than doubled the price of my Canon Rebel XTi and the salesman was trying to convince me to upgrade my camera, saying that the lens was too good for it. Although he was probably right, but I am quite happy with the camera right now and plan to use it for at least two more years. I would rather spend more money on a macro and a telephoto lens right now (if I could afford it!). I am seriously considering getting at least another lens before the end of summer. A good carbon-fiber tripod with a ball head (the cost is about $500) will complete the number of items to fit in my newly purchased camera backpack!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Fourth of July

It's 1 AM and I still hear fireworks going off around my neighborhood. It was so smoky earlier that I could smell them during my ride home on the new apple-red Vulcan that my husband recently bought.

Our dog, Marley, has been really anxious for the past week because of all the noise they create. We were seriously considering putting him on lorazepam but decided to keep him calm by letting him come into our room tonight. Poor thing! He was so shaking so hard when we got home.

Why do people spend so much money on fireworks? Kids are so spoiled nowadays! All these illegal air-born ones and the noise at such hour really annoy the heck out of me.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Summer Pharmacy Internship-Week 2 & Paycheck

It feels good to be on the positive side of finance again after I got my first paycheck this week. Even though it wasn't much, b/c it had only been one week since I started work, but it's better than having to pay out constantly without making any money.

Work continues to be interesting but really tiring after about eight hours of standing. I find myself falling asleep soon after dinner every night and not having the energy to review more of the OTC topics. So far, I have only managed to read a portion of the heartburn & dyspepsia chapter in the OTC Handbook. The review was much needed and the knowledge helps when I counsel patients on the OTC & prescription antacids, H2RAs, & PPIs.

Counseling continues to be a challenge but I feel fortunate to have a chance to practice. It keeps me on my toes in reading up on certain medications on a nightly basis and asking questions about them so I can do a better job.