So after a nice and totally well rested winter break, we go back to school starting off with Block 3. Block 3 is basically Block 2(2.0). The difference between the two is that with Block 3, we got a handle on how to study for the classes. Nonetheless, this block had its own set of challenges.
Pathophysiology & Patient Assessment 2:
PPA 2 is still Anatomy & Physiology on steroids but this time it touches on the Immunity, Gastrointestinal, Endocrine, and Nervous Systems. Depending on who you talk to, the hardest parts of the class was between the Immunity, GI, and Nervous systems while the easiest was the Endocrine system. My personal dislike was the nervous system because of the little study time/recovery time for it after our endocrine exam and the SHEER amount of information that came with it as well. Still, the SI sessions were more of a lifesaver than Khan Academy this time around because we only had 8 weeks in the class as opposed to the 10-11 weeks we had in PPA 1.
Principles of Medicinal Chemistry & Pharmacology 2:
Med Chem 2 was a total 180⁰ from last semester. The class was about graphing and how to interpret them. It was the easiest class in this block; but just because it was easy, doesn’t mean you can slack off and still expect a good grade. My advice for this class is after watching the regular lectures, watch the supplementary videos and work on the practice problems/tests that the professors give you. Trust me, even though it’s a bit of extra work, it makes a world of difference when it comes to the TBL sessions and the final exam. Also, unlike the classes thus far, this class only have ONE EXAM (worth about 50% of your entire grade) so every grade on your quizzes matter here; it’s the difference between passing and failing this class.
Principles of Drug Therapy Individualization:
Drug Therapy Individualization (abbreviated as PDTI) is like Physics with Calculus on steroids. The topics that this class talks about is pharmacogenomics, pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics, drug distribution & clearance, and drug-drug/drug-food interactions just to name a few. There’s a lot of theories and calculations in this class and luckily, the equations that the professors give us are already derived for us. My advice for PDTI is to learn BOTH theory and the math behind them because they will come back to haunt you on the exams. If you’re stronger in one aspect than another (ex. I’m good with calculations but suck when it comes to understanding the theory) ask a classmate/teammate that’s good at the stuff you’re weak in and study with them. Also, unlike other classes, because of the sheer amount of topics in PDTI it overlaps in Block 4 for 3-4 weeks.
I personally did not like this class; the parts of the class that I enjoyed were doing the calculations and pharmacogenomics topics (to the point that I ordered a 23andMe Genetics Kit & no I have not used it until this day because of the whole “selling your information to insurance companies” issue. I’m still trying to figure out if this is true or not and whether if I should risk it regardless). I also felt that they should have just had two separate classes for the pharmacogenomics/genetics section and the pharmacokinetics/dynamics sections instead of merging them the way they did, but I’m not in charge of making the curriculum so I just have to believe that the school knows what they are doing.
So after a well-deserved spring break, we hop back in school starting Block 4. Block 4 is different because instead of brutal science classes, we actually start our pharmacy classes. Yay! Finally! This block is supposed to help prepare us with our community pharmacy rotation this summer.
Patient Care 1:
The Patient Care classes are an eight course series that breaks down learning the medications and their effects via body systems (ex. Immunity, GI, Renal, Endocrine, Cardiovascular, etc.). Within those classes, you’ll learn the pathophysiology of a specific disease in that body system and the pharmacology & medicinal chemistry of the medication that goes with the disease.
In Patient Care 1 case, it was mainly about herbals, dietary supplements, complementary alternative medicine (CAM), and over the counter medications (OTCs). We also learned about various self-care diseases such as colds, fevers, allergies, GI (constipation, diarrhea, etc.), and pain. Every week we had to work on writing SOAP notes and we had vignettes problems related to the diseases that were taught and what medication/herbals we should give to the patient, what’s the appropriate dosage of the meds, why we should give the patient the medication that we recommended instead of another medication which was similar, find out if the patients had any exclusions so we can refer them to their doctor instead of recommending any medication. This class was super dense and somewhat intimate but it’s worth it at the end as you need this information for your CIPPE.
I personally loved this class because I was always interested with the effects of herbals and alternative medicine!
Principles of Evidence-Based Practice:
Evidence-Based Practice (or PEBP for short) was about reading, analyzing, & interpreting scientific/research articles with data and how to search for said literature. How PEBP worked is after you watched the lecture, you get a research article that you are require to read & interpret before you go to your TBL session. If you have done research and done literature reviews in your lab prior, you’ll somewhat have a leg up in this class. If you haven’t, well good luck because they go in DEEP in the course. PEBP might make or break your interest in research and journal clubs (and if it breaks you I’m sorry to say this, but according to the upperclassmen, this class will come back to bite you during your 2nd and 3rd year Patient Care classes and Skills Lab where you have Journal Club projects).
I personally had mixed feelings about the class. Since, I was one of those people who had experience prior, I thought the class was a waste of time for me; but they do have some interesting research articles that piqued my interest and kept me sane during class. Moral of the story: don’t knock it until you tried it.
Principles of Systems-Based Practice:
Systems-Based Practice (or PSBP for short) is the easiest and most straightforward class in this block. You’re basically learning about the workflow in a community and hospital pharmacy and how they similar and different from each other. You’ll also learn how to deal with/troubleshoot the insurance errors in the community pharmacy and how/why medication are priced the way they are.
Principles of Pharmacy Law & Ethics:
Law class is just as straightforward and a little denser. In this class, the atmosphere and the way the professor teach/drill the class, it’s like we are in law school instead of pharmacy school. We had to learn the Florida statues and federal laws for pharmacy. We are constantly reminded in this class that just because you don’t know that the law exist, does not mean you don’t get to avoid the consequences of said law. So please, even after the class ends, stay on top of the laws (old, new, and revised) because you never know when these laws might come back to bite you in the butt when you go out to practice.
Throughout the Semester:
Professional Practice Skills Lab 2:
The first half of the lab was about troubleshooting insurance & medication errors, properly communicating with other health professionals, and how to transfer prescriptions. The second half of the class was a hands-on version on what we did in our Patient Care class. We had our second half of our Top 200 drug exam and we had to do a huge practical exam called the OSCEs.
Personal & Professional Development 1 (cont.):
This class is a continuation from last semester. We had to do team evaluations and talk to our Career Coach about our goals and what we were going to do to achieve said goals. Near the end of the semester, we had to do a huge SOAP note exam based on what we learned in Patient Care 1 and do a national exam called the PCOA.
Conclusion: I somewhat survived my first year with some mental scarring here and there, but hopefully, summer break can help me recover from that. I’m super excited about doing my CIPPE this summer, because now I can put what I learned (especially in Block 4) into practice!