Clinically Focused Student on Community Pharmacy Rotation

By Stephanie Yager posted 09-21-2014 14:10


As someone who is interested in residency and has only had clinical rotations so far, my community rotation has been big change of pace. Even though this is not the environment in which I plan to practice in the future, I have enjoyed learning more about community pharmacy practice, patient counseling, and OTC medications.

As expected, community pharmacy is BUSY. I am always on the go and multi-tasking. When I start a task, I am frequently interrupted by phone calls or patients’ questions, and have to remember what I was doing and what still needs to be done. I have had to apply what I’ve learned about pharmacy law and third party payers. Surprisingly, I don't feel even the least bit tired during rotation because of all the excitement of juggling multiple tasks. The day flies by before I know it!

This rotation has been a great opportunity for me to brush up on my patient counseling. I have also learned a lot about interpersonal interactions. It has been challenging to explain to angry customers why their insurance isn't covering their medications or why a medication is out of stock. Yet other times, it is refreshing to educate a customer on their medication and see their face transform with understanding. One patient was very concerned that her doctor had prescribed her an "epilepsy medication" for her foot and said she didn't plan on taking it. Seeing that she was also picking up insulin pens, I asked her if she had pain in her foot. She said that her foot was numb and tingly. I explained to her that gabapentin can be used for people with seizures, but it is more frequently used for the pain that she was describing (neuropathic pain) which is a common occurrence in patients with diabetes. She felt very relieved that her doctor did not prescribe her the wrong medication and was willing to try it.

Several times per day, I am asked about over the counter medications. I have gotten a lot of questions about laxatives, allergy medications, dietary supplements, vitamins, and herbal products. I have had to brush up on a lot of information because I focused more on my pharmacotherapy classes than my OTC classes during school. I have heard that the OTC section on the NAPLEX can be the most challenging for clinically focused students.

Overall, I have enjoyed the excitement of the fast paced workflow and have learned a lot on my community rotation. I expect many of the multitasking, patient counseling, interpersonal, and clinical skills that I have gained on this rotation will be useful in future rotations and for my future pharmacy career.

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