Pharmacy in the Frontier

Javelina Station

by on Mar.01, 2011, under Campus, Life

While surfing Student Doctor Network, I came across a candidate for the Class of 2015 who asked about Javelina Station – the student only apartment complex across from campus. Living here has several advantages…

1) FULLY FURNISHED. There’s no need to move all that crap down here!
2) Proximity to the school. If you’re a morning person (which I’m not), you can walk to school in the morning. Rather refreshing once in awhile. If you’re like me though, you can literally wake up 10 minutes before class and still make it if you drive.
3) Covered utilities (Electricity up to $120 per month… after that, you pay the surplus. The surplus is split between your flatmates).
4) Large yard and swimming pool in the back for barbeques, volleyball, swimming, etc. It also means you’re in immediate access to most of the off-campus functions that a lot of the CoP’s organizations hold (i.e. APhA’s start of the year and Halloween parties, SNPhA’s socials, etc.)

My only complaints are the blasted internet and the maintenance crew. The internet is completely unreliable here. Based on what I’m seeing here, I’m led to conclude that the entire building or the entire complex uses the same line. The fastest times are at night, or while everyone’s in class. God forbid if you want to accomplish something involving the internet (i.e. looking up OTC medications on the MSL) at a normal hour… Gotta go to the CoP or the library for that! As for the maintenance crew… I hear certain people have fairly okay experiences with them, but each time I ask them to come to my apartment to fix something, they always just come in, “check” the problem and just write it off as normal. I’ve been living with a shower that runs out of hot water in a matter of 4 minutes because most of the hot water still goes through the faucet portion rather than the shower head. Instead, what he does is he turns up my water boiler… which did nothing to affect the time and hiked my electricity bill sky high.

Oh, and I guess the fact they didn’t accomodate my request to be on the top floor would count against them. They say that they’ll put you in a building with only pharmacy students, but because not enough of us signed up here, they moved some undergrads above me. Party every Wednesday and um… “jackhammering” every other night. I borderline contemplate finalizing my order for a vuvuzela each time I hear them doing their business up there…

It’s a double edged sword, really. If you’re used to living in an apartment by yourself already, you may want to consider other options. If you’re used to dorm life, Javelina Station would be a good stepping stone towards an apartment.

Despite my grievances, I’ll still be living here since I like waking up and being able to get to class in no time, as well as the convenience of all the furniture and washer/dryer/crisper.

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Interviews – Class of 2015

by on Feb.18, 2011, under Classes, Life

It’s that time of year again.  Interviews started last week for the upcoming Class of 2015.  Unlike previous years, the interviews shifted to an earlier time of February rather than March, meaning that the interviewees will hear by early March.

I volunteered to assist with the Student Q&A session, in which the interviewees could ask questions after their individual interviews and written essay sections about student experiences or about anything they did not have the chance to ask the interviewers.

It feels a little odd, being on the other side of the process after participating as an interviewee just a mere year prior, but it feels redeeming in a way.  It’s helping my social skills as well, so that’s definitely a plus on my end Open-mouthed smile

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Spring Semester Update 1

by on Feb.18, 2011, under Classes

As usual, I find myself unable to update on a regular schedule, so this will suffice for the time being.  This seems to be the case even though this is the “easier” semester according to most at the Rangel College of Pharmacy. This is mostly because the amount of “busy work” increased this semester, with assignments for several classes on either a weekly or monthly basis.

This semester consists of the following courses:

- PHAR 611 – Principles of Drug Action II
- PHAR 628 – Research Methods – Biostatistics
- PHAR 642 – Pharmaceutics I – Lecture and Lab
- PHAR 657 – Law and Ethics
- PHAR 658 – Pharmacoepidemiology
- PHAR 673 – Self Care and Integrative Medicine

Drug Action is proving to be challenging to me (which hasn’t changed since last semester).  Oddly, unlike last semester, the Medicinal Chemistry portion is clicking with me better than the Pharmacology portion.

Pharmaceutics lab so far is quite interesting.  Before taking this lab session, I became very disillusioned by the labs I took in undergraduate.  But after coming here, the labs have been mostly enjoyable to me.  I sometimes attribute that to the fact we’re not stuck in a dingy, dark basement with leaking pipes and unclean instruments (I’m looking at you, Fleming). The lab here is pretty much brand new.  Each person has his or her own station (shared with two others, but they are in at a separate time), which comes with a scale, heater/magnetic stirrer, sink, etc. It’s liberating to have that sort of equipment to yourself without having to wait on others to use it. But the majority of it deals with my interest in compounding and the activities we deal with now may become of use to us as pharmacists (clinical, compounding, etc.).  For example, two weeks ago, we made medicinal powders. Last week, we created capsules with liquid suspensions and powders.  This week, since we were dealing with lozenges and medicinal sticks, we created lollipops and chap stick.

I also find Law and Ethics to be quite interesting.  Sure, this one involves more work since you have to read the textbook for most of the information regarding the law as well as creating questions every week, but it deals with the boundaries in which one will operate one’s practice in the future.  It also gave me another opportunity to work with my group from last semester, which I am extremely grateful for.  We presented a portion of the law regarding controlled substances under the Federal Controlled Substances Act and the Texas Controlled Substances Act to the class today, which turned out very well.  The equipment given to us in the college allowed us to present the material in a way that engaged the class, rather than to make them listen to yet another lecture presented by their peers.

I also have an interest in torts, but that’s a story for another day.

In pharmacoepidemiology, we’ve been covering the methods in which people discover the causes and origins of diseases and how they were dealt with (one of the subjects recently, I believe, involved the H1N1 virus, Smallpox, etc.).  Unlike most of the professors, the slides uploaded here are incomplete.  There are blank portions to ensure that a) you’re paying attention, and b) you can read the book to fill in the blanks while studying.

Self-Care deals with the OTC (over the counter) possibilities of treating patients, as well as the basic knowledge of common medical issues with the patients that come in for OTC treatment.  There is also a lab session with this particular course, but it only occurs about… three or four times this semester.

That mostly sums up the courses for this semester.

I am also pleased to say I’ve been involved in the interview process (not a huuuuge role, but a role nonetheless) this semester, and that will be in the very next post.

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End of Semester 1

by on Dec.31, 2010, under Campus, Classes, Site

Apparently, this subdomain was hacked sometime in between now and the first week. When exactly, I have no idea, as unfortunately, I didn’t keep to my promise of updating as often as I wished.  It was an oversight on my part to believe that I could do that, given my previous blogging habits as well as adapting to the new schedule and surroundings.

The first semester was undoubtedly with its ups and its downs.  The beginning of the semester started simple enough, but it picked up soon enough.  For the first few weeks, no exams, assignments, etc. Not too long after, every week came with two to three exams. Despite starting the semester with “proper study habits” that helped while I was still at the University of Houston, I soon fell out of said habits being lulled into a false sense of security.  From that point onward, I was unable to find a way to study properly and found myself cramming for the rest of the entire semester.  I’m hoping that I will be able to settle into the rhythm sooner this coming semester.

As for the groups mentioned before in the previous post, I was blessed to have been assigned to a very close-knit and coordinated team.  We quickly settled into our own work roles and were able to get our projects done in a fairly timely and qualified manner.  Some – according to stories I hear from my peers – were not so lucky.  Due to some living in Corpus rather than Kingsville, their work-ethic, or how they naturally interact with people, quite a few had to put in more effort than their teammates.  Like they say, however, you will have to learn to cope, because in the end, you still need to accomplish your goals.  You can’t really choose your coworkers… Hopefully my next group will be able to work together as well as this past one.

Immunizations were not as bad as I used to think. The media has a tendency to zoom in on the needles making contact with the skin, to a point where you can see the tension between the needle and the skin just before the needle breaks through. That bothered me for years until I actually had to take the training course. I don’t have zoom vision, and my sight is somewhat obscured by my hand as well as the rest of the syringe.  Additionally, I could not feel the needle having any trouble with reaching the target area. Thank you, James, for being my training partner that day.  I still don’t feel too comfortable with subcutaneous injections yet, but hopefully that will come with time.

A clarification on the service hours came near the end of the semester, in which one of the faculty/staff assured us that as long as we were CLOSE to the 15 hours required, we would be fine, as long as we reach the minimum 30 hours for the year.  They do want the service projects to be of different purposes if at all possible, however (for example, you shouldn’t have JUST immunization projects on your record… there should be blood glucose/pressure screenings, etc as well).

At the end of examinations, we are requested to visit with our academic adviser. Fortunately, my marks weren’t in the “danger zone”, so it went rather smoothly.  It was merely a survey-esque session in which I gave my feedback on how the college was run, how it could do better, how it could help us to do better, etc. This is understandable, given that it is a rather new establishment and only just accredited this year.

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End of Week 1

by on Aug.21, 2010, under Classes

To clarify, the previous assessment was not a “graded” assignment. According to some, it’s merely a tool to measure improvement or progress of each individual by comparing to future assessments.

The first week went a little smoother than I had expected.  This could be the “eye of the storm” though, so we’ll have to see.  I still need to readjust to the morning schedule though.  Counting Core Recitation, the typical day starts at 8:00 A.M. and can end between 2:00 P.M. and about 5:00 P.M. depending on the day.

Our class of 87 is divided into 18 teams of four to five members.  This grouping is assigned for the rest of the Academic Year.  No student input was given to the selection of the teams.  The justification is that “Even if you have problems with the individuals in your team, you will have to learn to cope. In the workplace, there will be times that you will entirely agree with your teammates, but you must cooperate to accomplish your goal.”  These groups will also facilitate the assignment of various projects within the many courses we are taking.

IPPE (Introductory Pharmacy Practice Experience) is a mixed bag of various topics.  On Wednesday was a brief introduction to the syllabus, followed by a rather long lecture on lab safety, but Friday’s session included our registrations for a Pharmacist Intern license with the Texas State Board of Pharmacy (TSBP), a lecture on HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996) and Bloodborne Pathogens.  Later on, it will include training in CPR, First Aid, Blood Pressure, as well as… *gulp*… immunizations.

As part of the curriculum, we are required to participate in 30 hours worth of health-related service projects within the academic year, with at least 15 per semester.  I will be participating in a Health Fair in Corpus Christi in the morning to hopefully whittle that number down.

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First Day of Orientation

by on Aug.12, 2010, under Campus, Classes

Today was Day 1 of the General Orientation for P1 students.  The entire Orientation process will take place over two days.  The first day is approximately eight hours long (including breaks), starting with opening remarks from the Dean and Associate Deans.  As far as orientations go, the “usual material” was covered; such as the facilities on the Texas A&M University – Kingsville campus, the class schedule, academic calendar, etc.

We also had Mr. Bill Moore, R.Ph., the former President of the Texas Pharmacy Association and current President of the Coastal Bend Pharmacy Association speak to us regarding patient care and pharmacy advocacy groups.

Mr. Paul Boyle from the Office of Information Technology was in Houston at the time, so we were able to observe and experience the teleconferencing technologies in use at the HSC.  During his time slot, I found that Office 2010 is $20.  I seriously wonder if it is worth upgrading when I already have Office 2007.

During our lunch break, several student organizations (SNPhA, APhA, etc) had booths set up in the hallway next to the student lobby.  I don’t think I’ve thought of the building as small until we all went into that hallway.  Still, having eighty-seven P1s in a hallway will definitely generate some traffic.

To my chagrin, there was an ungraded assessment activity (Part ONE!) at the end of today’s orientation.  It covered the basics of several topics that were covered in the undergraduate prerequisites (Biology, Statistics, etc.).  As far as I know, TAMHSC is not the only College of Pharmacy to assess their students prior to the start of the semester (one page was adapted from an assessment from the University of Houston. Can I get a confirmation on whether other schools assess their P1s beforehand?).  Although not too serious, it is an indicator of how much I retained from my undergraduate studies.  I can only hope I can retain information better here.

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Pharmacy in the Frontier

by on Aug.06, 2010, under Site

Hello and welcome to Pharmacy in the Frontier.

As a pre-pharmacy major at the University of Houston and now a P1 student at the Texas A&M Health Science Center Irma Lerma Rangel College of Pharmacy, there were many uncertainties I had to deal with: such as how life would be transitioning from the fourth largest city in the United States to a city of 25,000 people and how different professional school is from undergraduate.  Though I have yet to thoroughly explore the answers to these unknowns, I sincerely hope that by sharing my experiences at the Rangel College of Pharmacy, I may be able to dispel some of these fears from you (the reader).  I also hope that my experiences here will be exciting enough that I may convince some of you readers to apply here as well!

I will try to update on a weekly schedule (if you’re lucky, more than that).

Please feel free to leave feedback so that I may be able to better improve the site or add to what is posted to better suit your needs!

Until next time…

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