OPA Rotation Experience: A Lesson in Reality
Chester Kaczor, Pharm.D. Candidate, Ohio Northern University, and OPA Extern
After nearing completion of six years of pharmacy school, including seven rotations with only two more separating me from my Pharm.D. degree, I thought I was ready to be a pharmacist. Then I started this rotation at OPA.
OPA is a unique rotation site in that while you do not pour through patient profiles, drown yourself in current guidelines, or physically dispense prescriptions, you engage in so many other activities that would otherwise go unnoticed. Day one of this rotation, I walked through the door, met my preceptor, Amy Bennett, R.Ph., and was given directions to the Statehouse all within five minutes. That day I watched as GlaxoSmithKline put on a press conference announcing new results of a compliance study. I also watched as OPA Executive Director Ernie Boyd did his best to make sure the interests of pharmacists were realized during and after the press conference. Of the 11,000 practicing pharmacists in the State of Ohio, few knew of this press conference and only one came to that press conference, also by the name of Ernie Boyd.
Part of my education at Ohio Northern University dealt with pharmacy administration and developing business models, yet I did not fully appreciate pharmacy as a business until beginning this rotation. I, like many other young graduating pharmacists, was more concerned with the clinical side of pharmacy than the business side. Dispensing fees, AWPs, and WACs did not mean much to me. However, after looking at dwindling profit margins and learning of several independent pharmacies closing their doors because of lack of profitability, I gained a new appreciation for the business side of pharmacy. The bottom line is your pharmacy's bottom line. If pharmacy does not remain a profitable profession, salaries will rapidly diminish. This is yet another lesson in reality learned at OPA.
Also, as a student, I never gave enough credence to how one person can create change. I thought of strength in numbers. However, during this rotation, I was given the opportunity to testify before the Ohio House Health Committee regarding changes to the Pharmacy Practice Act, speaking specifically in favor of allowing pharmacy interns to administer vaccines to persons age 18 and older under the supervision of a licensed, trained pharmacist. Though I represented only my own opinions on this matter, I was also the only pharmacy student to testify. Through this experience, I learned that one person can affect change when his/her voice is heard in the right settings. I highly encourage anybody who is passionate about any current legislative issues to contact the staff here at OPA. You, too, can also affect change.
Part of the rotation focuses on community involvement. I was given the opportunity to create a presentation about inhalant abuse, describing what it is, who does it, what it does to you, and how to avoid it. This presentation was given to two classes of sixth grade students, all of whom have very bright futures awaiting them. The lesson in reality for me during this task was to create a lesson in reality. Learning more about this issue and teaching today's youth was an invaluable experience, and is extremely rewarding.
Each of the rotations that Pharm.D. candidates complete are valuable, and completing nine different experiences allows students to obtain a more comprehensive education. Rotations like the one here at OPA allow students to think about pharmacy as a profession from different perspectives. I learned how to create change, teach today's youth, and about professional representation, lessons in reality which will ultimately allow me to be a better pharmacist.