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Research Students

Experiences and people do they lead to somewhere?

Author cupharmacy | Publish Date May 8, 2017

At my internship I shadow a lot of people. Many of them pharmacists, but some of them are researchers like James Griffon. I was in Dr. Simberg’s research laboratory shadowing James and I watched him go about his daily duties. The lab is a very different environment compared to some of the other settings I have shadowed. I always find my lab experience to be fun and relaxing. James is always doing something , so consequently, I'm always seeing something. Whether it be old or new, I find the lab work to be interesting. This time James was working with mice skin and freeze it on dry ice so that later they can slice it and get pictures of cells. He also transferred some cancer cells into new media, which kills an enzyme that attacks and kills the cancer cells.

That week I also shadowed Cindy O'Bryant, PharmD, and was able to see her interact with patients.  She is a faculty member who work in University of Colorado Health's oncology clinic.  She also gave me a little reading assignment about a drug called FolFox, which is essentially five drugs used for chemotherapy.  One interesting effect those drugs have on the body is that they cause neuropathy, which make extremities like the fingers vulnerable to cold.  So, simply reaching inside the refrigerator could cause very sharp pains in the hands.  It's kind of amazing to think about the side effects that these drugs have and how they can affect a patient both positively and negatively. I'm more interested in oncology now that I had the opportunity to shadow Dr. O'Bryant.

I also shadowed Paul Limberis at the Hemophilia Pharmacy. He is the manager of the Hemophilia and Thrombosis Pharmacy where they service hundreds of patients with blood disorders and conditions.  While at this pharmacy, I shadowed his intern (Anup Shrestha) who is currently a first-year student at CU Skaggs School of Pharmacy and watched him compound medicine for a patient. Then, I shadowed Sarah, the pharmacy technician, and saw what she does for her job. She packages medicine, counts medicine; make sure it’s all the right medicine, and ships it to the patients mailing address.

After that experience, Peter Rice, PharmD,  let me attend a lab with first-year pharmacy students where we compounded IV (Intravenous) medicine. Instructor Sue Finstrom was putting several students through their paces, and one of the drugs we compounded was Lidocaine. At the beginning of her tutorial, she mentioned that gowning up can be challenging and that certain careers in pharmacy require this every day.  I found the sterilization process I had to follow a bit tedious. First, I put on the shoe garments, then a hair net, then a face mask, then the gown. However, the hardest part of setting up was putting on the gloves. I could not touch the sterile part of the gloves at all and I had to figure out how to put on the gloves without contaminating the gloves. Once I successfully put the gloves on they sprayed our hands with ethanol and we went to the hoods to compound the medicine. Following the procedure to compound the medicine was not as trivial as my past experiences because I had to hold the containers a certain way. Because I am not an official student at the school it provided a bit of a challenge. However, after the experience I will definitely remember the procedure for when I compound in a hood again. After the lab I was able to keep the medicine I made which impressed many of my peers.

Lastly, I went to Dr. Rice’s lab in the PCLC (Patient Care Learning Center) where I compounded medicine for gastrointestinal issues and diarrhea use. In the lab, I was able to calculate the needed amount of medicine and other ingredients. Then once I compounded the medicine and put it into the container I taste tested it, like Dr. Rice recommended, and it was diluted. It wasn't my best compounded medicine, but it was a great experience either way.

As a senior from Rangeview High School I consider myself to be very lucky to be a part of this internship, and to be getting this experience at such a young age. It has opened new doors for me and provided a lot of information that I will never forget. I know this experience will definitely prepare me for the future and my future career in Pharmacy.