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Faculty Students

What Does Pharmacy Look Like From a High School Student's Perspective?

Author cupharmacy | Publish Date March 24, 2017

As a senior from Rangeview High School I never thought I would be fortunate enough to have the opportunity to intern at the University of Colorado Skaggs School of Pharmacy. I worked with Kim Wisneski from the Pickens Technical College’s Executive Internship Program to intern at the school. However, if it wasn’t for Dana Brandorff and the faculty I shadowed, there would be no way that I would have been able to participate in such a great internship.

Originally, I was intended to work at a Walgreens pharmacy but due to complications regarding their paperwork it would have taken too long for me to begin my internship. As a result, I consider myself to be very fortunate to intern at the school of pharmacy, and I am learning possibly more than I ever would have at a Walgreens pharmacy.

I have worked alongside some of the faculty now and attended the HOSA State Leadership Conference with the marketing team. HOSA is an international student organization recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and the Health Science Education (HSE) Division of ACTE. HOSA's two-fold mission is to promote career opportunities in the health care industry and to enhance the delivery of quality health care to all people. I have never heard of, nor been to, HOSA and it was a unique experience, and I believe that it is an event that my high school, Rangeview High School, should adopt so students can learn more about the health professions. It was definitely an informational experience for myself and the other high school students.

My basic background of pharmacy before this internship was miniscule. In all sincerity, I thought that all a pharmacist did for a living was count pills for a patient. However, I knew there must be more to this profession than what I did know at the time. On Wednesday, March 15 I shadowed Dr. Linnebur at the seniors clinic at the University of Colorado Hospital. In the time I spent there I learned that a pharmacist has a far more important role in a patient's health than I previously thought. As a clinical pharmacist, you must make sure the patient is getting the right amount of medicine they need, at the right dosage, at the right time with consideration to all the other medications they may be receiving. In light of this lesson, I am thoroughly interested in a pharmacist’s capability in the health professions.

On Friday, March 17 I shadowed James Griffon in Dr. Simberg's lab where I saw what it was like to be a researcher in the pharmaceutical field as well. Initially, I came into the lab expecting...well lab work. However, what I was ignorant to was what they are studying in the lab. At the beginning of my experience I watched James switch cancer cells that were growing in a container into new ones with new media to keep them alive and multiplying.  They then use the cancer cells in mice to see the effects of various treatments that they can come up with. Next, I saw him dissect mice so that they can use their organs to determine where the leukemia they injected into the mice went and how a certain type of treatment can be possibly developed. Reflecting on this experience, I hope I can one day get the necessary training to work in a lab.

Additionally, I participated in a lab with first year pharmacy students taught by Dr. Rice, Dr. Simberg and another Doctor (I regretfully didn't get the name of). In the lab, I was able to compound Aspirin with lactose that came together in a single capsule. Then with the same compound I put it into powder paper, which Dr. Rice so kindly taught me how to fold. After the first class had left the lab, I provided assistance to the students in the next class participating in the lab, folding the powder paper.

Lastly, I shadowed Dr. Chavez at the Salud Clinic and I observed him and his co-worker, Michelle, interacting with patients. This idea of a pharmacist interacting with their patients was foreign to me and something I never thought was possible. I really enjoyed seeing how they interacted with the patients because it was much more about personalized medicine. As a result of being in the clinic and being able to shadow Dr. Chavez and Michelle, I am really amazed by what they do. Reflecting upon this experience, I realize that if I want to be a valuable healthcare provider, and to help serve more of the population, I should learn Spanish and possibly more languages in order to communicate with patients and get them the medicine they need.

My internship has been an enlightening experience thus far. I balk at the idea that pharmacists just count pills now. I believe pharmacists play a vital role in the healthcare system. In light of the new Colorado law where pharmacists can now prescribe for a variety of conditions (the first is birth control, soon to be followed by tobacco cessation), I believe it is the first step in the right direction to allowing pharmacists to be able to interact and inform many patients about drugs and medicine. It is also innovative in a geographical standpoint because pharmacies are almost everywhere. I have high hopes for this profession and I am thrilled to someday do this as my career.