Welcome to the Presbyterian College School of Pharmacy blog!

Monday, July 7, 2014

I can remember back to when I was in middle school having people tell me the importance of making good study habits early. Luckily, I took that advice and managed to do just fine in high school and undergrad. Now, as a first year pharmacy student, I see the importance of starting those habits early because they have served me well in my first year here at PCSP. If I could give undergrad students, (or even high school students for that matter) one piece of studying advice, it would be…drum roll please…start making a habit of studying a little every night! No longer will studying the night before, or even a couple nights before, be sufficient. Number one, you’re being presented a lot more material in a short amount of time. Number two, who really enjoys the occasional meltdown from being overwhelmed? Studying a little each day helps prevent those! (And helps you do well on the occasional pop quiz). Few meltdowns and nice pop quiz grades makes for a much happier world, my friend. Plus it will give you some fridge-worthy tests to send home to Mom. Pharmacy school isn’t a walk in the park, but by implementing good study habits and a good work ethic, it’s definitely doable! 

Written by Aurezu, P1 Student

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Commuting or Moving to Clinton

For those curious about living situations while at PCSP, several students commute, but also a lot of students live in Clinton.  I found a little apartment through the PCSP Housing Group that you could be added to once you get accepted.  Although it may seem like there is nowhere to live in Clinton, there are places around. It just requires a little time looking.  There are apartments available and lots of houses available for rent. You could even find a roommate if you wanted to live with one of your classmates.  I think there are so many benefits to living in town, like being able to study at school late knowing that I live right around the corner instead of having a 30 minute commute. Going to intramural sporting events knowing I won’t have to drive home late and also a lot of the P1’s live here so we get together and hang out when we have some free. To me I think it is just very convenient.  I like living in Clinton since I’m only 5 minutes from school, and I recently got a puppy so I can run home at lunch and let him out which is great!  There are even some community events that you can attend some weekends in town along with PC football games and other sporting events.  I have found living in Clinton very beneficial my first year here at PCSP.  Hope this helps those looking for housing in the area, good luck!

Written by Sara, P1 Student

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Opportunities for Pharmacists in the Health-System

Hello, my name is Caleb, and I am a third year student pharmacist at the Presbyterian College School of Pharmacy in Clinton, South Carolina.  Among other activities at school, I am a student ambassador and serve as the President of the Student Society of Health-System Pharmacists (SSHP), which is an organization dedicated to advocating for and advancing the practice of pharmacy in the hospital and health-system setting.  

Each year, three pharmacy students in South Carolina are selected for an honors program known to as the Veterans Affairs Learning Opportunities Residency (VALOR) program. The VALOR program is designed to attract academically successful students of Doctor of Pharmacy programs to serve our country’s veterans by working within the Department of Veterans Affairs. This program gives outstanding students the opportunity to develop competencies in clinical pharmacy while at an approved VA health care facility, and the program aims to provide students with experiences that cannot be achieved through positions in other areas of pharmacy practice.  Annually, two students complete the program at the WJB Dorn VA Medical Center in Columbia, and one student is selected to complete the program at the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center in Charleston.  I was given interviews for both programs and was ultimately selected for one of the seats at Dorn VA.  The other spot at Dorn was given to another PCSP student, John Ngo, who is currently a fourth year student pharmacist completing his advance practice rotations. 

I am gaining clinical experience in the inpatient pharmacy setting, but I also have longitudinal staffing duties in the outpatient pharmacy.  Although I have only been in my role for a few weeks, I have already learned so much from my experience.  One area in which I work in the inpatient setting is known as medication reconciliation.  Once a patient is admitted to the Dorn VAMC, a nurse gathers all of their medical history, including the medications which they are currently taking and includes this in the patient’s admission progress note.  One of the good things about the VA system is that most of the patients get all of their prescription medications delivered by mail from the centralized VA pharmacy in Charleston, so we already have record of those prescriptions.  However, we must be thorough and ensure that they do not get any other prescriptions filled at another pharmacy, take any over the counter medications, or take any type of dietary or herbal supplements.  After this information is gathered, the patient is seen by a medical provider.  After the provider reviews the patient’s information and performs an exam, he or she inputs his orders, some of which are labs and others are medications.  This is where I come in. 

 I perform a thorough medication reconciliation review for all patients coming through whichever service I am working that day (e.g., pulmonary care unit).  To start, I compare the medications that the patient took as an outpatient to the medications that the provider has the patient taking as an admitted inpatient, and I document any new medication additions, any medication discontinuations, as well as any dosage or delivery (e.g., oral to IV) changes to a patient’s medication regimen.  After this, I calculate the patient’s creatinine clearance.  For those of you who may not know, calculating creatinine clearance is our best way to clinically estimate a patient’s kidney function.  Since the kidneys are the organ in our body that eliminates wastes, and since the majority of drugs are partially if not wholly eliminated via the renal route, kidney function is very important when it comes to designing dosage regimens.  Persons with poor renal function must have adjustments made to their medication regimens since they will not be able eliminate most drugs from their bodies as effectively as someone with normal renal function. So, after calculating a patient’s kidney function, I review their current inpatient medications and document any recommended dosage adjustments. 

My next step in medication reconciliation is documenting drug-drug and drug-food interactions.  I place the patient’s medications into the drug interaction tool in Micromedex, which is one of our drug information resources, and make notes for the medical provider about all severe drug interactions.  In the event of a contraindication existing on the patient’s current medication regimen, I document my findings in my med rec note and immediately call the inpatient clinical pharmacy specialist.  From there, she gets in touch with the medical provider to get the situation corrected ASAP. 

My very last step in the medication reconciliation process is to monitor for adherence, at least regarding the prescriptions that the patient takes as an outpatient that are delivered from the VA central pharmacy.  For example, I have dates of their last fill, as well as the directions and the quantity of tablets that they were given. If it has been six months since the patient got their last 30 day supply, then they are not taking their medication like they should.  I make note of all of the medications with which it is suspected the patient has not been adherent and include it in my med rec note. 
Also, there are many residency trained clinical pharmacy specialists that work at the VA, and I will be spending time on their services throughout the next year.  Examples of some of the specialized pharmacy services include psychiatry, infectious disease, geriatrics, oncology, informatics, primary (ambulatory) care, and the list goes on!

I know this post was a bit long, but I hope that it helps you to realize all of the awesome opportunities that exist for pharmacists today, especially in the health-system setting! 

Written by Caleb, P3 Student

Monday, June 30, 2014

Birthday in Clinton

Moving to Clinton, SC from Houston, TX was a big step for me. I had been born and brought up in Texas so moving to SC meant leaving behind my family and friends. This was the first time I would be celebrating my birthday away from my family and friends. I was a little homesick at first, but then my friends here at PCSP made this one of the most memorable birthdays ever. Clinton may be a small town, and we were scared there would be nothing to do midweek to celebrate my birthday. When we found Palmetto Lanes we figured what better way to celebrate a birthday than by bowling and playing putt putt. The place has bowling, indoor putt putt, pool tables and arcade games. The prices are very reasonable which makes it fun and affordable on a college budget. I truly enjoyed my birthday here, not just because of the atmosphere but because I realized that my PCSP friends have truly become my second family and I’m thankful for having them be  a part of my life.

Written by Marilyn, P1 student

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Time Management

Hi! My name is Alex and I’m a second year pharmacy student at PC. A lot of incoming students have questions about how to balance a pharmacy school schedule and life outside of school. This is basic time management.
I am currently president-elect of a professional pharmacy fraternity in addition to 3 other organizations that I am involved with. I am also very active within my community. I am very busy but I am able to be a successful leader at PCSP and student organization member. The most important thing that you must remember when getting involved at PCSP is that school is always first!

The best method of keeping up with all of your assignments, labs, classes, and meetings is definitely a planner. I write down everything from homework problems to dinner plans. Its important to always keep on top of things that way you don’t miss a deadline. If so, you might not get credit for your hard work!
The best advice I ever received concerning time management and pharmacy school is to treat it as a full time job; you are a full time student! Most classes begin at 8:30 am and with labs, meetings, and projects you usually do not arrive home until around 5 pm. If you have your days planned out and know what to expect, you can tackle any additional curveballs that might come your way!

Pharmacy school is tough but if you manage your time well, there is no reason why you cannot participate in any organization, activity, or opportunity that arises! Always remember that school is your first priority and keep your planner handy!
Written By Alex Yarborough, P2 Student

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

El Salvador Pediatric Trip

This past summer I had the opportunity to go on a medical mission trip to El Salvador.  PC School of Pharmacy joined up with Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine (VCOM) to conduct medical outreach to mainly pediatric patients.  Three pharmacy students, including myself, worked alongside thirty VCOM medical students, two pharmacist preceptors, seven physician preceptors, and a few other volunteers to make this trip successful.  During our trip, we stayed in three different hotels and truly got to experience local culture as well as delicious food.

Throughout our seven day trip, we conducted our mobile clinics in five different locations including the Heart of Mary Orphanage, Escuela Publica Santa Agueda, the Peace Messengers Orphanage, Shalom Community Health Clinic, as well as setting up in a remote mountain community called El Trimidal in Chalentenango.  The day to day operations included the following:  medical students examined patients under the supervision of physician preceptors in make-shift examination rooms, patients were escorted to the pharmacy by the medical students, medical students presented patients to the pharmacy with symptoms and desired medications, pharmacy students validated medications and dosages under the supervision of pharmacist preceptors, the medications were prepared for patients by the pharmacy students, and patients were counseled on the correct administration of the medications.
During the seven days we were there, we administered care to over 500 patients and dispensed over 1,200 prescriptions.  Care was given mainly to children, but we also cared for parents of the children as well as teachers at the orphanages.  Some of the commonly prescribed medications included antiparasitics, analgesics, antihistamines, multivitamins, and lice kits.  Although these were the commonly prescribed medications, we also dispensed other medications in addition to these.  

This medical outreach trip was a wonderful experience and was very rewarding.  I believe it exemplifies PC’s motto of “Dum Vivimus Servimus” which means while we live, we serve, and I feel blessed to have been able to serve on this trip. 
Written by Kemper, P2 Student


Friday, December 27, 2013

Tips on Interviewing.

As a Student Ambassador, one of the things I’ve picked up on is that prospective students get some serious butterflies for their interviews. I suppose there’s good reason for the nervousness right? It’s not like your whole future might depend on the interview process! So I decided to write this blog to give prospective students tips for conquering the interview so that when you leave, you’ll be happily thinking, “I killed it!”

1. Dress to Impress

First impressions are always important. When you walk into the interview room, the first thing everyone is going to notice is your appearance. Guys, you should wear dress slacks, a coat, and a tie to look your best. Ladies, consider black pants and a nice shirt with a coat, or anything that fits the business attire descriptions. Also, make sure you get a good night’s rest before the interview to ensure alertness and to avoid those pesky yawns.

2. Take A Deep Breath

Don’t worry, everyone gets nervous before interviews. I think the important thing to remember here is that the people interviewing you want you to succeed. They want to get to know you. They want you to be comfortable. So relax, take a big deep breath before you go in and maintain a positive attitude. When you go in, offer a firm handshake to your interviewers and introduce yourself.

3. The Interview

Now it’s time to get things started. Take a few more breaths if you still feel a little nervous. Sit up straight and be a good listener. When speaking, try to be clear and concise and speak in complete sentences. Don’t forget about eye contact! It’s the key to effective speaking. Answer questions presented to you with necessary information but don’t ramble. Speak from the heart and be honest in your responses. If you can’t think of an answer to a question immediately, don’t panic! Just take another breath and think about it for a few seconds. The interview is not a race so remember to take your time. Throughout the interview, be courteous and use good manners, be friendly but not too casual, and organize your thoughts.

4. Don’t…

Chew gum, speak in slang, play with your hair or clothes, act like you know everything, interrupt, smell like cigarettes, speak negatively, slouch, lie, discuss controversial topics, argue, and never ever ever ever answer your cell phone or text messages (unless its an emergency)!

5. Wrapping In Up

Upon the conclusion of the interview, thank the interviewers for their time. If you have any questions about the application process or the school in general, now is a good time to ask. And what may have seemed like an eternity is now over! You did it and you’re done! Follow these tips and I guarantee you will leave feeling confident and excited to get that acceptance letter.

I wish everyone applying good luck and hope you found these tips helpful!

Written by Zack, P1 Student