Wednesday, July 9, 2014

IPPE Yippies

During the entire month of May, I interned at the University of North Carolina Hospital.  The coveted Chapel Hill placement gave me a ton of opportunities that other PY1s may not have experienced.  The first thing you need to know is that UNC Health Care is huge.  The campus covers the entirety of South Campus and houses the Memorial Hospital, Children's Hospital, Women's Hospital, Neurosciences and Cancer Center.  There are three amazing places to eat and the world's largest Starbucks (24/7 and a 20% discount).

My internship was called the Introductory Pharmacy Practice Experience (IPPE).  Working with a preceptor, we are expected to learn the ins and outs of being a hospital pharmacist.  Almost every other pharmacy school sends their first year students into the community first, but we do things a bit differently.  You definitely start off feeling out of place on a content level and lost on a physical level.  My goal at the beginning was simple - find out if there was any area of hospital pharmacy that I could not see myself doing.  In the end, I felt comfortable throughout and could not find anything to mark off the list of possible future careers.

I and my 14 fellow IPPEs experienced many different areas of hospital pharmacy during our rotation in May.  I feel that we probably received a broader education than IPPEs that went off to other hospitals, especially the smaller ones.  While spending more than one day in an area would give depth to the experience, I would not trade the breadth.  I will be writing about each of the different areas that we went in much more detail throughout the month.  I have a lot to say about each of them and maybe they help some other people.

One major difference to mention now would be the set up.  Instead of a single pharmacist in charge of us, UNC delegates the IPPE education to two outgoing PGY2-Administration residents.  The Pharmacy Administration Residency is a two year program and they do a lot regarding management and leadership.  As a former coach, I have great respect for those particular aspects of the pharmacy world.  Our 15 students were divided into two groups for a challenge to have a pizza lunch with the Director of Pharmacy at the hospital.  My team, the IPPE Yippies, took on the Conformational Floppies through several tasks.

  1. We wrote on Wiki site through the School of Pharmacy about pretty much anything.  Whoever wrote the most received the most points for their team.  I hadn't planned on doing, but a another student pounced on it early.  I soon made my goal to catch her, but she had such a huge lead that I could only achieve second place.  
  2. One day we debated the merits of the 340B program that UNC Hospitals use for cheaper medications.  Our team won that by having the pro-340B side with all of the judges being hospital pharmacy residents.  I will write more about 340B later.
  3. We wrote SBAR memos to the director to make suggestions about improving the hospital.  SBAR is a common method of communication in the hospital to deliver ideas or information quickly and efficiently.  The Conformational Floppies dominated us in this one.  They wrote 7 suggestions while my team only wrote 3 (and I had 2 of them).  At this point, it did not seem like my team was interested in winning the competition.
  4. Finally, we mapped out the flow of medication through the hospital from order, verification, dispensation and administration.  Each team had to make one in a group effort to understand the hospital.  The Conformational Floppies apparently met for several hours on a Sunday to do theirs.  The IPPE Yippies put it off until the last second.  I tried to organize a lunch meeting to work on it, but it was a no go.  We really did not want to win apparently.  On the last day, we knew that we had to turn something in, so someone put it together quickly.  We looked it over on Google Docs and submitted it with no color and very little effort.  Whichever team won the map would win for the month.  
By a vote of 2-1, the IPPE Yippies prepared the most accurate medication map for the hospital.  Theirs was prettier, but ours was better.  You could say that we were shocked at the announcement.  We did not expect to win, nor did we really try.  Oops.  In the end, I suggested that everyone should be invited to the lunch with the Director.  And on the last day, after evaluations, we ate pizza and said our anticlimactic goodbyes for the rest of the summer.  It was weird leaving the hospital that last day.  Our badges had been taken and we had nothing left to do.  Classes wouldn't start for 2 months and all the stress and anxiety of our first pharmacy rotation had come to an end.  I am grateful for the opportunity to experience each of the areas at the UNC Hospital.  I have much more to say about everything that happened for my own reflection and for those interested as well.

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