Reflections: UCSOP Summer Internship Experience

As an undergraduate looking to one day attend pharmacy school I was looking for any chance I could get to gain experience in the field of pharmacy. When the opportunity to become an intern at the University of Charleston School of Pharmacy came up I had to take it. I quickly began the application process and soon was asked to interview for the position. After two rounds of interviews I received a phone call offering me the internship, which I quickly accepted.

IMG_1618

Beautiful view of the WV State Capitol building from UC’s campus.

I moved into East Apartments in the beginning of June to begin the internship. On the first day I received a very warm welcome from the faculty and staff of the School of Pharmacy. We toured Charleston, visited the Capitol building and Cultural Center, and became oriented with our new home for the next 8 weeks.

While we received many tasks to work on for the duration of the internship, our biggest project for the month of June was to serve as Head Counselors of the ExRx: Experience Pharmacy Summer Bootcamp. The camp was a week-long experience for high schoolers and undergraduates who were interested in pharmacy school. We spent the weeks leading up to the camp planning events, setting up activities, and preparing for the arrival of the students to the dorms. While we were leading the activities, we also got to immerse ourselves into the curriculum and learn about pharmacy school as well. After the camp ended we were invited to attend two School of Pharmacy alumni events; Blues Brews and BBQ, and Wine and all that Jazz. While the week of camp was long, we learned so much about UCSOP as well as meeting current students and alumni of UCSOP.

IMG_5692

Killian Rodgers, summer intern, and I volunteered at the animal shelter giving medication to dogs.

Throughout the month of July we got to work very closely with a P4 student who was on rotation with UCSOP administration. We also got the opportunity to work in the research lab under Dr. Linger. We spent the week assisting her running diagnostic tests, purifying proteins, and preparing a poster presentation. Also in the month of July we were able to shadow Dr. Juengel from UCSOP at WV Health Right. Both experiences allowed us to see different sides of pharmacy, and different paths we could take with a PharmD. Throughout the month we also volunteered at the local animal shelter and the health department. Both volunteer experiences served to broaden our horizons on what can be done with a PharmD, as well as giving us a sense of community and communication skills that are often used in pharmacy school.
Overall the experience allowed me to become even more excited about one day obtaining my PharmD. I got to experience several different paths of pharmacy that I didn’t know existed and I made connections with pharmacists and administrators that are invaluable. The eight weeks flew by as I grew to love Charleston more every day. To anyone who is currently and undergraduate and looking to attend pharmacy school this internship is a great way to further develop skills and experience that will be so useful when it comes time to apply!

UCSOP Works with National Youth Science Camp

Since its start in 1963 West Virginia’s National Youth Science Camp has been encouraging recent high school graduates to pursue further education in the science field. Two students from each state are chosen to attend the month long camp that is centered at Camp Pocahontas in Bartow, West Virginia. This year the campers kicked off their journey by visiting the University of Charleston School of Pharmacy. Over 100 students arrived on campus the morning of June 16th and were welcomed by Dr. Paul Hill, the chancellor of West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission. Dr. Hill spoke about the history of the National Youth Science Camp as well as his involvement as the CEO of the U.S Chemical Safety Board. The camp encourages students to take STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) classes and become more involved in the science field in their future studies. After the morning lecture the campers toured UCSOP and engaged in interactive sessions in the sterile IV and compounding laboratories.

Following the opening of the camp at UC the students traveled to Camp Pocahontas to begin their month long adventure. Their schedules for a typical day were full, beginning at 7:00am each day and ending around 11:00pm. The students experienced many guest lectures on varying topics from developments in cancer treatments to studies in foreign language in the medical fields. In addition to lectures, students had the opportunity to engage further into the sciences with hands on activities proctored by guest scientists of varying fields. Dr. Rebecca Linger, a professor at UCSOP, and P2 student Rachel Peaytt, traveled to the camp Sunday June 26th to conduct a week-long directed study block for the students. Their program was entitled Assaying Antioxidant Content of Medicinal Plants. Beginning the multi-day process Dr. Linger led the campers on a medicinal plant walk in search of plant samples. The samples were spectrophotmetrically tested for flavonoid content, giving the students an opportunity to see chemical interactions through color changes. The students were given the opportunity to learn about medicinal plants, as well as gain experience in plant material extraction and assay.

While the students developed their interests in science they also developed outdoor leadership through the camp. The campers participated in various outdoor activities including camping, hiking, kayaking, rock climbing, and mountain biking. With several overnight camping adventures, the students got to explore much of the beautiful West Virginia scenery including Canaan Valley and the Cranberry Glades. The students also got to spend time exploring the science behind telescopes and space exploration at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Green Bank, West Virginia.

Through the many hands-on activities, guest lectures, and outdoor activities the students developed a sense of what’s going on in the science community. This camp allows students to grow or develop their interest in science, while encouraging them to pursue their careers and continue their education. Dr. Linger and Rachel thoroughly enjoyed their experience with their involvement in the camp, and hope to continue building a relationship between UCSOP and the National Youth Science Camp.

UCSOP ExRx Bootcamp a Success!

Clflms3XIAAkUHv

High school students make ointment in the compounding lab

From June 21st through the 24th the halls of UCSOP looked very different with almost 30 high school and undergraduate students here for the 3rd annual ExRx- Experience Pharmacy Summer Bootcamp. These students were formally here to learn about UC and the profession of pharmacy as a whole but also to do what anyone at a camp wants to do- have fun! Favorite activities included compounding camphor-menthol ointment in the compounding lab with Mr. Ramirez, preparing sterile IVs with Dr. Embrey and Ms. Condee, and a photo scavenger hunt around campus which turned into a fierce competition to find as many UC Golden Eagles as possible. (The winning team, The Green Circle Group ultimately found 28!)

Campers came from all over the country. While a majority came from West Virginia we had people come all the way from New York, Florida, and numerous other states to participate. In addition to the hands on experiences, campers also got a feel for the more didactic classroom based portions of the Pharm D. program through sessions on the history of pharmacy, ethics, and the APhA Career Pathways program.

One particularly exciting session was Dr. Radhakrishnan’s lecture “The Travelogue of a Tablet” which covered the journey of tablet from mouth to active site to excretion. Campers enjoyed being in the “facilities and us[ing] resources that current pharmacy students get to use” while getting a lecture from a professor they very well may have if they come to UCSOP.

Screen Shot 2016-06-28 at 11.49.19 AM

Students work with a mannequin in the simulation lab

Ultimately, the success of a program like this is the impact it has on the students. One student even went so far as to say they had “been to few camps and things about pharmacy and [in] the few short days here…learned more then any other place as well had more fun. So [they] would highly recommend this to anyone for the fact of all th [sic] info …[and] how fun it was.” A focus of UCSOP and in turn a focus of the camp was on promoting rural health. Students were exposed to the unique challenges of rural health pharmacists by interacting with some and hearing about their experiences. As a result, 75% indicated after the camp that they are interested in serving rural populations.

While this extended four day ExRx program is only offered once per summer, UCSOP has shorter ExRx open house events on campus throughout the school year. Check out this link for more information.

Each group of campers led by a P2 Fellow created a short video to capture their camp experience. Check them out below to see what each group was up to!

The Silver Star Group led by Kathryn Howerton

The Pink Circle Group led by Rachel Peaytt

Squad Red Stars led by Kyle Theiss

The Gold Star Group led by Blanche Ndifon

The Blue Star Group led by Leila Fleming

The Green Circle Group led by Amber Gross

(Cirlce groups are high school students and star groups are current undergraduate students)

Be sure to look out for information about ExRx 2017 next Spring on the UCSOP website this fall!