Pharmacy interns earn job knowledge, skills while creating ... Win-win situation for pharmacy, customers

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Leticia Hopkins
  • 23rd Wing Public Affairs
On the job training not only provides local pharmacy interns valuable work experience but also aids the 23rd Medical Group with improving patient care and saving money.

At any one time there are two to four interns, who are in their last year of school toward earning their Doctorate of Pharmacy, rotating through the pharmacy.

"The interns are excellent, and the program is a life-saver because they help us incredibly," said Maj. (Dr.) Gabriel Florit, 23rd Medical Support Squadron pharmacy clinical coordinator. "It's like paying (four people $80,000 a piece) but getting it for free."

Moody maintains a contract with the Universities of Florida and Georgia and Mercer University, who send students here, said Major Florit. In the future, the pharmacy would like to have more students come through and open the program to more schools like Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, where he is an assistant professor.

While the students in training do not have to come from the same school at the same time, the four current pharmacy interns, Clare Weitz, Quyen Cai, Carla Barber and Jamaal Ross, are from the University of Florida.

Interns come with the equivalent and knowledge base of a doctor in pharmacy, so, they're an asset to have working with us, said Major Florit. The interns work the normal pharmacy hours of 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Interns are required to do 12 to 15 rotations in pharmacies prior to graduating, said Major Florit. Each rotation is at a different pharmacy, so the students can see the various work places and situations they could face after graduation.

The rotations last anywhere from four to eight weeks depending on their rotation track. Students gain experience in three main tracks: drug information services, ambulatory services and adult medicine.

During drug information, interns answer base calls, check prescriptions, answer patient prescriptions, counsel patients and perform drug regimen reviews.

"I've done a lot of multi-tasking and learning how to balance everything before I go into the real pharmacy world," said Ms. Cai, pharmacy drug information services intern. "There's a lot of interaction with the patients and healthcare professionals."

In the ambulatory services rotation, students work in the coumadin and cholesterol clinic. They also work on projects and do research.

"I like working in the cholesterol clinic a lot," said Ms. Weitz, pharmacy ambulatory care intern. "I like the fact they give pharmacists in the clinic the ability to directly affect patients in making decisions with their cholesterol medications. We can see a direct effect on how we improve their health."

As part of the adult medicine rotation, interns assist physicians and providers, building on their drug information knowledge.

"I enjoy working with a physician," said Ms. Barber, pharmacy adult medicine intern. "It's probably my favorite part. I didn't know what to expect coming to a military base, but I really like the people and all of the experiences I'm having."

While these interns are from the University of Florida, the pharmacy has a schedule of what students will be coming here for training in advance from the schools they are contracted to work with.

"(It's good to have pharmacy students intern here) because they find out we're not different from any other pharmacy," said Major Florit. "They can see what real pharmacists do and experience it.

"I've even had a couple of students demonstrate an interest in coming into the military after interning here," he added.

While joining the military may not be the choice for all of the students, they agreed that coming here has been a positive experience and they've gained a lot from being able to see the various options available for pharmacists.

"The respect and attitudes here are totally different; people are more respectful and friendly," said Mr. Ross, pharmacy ambulatory care intern. "The patient interaction (is great because you're able to) talk to patients and educate them."

In addition to students pursuing their Doctorate of Pharmacy, Moody also has an internship program with Valdosta Technical College's pharmacy technician students.

The pharmacy technician program is a five-week residency. The students provide customer service, fill prescriptions, dispense medications at the front counter, put up supplies and learn about the laws of narcotics during their rotation.