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Chicago State University College of Pharmacy
Clinical Pharmacy Internship Program at The University of Chicago Medicine

College Connection

by Erin L. Hermes, PS-3, SSHP President Chicago State University College of Pharmacy

This summer began the first Clinical Pharmacy Internship Program at the University of Chicago Medicine. This voluntary 6-8 week program was designed to aid in the development of strong research, clinical, administrative, and leadership skills necessary for post-graduate foundation. The Clinical Pharmacy Interns (CPIs) experienced a variety of tasks. 

The main task of the CPI was to perform medication histories in their assigned unit of the hospital. In order for the CPIs to accomplish this task, not only did we have to collect information from EPIC, the hospital’s health information system, but we had to take it a step further and interview patients and their caregivers, and/or contact their primary care physicians and pharmacies. Additionally, CPIs attended multidisciplinary rounds on their respective units in order to follow their patient’s care. This also allowed for us to provide patient counseling, shadow with patient care team professionals, and understand what it means to be a clinical pharmacist. CPIs followed up with their assigned preceptor with questions and information such as IV to PO conversion, drug-drug interactions, potential adverse drug events, renal dosing, and unnecessary medications. 

In addition to providing patient care, the CPIs were engaged in various other tasks within the department. We participated in cost savings initiatives such as medication returns and formulary management, research with residents, performing medication use evaluations, investigating drug shortage issues, and revising the departmental Curriculum Vitae. The CPIs also were involved in a hospital-wide quality assurance and improvement project, Omnicell Optimization. 

We were given the Omnicell Optimization project which consisted of two major tasks: reassignment of medications within the cabinet and removal of unused medications from the cabinet. We reassigned medications from the top of the cabinet to make space for patient-specific medications. The students collaborated with pharmacy technicians and nurses to ensure communications reached anyone using the Omnicell cabinets. Lastly, the cabinets were organized by patient room and labeled appropriately. Additionally, the CPIs were instructed to make a list of medications in each Omnicell that have not been used in the past ninety days and collaborate with the clinical pharmacist on that unit to determine if it was in the best interest to remove that medication from the Omnicell cabinet. Once approved by both the clinical pharmacists and Pharmacy Automation, the CPIs removed the unnecessary medications. The CPIs optimized over 100 Omnicell cabinets throughout the entire hospital, making a substantial difference in the day-to-day operations. 

Finally, the CPIs had the opportunity to attend various meetings relating to hospital operations, the Department of Pharmacy, a day-in-the-life as a pharmacy resident, informatics, scheduling, and administrative pharmacy. 

As a CPI now going into my P3 year, this experience was better than what I could have ever imagined. Being on rounds was an incredible learning experience. I had the opportunity to directly discuss with the preceptor or PGY1 pharmacy resident why recommendations were made, review the pertinent literature, and then review the patient’s chart to connect the whole story. This gave me the opportunity to see what clinical pharmacists do on a daily basis and expand my learning by interacting with real patient cases. The clinical pharmacist or resident would even ask me questions to ensure that I was getting an optimal experience. 

The projects within the CPI program were extremely beneficial because I experienced avenues of pharmacy that I had not even thought of previously. For example, informatics or administrative pharmacy is not a common pathway that many students consider. However, we got to experience this first hand and discover the different careers within the profession. This was beneficial in seeing the day-in-the-life of the residents and preceptors. Seeing what a resident does on a daily basis and how he/she would approach clinical issues provided me with key insight on how a post-graduate program could be. Not many students get experiences outside of community or institutional pharmacy, so being immersed in more clinical aspects of the profession was a tremendous opportunity. I would highly recommend that all students consider expanding their horizons during the pharmacy school years. ■

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