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.