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A student's life in the College of Pharmacy

Where did the time go?!?! April 18, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — tjohnsonpd1 @ 11:34 pm

I think it is appropriate to use the phrase at this time of the semester “Time flies when you are having fun!”.

ImageWhere did the year go?! I feel like it was yesterday when I was at orientation meeting all new first year pharmacy students. And now we are finishing up our first year!! I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel… 22 more days!

I am getting very anxious for this summer as I will be working as a Summer Intern for Cub Foods Pharmacy! (In Minnesota, you are able to become a licensed intern after your first year of pharmacy school). I have only heard wonderful things about this 8 week program! I look forward to being able to apply the knowledge and skills I have developed as a first year student out in a “real” pharmacy. 

Although there are only 22 more days left, there is still a lot to do! I want to make a list but it may just overwhelm me :/ However, in lab right now, we are learning about how to administer immunizations! This is the first year that first year student pharmacists at the University of Minnesota get taught how to administer vaccinations! Over the past couple weeks, we have had to complete online modules to learn about different immunizations, their scheduled doses, correct administration technique, and proper storage. (I still have 1 more module to complete…). This coming Monday, we go into lab and have to give an intramuscular and subcutaneous injection to another student pharmacist (and we get to receive,too)! How cool, right?! 🙂

A number of KaImageppa Psi members from both campusus are headed to Brookings, SD this weekend for Spring conclave! Conclave occurs twice a year (Fall and Spring) and it is a time to get together with “brothers” from different schools and share memories. This will be my first time attending conclave so I look forward to a great experience! 

Another exciting event (I think all) pharmacy students are looking forward to is pharmacy day on April 27th!! This day, pharmacy students do not have school but rather celebrate the profession of pharmacy by gathering at a park and participating in different activities. College Board (the student governing body for pharmacy students at the college) has done a wonderful job of organizing! Some of the events that are going to take place include volleyball, tug-of-war contest, golf, 5K race, plus more! I look forward to this event next week!


IPPE Placement and Open Heart Surgery March 25, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — tjohnsonpd1 @ 11:08 pm
Sunset on a lake north of Brainerd, Minnesota.

As mentioned in previous posts, one of the courses as a first year student is called Introductory Pharmacy Practice Experience (IPPE). One component of this course is interning as a student pharmacist in a community setting the summer after your first year. The Community Practice IPPE is three weeks long spending at least 40 hours per week in the community pharmacy setting throughout Minnesota. Placements were just released last week! I am very pleased with my placement as I will be in Alexandria, MN at Thrifty White Pharmacy. My grandmother lives in Alexandria and we have very close family friends that live on one of the lakes that have offered a bedroom for my time there! I am very excited to be living on the lake my last three weeks of summer! There is nothing like a good ole’ Minnesota summer! 

As part of the mentoring part of the IPPE course, this semester, I am assigned to a pharmacist in an institutional setting (hospital). Last Tuesday, my mentor allowed me to observe the responsibilities and duties of a pharmacist in the operation room department. It was a great experience as I was able to observe her stay busy answering surgeon’s questions, responding to nurse anesthetics, dispensing medications,  and making IVs for patients. Also, I was able to peek in on an open heart surgery and knee surgery!! I had never been down in the operating room before so it was great to see the procedure and how busy everyone stays in that department. I am interested in hospital pharmacy so this was a wonderful opportunity to be exposed to this type of setting.

Happy Spring!


Today marks one year March 4, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — tjohnsonpd1 @ 8:51 am

Today marks the one year since receiving my letter of acceptance into the University of Minnesota College of Pharmacy!!!  It is a day that I will never forget as it solidified by future plans! I know a few of my classmates and I have shared our stories about when we found out we were accepted so I will share mine with you.

On March 4, 2011, it was a Friday night, and I was just sitting around waiting for my boyfriend to come visit for the weekend. It was about 5:30p.m when I was going through emails when I came across one in which the subject line read: University of Minnesota College of Pharmacy. Epinephrine kicked in and my heart just started racing!! I closed my eyes when I clicked on the email and the first thing I saw when I opened them was CONGRATULATIONS!!   I WAS ESCTATIC!!  I literally jumped out of my chair, started screaming Yes! Yes! My roommates had no idea what was going on at this time! They all came running to my room and as I started tearing up, letting out a sigh of relief “I got into my number one choice pharmacy school! I am going to the University of Minnesota College of Pharmacy!!” My past roommates are all in the healthcare profession, one in med school right now and one a registered nurse so they knew the feeling. I was filled with happiness and excitement so I called my parents right away! At the time, they were only about half a mile away at the Aquatic Center down at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities watching a neighbor friend compete in a swimming race. My dad and mom were thrilled! About an hour later, my parents, boyfriend, and younger sister showed up at my apartment with flowers and a bottle of champagne! It was a time of celebration as I know it took a lot of work to get where I am today!

I do not have one regret about deciding on the University of Minnesota College of Pharmacy. It has been one of the best decisions I have made in my life thus far! As I began a new chapter of my life about 6 months ago, I reflect on my journey that got me where I am today. If it were not for the support of friends, family, colleagues, co-workers, I would not be enrolled at a prestigious pharmacy school!

Pharmacy Rx symbol


Diabetes 101 – Managing Patients with Diabetes February 19, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — tjohnsonpd1 @ 3:32 pm

So as  I was thinking about what to blog next and it occurred to me when something was mentioned in class regarding diabetes. Diabetes has been mentioned in every single class thus far in pharmacy school. Does that signify something? Yes — it says how important it is to understand this chronic disease as the prevalence keeps rising!

Diabetes mellitus is a chronic disease in which there are high levels of sugars in the blood. Did you know that the total prevalence of diabetes is 25.8 million children and adults in the United States? That’s 8.3% of the population! There have been 18.8 million people diagnosed and 1.9 million new cases of diabetes were diagnosed in people aged 20 years and older in 2010 (www.diabetes.org).

One of the recent labs I completed was called Managing Patients with Diabetes. During this lab, we evaluated different blood glucose meters for ease of use, sample size, and testing time. Also, we got to test our own blood glucose levels, cholesterol levels, and A1C. Plasma glucose testing measures the amount of glucose in the plasma which is done clinically in the laboratory setting. Self monitored blood glucose testing is used when a patient uses a whole blood sample and applies it to a glucometer to measure whole blood glucose levels. This provides the patient with immediate feedback. A normal fasting glucose test is <100mg/dL. Glycosylated Hemoglobin (A1C) provides information regarding a patient’s glycemic control over a longer period of time (previous 120 days). This type of testing is not used to monitor day-to-day testing like the glucometer. A normal A1C falls between 4-6% (www.webmd.com).


Several different risk factors exist for developing diabetes. These include obesity, age, smoking, high-fat diet, excessive alcohol intake, metabolic syndrome (high cholesterol, high LDL, low HDL), race, inactive lifestyle, and genetics. It is important to monitor a patient’s cholesterol levels as they are not always obvious to the patient. If a patient’s total cholesterol is >200mg/dL or HDL <40mg/dL or LDL is >100mg/dL or triglycerides are >150mg/dL, he or she should consult their primary care physician (www.webmd.com).

Just to add to the fact about the importance of learning about diabetes, I mentioned in a previous post as a first and second year student, you are assigned a community teacher, someone who you meet with and discuss their general health and medications throughout the academic year. One of the requirements with this is creating a presentation about some health disease and presenting it to a group of community teachers or public audience. The topic my classmates and I chose was Type II diabetes because of the increasing prevalence and educating patients about preventative methods to decrease their chance. Also, another assignment for a class is reading a book called “Cheating Destiny: Living with Diabetes” by James S. Hirsch. I am excited to begin this book as I know I will not only learn a lot about  the disease but about how to help patients who have diabetes.





Mariner Mall Health Fair February 6, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — tjohnsonpd1 @ 7:52 pm

On Saturday, I participated in my first Health Fair at Mariner Mall in Superior, WI. This health fair is usually the largest of the year. I was told that we screened about 160 residents from the surrounding community! 🙂 The residents were very grateful for our performance and recognized us as professionals. Throughout the day, student pharmacists performed health screening tests such as blood pressure, blood glucose, cholesterol, A1C, and bone density tests.  As first year students, we were able to conduct in-take forms, blood pressure, and bone density tests. Third year student pharmacists counseled the participants about their results from the screenings, current medications, and other pertinent health conditions. This experience was a great opportunity to reach out to individuals of the community and promote health wellness. It was a win-win situation as residents of the community could receive health screening tests for free and allowed student pharmacists the opportunity to practice what is learned in school and apply it to “real-life” patients.

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Also, see the video clip shown on the news!




Temperatures below zero… Minnesota Winter January 19, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — tjohnsonpd1 @ 11:33 pm

I usually take the shuttle bus from my apartment complex to school every day. This morning, I received a text from the apartment office stating “Please drive or carpool to school today, only one of the three shuttle buses will start. We will try to fit as many residents as we can on the bus”. Luckily, my roommates car started and we scurried into school revealing very little skin to the air (my nostril hairs froze a bit).  An extreme cold warning was issued this morning for most of Northeastern parts of Minnesota with a temperature reading of -14 on the car thermometer. Wind chills were around -30 to -40 in Duluth. BRRR!

After day 2 of being a PD 1.5, I look forward to another (what I hear to be) great semester! 🙂 As far as classes, most of the classes continue this semester, Practice of Pharmaceutical Care, Pharmaceutical Care Skills, Biochemistry, Drug Delivery, and Early Pharmacy Practice Experience. The new classes this semester include Immunology & Biotechnology, Pharmaceutical Calculations, and Patient Assessment. This semester, first year students are able to choose elective courses. One elective course I am taking this semester is Leading Change in Pharmacy which is a leadership course. The College of Pharmacy offers a leadership emphasis program for student pharmacists in which a series of courses are completed. The student works with a faculty advisor to choose elective learning opportunities that best match the student’s career interests. This program also may accept prior credit for management courses completed during pre-pharmacy coursework! I plan to enter the leadership emphasis program as I am certain I will gain skills and tools that I can utilize in many aspects of my life, especially to the profession of pharmacy!


Back to school… Back to school… January 17, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — tjohnsonpd1 @ 12:36 am

As Adam Sandler says in Billy Madison, “Ohh back to school. Back to school” .

As I am enjoying my last day of winter break, I thought I would recap the events that took place. As I mentioned in my previous post, I was going to work at Camp Friendship as a Health and Medication Aide. As a reminder, Camp Friendship is a camp for individuals with developmental disabilities, physical disabilities, seizure disorders, sight or hearing loss or a combination of disabilities. Some of the disabilities include attention deficit disorders (ADD/ADHD), autism, cerebral palsy, Childhood Disintegrative Disorder (CDD) or Heller’s disease, Down syndrome, Fetal alcohol syndrome, Fragile X syndrome, Oppositional Defiance Disorder (ODD), Aspergers, William’s syndrome and Rett’s syndrome. Camp is a time for campers to make new friends, develop new skills, and have fun! Some of the activities at camp included arts and crafts, yoga/aerobic exercises, rock climbing, cooking/baking, sledding, snowshoeing, gym time,  hayrides, Wii, popcorn parties, and board games.

My two weeks at Friendship Ventures – Camp Friendship allowed me to gain more of an appreciation for individuals of diverse abilities. It was an eye-opening experience to see some of the struggles that campers dealt with but brought a smile and satisfaction to see how they  handled their disability while maintaining a positive attitude. As a healthcare staff member, it was my responsibility to enhance the quality of life for the campers, their families, and caregivers by ensuring the campers received their indicated medications at the correct time as well as assisting with First Aid treatments, cares, transfers and emergency procedures.  The first week, there were about 90 campers ages ranging from 7 to 60 year olds. The second week, there were about 50 campers ages ranging from 25 to 62 year olds.

A typical day for me was wake up at 7a.m, go do my 8a.m med pass, breakfast at 8:30a.m, assist those in the Health Center, set-up my noon med pass, administer meds at noon, set-up odd time med passes such as 2p.m. or 3p.m, hang-out with campers in my assigned cabin, set-up 5p.m meds, administer dinner time meds, set-up 9p.m meds, assist with personal cares for bed time, pass out 9p.m meds, assist those in Heath Center, set-up 8a.m meds, bed time at 11:00p.m or midnight and then repeat.

Every camper had a medication profile that was filled out prior to the beginning of camp. At check-in day, the Health and Medication Aides (HMA) sat down with each camper’s caregiver to go over their medications, the correct dosing, time of dosage, proper administration, and any specific instructions. After check-in was over, the healthcare team organized each camper’s medications into bins properly labeled with the name of the camper and cabin. Each HMA was assigned a certain number of campers based on the number of medications that were to be given each day. The first day was the busiest as setting all the meds took time. As the days went by, setting meds did not take as long as it was a routine.

Some of the unique opportunities I was able to learn and perform were responding to seizures, administering suppositories, performing neurological exams, administering a growth hormone injection, changing a colostomy bag, and gastrointestinal tube feeding. Overall, this experience was a great way to develop relationships, practice my patient care skills, and gain knowledge about medications 🙂 (I learned A LOT!)

If you would like to learn more about Friendship Ventures, feel free to ask me questions or visit  www.frienshipventures.org/

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 Besides living at camp for two weeks, I was able to enjoy some time with family and hometown friends. The Holiday season is always an excuse to relax, eat lots, and be merry and that is just what I did those few days I had. 🙂 Well as I said before, back to school tomorrow to learn LOTS!!