My first successful remote rotation
Michelle Chin is a final-year PharmD Candidate at the St. John’s University College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences and a member of the 2021–22 APhA–ASP Communications Standing Committee.
The last year of study in pharmacy school provides an opportunity to explore different career pathways through various core and elective externships. I had been looking forward to this moment for the past 5 years, eager to use my schooling and understanding of pharmacology to improve patient health and quality of life. I was also awaiting the opportunity to put on a new business outfit and proudly don my lab coat. Instead, this past May, I found myself smiling in front of my laptop at home.
Understanding community culture
My first rotation was at Northwell Health, a large, urban hospital in Great Neck, NY. Although the pandemic had changed my plans, I was determined to make the virtual experience a positive one. Being assigned to a virtual rotation was a surprise because many institutions have already reopened their clinical programs during this phase of the pandemic. Nevertheless, not long after the start of my rotation, I came to understand the community culture at Northwell Health based on the meetings I attended and the phone conversations I had with patients.
Through my participation in telemedicine, I heard patients’ stories and learned about their backgrounds as I referenced their medical records. Knowing these situations helped me understand the reasons behind the different medication assignments. I evaluated their medication therapy, thinking critically about why a patient was on Drug A but not Drug B, why a medicine was discontinued, and so on during these patient interactions.
Prepared for future rotations
This rotation reinforced my understanding of medicine and health care practices. I dissected clinical guidelines, prepared for presentations, wrote about current events in medication therapy, and attended meetings about important current topics in medicine. One of the topics covered in my rotation was the application of health equity and the social determinants of health to clinical practices. It was evident that more inclusive approaches are necessary to decrease the cost and improve the quality of health care in the United States. Acknowledging the external factors—economic, educational, environmental, and social circumstances—that affect health is a first step to attaining these outcomes because these external factors play a role in a patient’s medication therapy and management. Through engaging in several simulations and activities that involved real patients, the magnitude of the problem stood out to me clearly. Being a health care provider requires recognition of and response to the factors causing health disparities.
This experience prepared me for future rotations as I now better understand the role of the pharmacist in health care. I would like to thank my preceptor, Christine Chim, PharmD, for a great first experience!