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Thursday, July 22, 2010

My Last Summer as a Pharmacy Tech

So I’m sure the title is probably throwing a few people off since the School of Pharmacy is not part of the Health and Human Sciences Department. My major coming into Purdue was originally pharmacy before I changed to nursing my sophomore year. During the summer prior to changing my major, however, I managed to get a job as a pharmacy technician at the VA Medical Center in Indianapolis. Despite my change of major, my supervisors wanted me to stay on, and with flexible hours and good pay, I could hardly turn it down. I’m now going into my 5th and final year at Purdue. It’s hard to believe really. Time has gone by so fast. I know this fall is going to be bitter sweet. I’ve worked at the VA now for three years – this is my fourth summer. Last summer, I also worked at Riverview Hospital in Noblesville as a nurse’s aide on the Med Surg and Rehabilitation floors to balance out my pharmacy and nursing work experience. Over the years, I’ve learned so much, and as a future nurse, I’ve especially come to appreciate the work that my fellow healthcare workers provide for the patients. I’ll try to focus on the VA as much as possible since that is my current job and gives a different perspective on nursing.
The VA is very different from any other hospital that we, as health care workers, may ever work in. The patient population for one is mostly geriatric patients, though with the current war we are engaged in, we do see some military personnel that are home on leave or are finishing up their military careers. As such, many of the disease processes you see are those associated with the aging population – high cholesterol, hypertension, diabetes, heart failure, renal failure, depression, etc. And of course, there are traumatic injuries involved as well – some of which may be from wars long since passed and others more recent. One of the perk of working in the pharmacy is I’ve definitely gotten to know many of the drugs names very well, what they treat, and which ones tend to be given together. Many of our patients will come in and ask for their “high blood pressure pills” or their “diabetes medication,” not knowing the generic or brand names of the drugs and you get to know which ones their looking for pretty quickly. As a student, my responsibilities have consisted of checking in patients and processing their medications for pick up or mail, filling various prescriptions, making various compounds such mixing different types of cream or reconstituting powdered medications, and processing patients out of the pharmacy as they pick up their prescriptions. On an average day, we may have anywhere from 350 to 500 patients and process close to 1,000 prescriptions for pick up alone. The majority of prescriptions are mailed out to patients, and though we do fill some of those prescriptions, a lot of those medications actually come out from a massive mail out facility in Chicago. A large portion of our patients are also on narcotics of some kind, whether it is for pain, mood stabilization, or anxiety, and those medications are housed in the “vault” as we like to call it, which has its own staff and password to get into. Additionally, we also have a methadone clinic, which is used for patients who may be withdrawing from street drugs. They come in at certain times during the week and are given the methadone which has been dissolved in a fruity drink of some kind, and this helps to keep them off the street drugs.

So I’m pretty this entry is fairly lengthy as it is, so I’ll save some of the stories about the interesting people I’ve met or situations I’ve been put it for the next entry. Until then.


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