Common Pharmacy Myths – Debunked

The Princesses of Professional School Blog (1)

Hi all!

Today, I wanted to write about some of the most common pharmacy-related myths that I’ve heard. With some of these myths, you may already know the truth, but for others, maybe you might learn something new!

“All a pharmacist does is count pills all day.”

False, false, false, and more false. You may often only see a pharmacist counting pills day in and day out, but that is certainly not the extent of their daily duties. Especially now. Health care is changing at a very rapid rate, and the pharmacists’ role is changing and expanding with it. Pharmacists today must receive prescriptions over the phone from the doctor, verify every single prescription after it is filled before it is handed off to the patient, spend hours each day on the phone with various insurance companies, counsel patients on new medications, offer over-the-counter recommendations for patients who seek their help, give immunizations, preform blood pressure checks and other various physical assessments, and on top of all that, do anything and everything else that the other pharmacy staff is not able to do.

 “Brand name medications work better than their generic form.”

Actually, generic medications work just as well as the brand name ones do. Some medications do not have a generic form, and therefore, the brand name must be dispensed. Some patients request the brand name medication, even if there is a cheaper, generic form available. This is due to a variety of reasons, but largely due to the misconception that brand name drugs provide a better response. Before a generic drug is even allowed to appear on the market, the FDA must prove that the medication is identical in chemical identity, strength, quality, potency, and purity to the brand name counterpart. I have heard the complaint that some generic drugs produce some unwanted side effects, while the brand name doesn’t. This is not due in part to anything about the active drug – this could have something to do with one of the inactive drug components or fillers present in the medication.

“Vitamins and other natural supplements are safe to take.”

The majority of the products in the vitamin and supplement aisle are actually not approved by the FDA, nor do they have to be. Some brands of products opt to participate in a voluntary quality assurance program by the USP (United States Pharmacopeia), where the supplements undergo very rigorous testing standards. Brands that do participate in this program are NatureMade, Kirkland Signature (Costco brand), TruNature, and others. With this verification, the USP has concluded that the product inside the bottle is what the label says it is – the correct amount of supplement in each tablet or capsule and has been manufactured under safe and sanitary conditions. Look for the USP verified mark on the bottle, which looks like THIS.

It is also important to mention that vitamins and supplements have the potential to interact with the prescription medications that you take. It is important to inform your doctor or pharmacist of the natural products that you regularly take, in order to prevent any harmful effects.

“It’s okay to share my prescription medication with a loved one if they have the same condition or symptoms as I do.”

This is never okay. Doctors prescribe specific medications at specific strengths, personalized for your specific condition or illness. Although someone may have the same symptoms as you do – you may even have 100% certainty that you know what ails them – giving them a prescription medication that was meant for you may have a negative impact on them. The other person may have a medication allergy that you don’t know about. They may be taking a medication or supplement that has a serious interaction with the drug you are offering to share with them. So, just don’t give someone else your prescriptions. It can do more harm than good.

“I don’t feel any different when I take my medication, therefore it’s not important for me to take it every day.”

Surprisingly, this is something that patients often say. Not all medications will make you feel differently, but that does not mean that they are not working. Always take your medication as instructed, unless your doctor tells you otherwise. For example, it is important to always take your blood pressure or cholesterol medication so that those conditions do not get any worse – but you more than likely will not notice any changes in the way you feel while taking them.

“The bathroom cabinet is the safest place for my medication to be stored.”

We’ve all seen the medicine cabinet in the bathroom. We think this is the safest place to keep medications away from small children or pets. We think this is the most convenient place to store them, because it’s easier to remember to take them when they are in the room where we begin and end our days. In reality, the bathroom storage cabinet may not be safe at all. Hot steam from the shower can actually decrease your medication’s efficacy, meaning they may not work the way they are supposed to if they are not kept in the correct temperature conditions. Instead, keep medication in a kitchen pantry or cabinet, or maybe on a night table.

“Taking birth control pills and antibiotics together will reduce the birth control’s efficacy.”

Common misconception. There is only one antibiotic that renders the pill to be less effective, and this is rifampin.

“Everyone who works in a pharmacy is qualified to answer my questions.”

There are many different employees that work behind a pharmacy counter – pharmacy interns who are in pharmacy school, pharmacy technicians who have completed a certification program to work in a pharmacy, and of course the pharmacist. I would advise against asking just anyone behind the pharmacy counter about your medication questions. The most trusted source is the pharmacist, for all questions. I have personally seen some pharmacy technicians trying to answer questions way out of their realm of knowledge, and sending patients away with false information and wrong recommendations. This is not to say that all pharmacy technicians don’t know what they are talking about – this isn’t true at all. Just be wary of who you are getting information from, and if you need further information or clarification, don’t hesitate to ask the pharmacist. It is your health, or your loved one’s health we are talking about here!

Thanks for reading! I hope I was able to pass some useful information along to our readers!

Until next time,

:)Lauren

 

10 More Things I Learned in my First Year of Medical School

Hello everyone! I have finally emerged from my cocoon of studying for my last few exams and practicals of the year. So I thought it would be the best time to share with you a few more things I’ve learned this past year (Go here for some more things I learned in med school). Soooooo without further ado, let’s get this party started!

1. You’re white coat isn’t so white anymore.

This has two parts to it. Metaphorically, wearing a white coat isn’t as big of a deal as when you first put it on during your white coat ceremony. I don’t mean to sound jaded or pretentious, but it becomes very routine to throw on your jacket when you are interacting with patients or in the clinic. No matter what, however, when you put that coat on, you will still get that sense of excitement and privilege that comes with being a medical student. And second, you coat is going to get dirty, literally. You should probably go clean out your pockets from all your pens, paper and note cards then drop it off at the dry cleaners.

2. Failure is mandatory.

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During orientation week, our dean of student affairs told us that they have designed our curriculum and overall medical school experience so that we will inevitably fail. Of course the room full of over-achievers looked around obviously thinking that this was a lie trying to scare us into doing better. Honestly, he was telling the absolute truth.I don’t know a single person in my class that has not failed at something this year, myself included. But it happens and it only makes you a stronger, more dedicated student.

3. You never know as much as you want or need to.

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There will assuredly be times where you studied for an exam more than you ever have the entire year. Going to bed the night before the test, you think to yourself, “Man, I really might get a perfect score on this!” Then you start your test the next morning and BAM a random question so obscure that you are positive the professor barely mentioned it (if at all) in 5 seconds of a 2 hour lecture. But this is not a bad thing in the least! It just pushes you to keep studying harder for each exam and continue trying for that perfect score!

4. You’ll know yourself better than you ever did before.

Med school changes your life– plain and simple. You are in a new environment with new people with a million and five tons of stress dumped on top. This forces you to really find out who you are so that you can prioritize who and what are most important to you in your life.

5. You gain a new found appreciation for free time.

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Every weekend that you don’t have to study for an exam feels like a mini-vacation. If you can spare a couple of hours during the week to go to a bar with some friends, you feel accomplished. God bless you if you could binge watch a show in a week.

6. You long for more clinical/patient experiences.

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First and second year are all about the book learning. This can get very boring (obviously) and you just wish you could start seeing some patients already or help out with some cool medical procedures. Actual doctoring just seems so far away at this point in medical school that the few shadowing experiences you get seem magical and you just want to absorb as much as you can. Just keep reminding yourself that in just a year’s time, you’ll be a third year with nothing else but clinical stuff to do, so don’t jump the gun too quick!

7. You and your fellow classmates will unite through the trials and tribulations.

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Your class will become your family, plain and simple. It’s hard not to grow close to people who go through the same stress, anxiety and general insanity that is medical school. You can’t make it through medical school alone.

8. Friends and family will ask you for medical advice ALL THE TIME.

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This actually isn’t entirely terrible, especially as a first year med student when normally no one at school would fathom asking you for medical advice. It gives you a safe environment to practice you clinical reasoning without feeling the pressure of diagnosing someone incorrectly. The bad part (which happens A LOT since you are a first year med student) is that you have absolutely no idea what is wrong with your friend/family member so you just give the go-to answer of, “Yeah, I’d probably go get that checked out by a real doctor.”

9. Step 1 anxiety is real– even when it’s a year away.

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Please don’t remind me of the 10 months and 10 days I have left until I have to take Step 1. I’m trying to have a good last summer here.

10. You will look back on how far you’ve come in such a short period of time and be incredibly proud.

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When you finish your last exam of the year and walk outside of the classroom, it just all feels so… surreal and intangible. It feels like you just started med school and yet a year has flown by so quickly. You know that you’re a second year now, but it’s just hard to believe. But you know that what you have accomplished this year was incredible and rewarding and you cannot wait to get back to school in a few months to keep learning more (for the most part).

Honorable mention: you get used to the smell of formaldehyde-laden cadavers (well, sort of).

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This past year has been a true whirlwind for me. I don’t think I’ve ever had to deal with so many ups and downs, both school and personal than I have this past year. It’s made me a better person and, hopefully, a better physician in the future.  Med school was just what I anticipated but also completely different than I could have ever imagined. It for sure was not as difficult as others may say, but that does not mean in any way that it was easy. And even through everything, I can honestly say without a doubt that had one of the absolute best years of my life.

I’ll write a post in a few days or so about the research I’m doing for my last summer, so keep an eye out for that!

Until then, ❤ Theresa

Professional Fraternities – Do I Join?

Hi everyone!

Today, I wanted to touch on the subject of professional fraternities and what they’re all about. I was presented with the opportunity to join a professional pharmaceutical fraternity in my second semester of my P1 year. It actually was a real challenge for me, deciding on whether I should pledge one of our fraternities or not. I wanted the friends, I wanted the networking opportunities, and I wanted the chance to make a difference in the fraternity’s chosen philanthropy. On the negative side, I didn’t know what pledging actually entailed, I didn’t want a boatload of extra work, I didn’t want my bid to be rejected for my chosen fraternity, and I certainly didn’t want to be hazed. What was a girl to do?! All of these decisions and all this stress on top of everything else I had going on with school…

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Long story short, I did end up pledging a fraternity, and became a full fledged member before the semester was over. The honest truth? The meetings and the extra work were definitely time consuming, some of the pledging requirements were difficult to complete, it was expensive, and of course the process start to finish was filled with anxiety-ridden moments that I can’t even share with you due to the nature of the fraternity.

All in all, though, pledging a professional fraternity is a good idea in my opinion.

If you are wondering if this is the right extracurricular to get involved in, I encourage you to think about a few things – Does the fraternity have a philanthropy that you care about? Do you have the money to pledge right now? Do you plan on being active for the following years of schooling or was this just a temporary venture to put on your CV? Are the people in the fraternity people you don’t mind spending a lot of time around? Will you take advantage of everything that the fraternity has to offer, such as regional conferences, volunteering events, leadership workshops, and career networking opportunities?

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When deciding between fraternities, or just deciding to pledge a fraternity in general, think about those things. Once you pledge one fraternity, you can’t pledge another professional one. Take the decision seriously. Do your research before you make any big decisions. Take the time to talk to fraternity members to get a feel of what the culture is like once you make it in. You don’t want to devote all of your time, money, and efforts getting into a fraternity, and finding out it’s not what you expected or wanted it to be. This is not only a chance to make new friends, it is also a chance to grow professionally.

Till next time,

:)Lauren