This past week at the Durham VA has been a busy one. The majority of my time this summer has been spent in the pharmacy filling inpatient and outpatient prescriptions. By doing so, I have been able to learn names of perscriptions by seeing them first hand. I have also spent time working the outpatient window, talking with patients and finding their prescriptions for them. All patients at the VA Hospital are veterans and a lot of them will actually tell you what branch of the military they served in and when.  It is very rewarding to talk to them and know you are helping them out in a small way compared to their fight for our freedoms.

This week, however, I spent two days shadowing two different pharmacists in the hospital. The first one was a critical care pharmacist. This was very interesting. Earlier this summer, I shadowed an ambulatory care pharmacist, (she is actually a professor at UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy) who works largely with diabetes and hypertension patients. After that day, I thought I wanted to have the one-on-one patient interaction that I saw the patient’s pharmacist having, talking about diabetes prevention and diet planning. However, as soon as I shadowed the critical care pharmacist on the surgical ward, I quickly changed my mind. He talked to me about how much he enjoyed working on the SICU (Surgical Intensive Care Unit) because of the fast turn over and interesting cases. After doing rounds that morning with himself and a doctor, I soon learned why.  Every day there is a new case, each one as interesting as the other. I also learned about the different kinds of perscriptions the patients in the SICU were taking, the reasons as to why they were taking them, and the healing impacts the medications were having on their bodies.

Two days later, I followed the Geriatric pharmacist in the nursing home which was an enjoyable experience. I was able to follow the pharmacist and the doctor, visiting the different patients in the VA nursing home. These patients were very interesting to talk to. It was clear that they have been through a lot during their lifetime and were willing to share all they could remember. A lot of them enjoyed discussing what they do in their free time and it was nice to hear them discuss their passions. I was, once again, exposed to the different medications that these patients were on and their different medical conditions, seeing real life examples of medications in action.

Before beginning my internship at the Durham VA Hospital Pharmacy, I had no idea that all of these different types of pharmacy existed.  I learned that a pharmacist can do so much more than work at a local grocery store or drug store.  Nearly every ward in the hospital has its own pharmacist that does daily rounds and is always on call for medicinal advice.  My time at the VA has definitely redefined my passion to go to pharmacy school, knowing that I have so many different options to choose from once I have completed my PharmD.