ENS Marnin Alan Forman
Texas A & M University
“My duty as a JRCOSTEP was at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, MD. I worked in the Veterinary Resources Program (VRP), which is a component of the National Center for Research Resources. VRP is one of the largest biomedical research animal care and use programs within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. At VRP, a majority of my work was with the microbiology diagnostic laboratory. Dr. Theresa Lawrence served as the director of the laboratory and my JRCOSTEP preceptor. My work in the lab involved performing microbiological procedures for diagnostic, health surveillance, and environmental submissions. The diagnostic submissions were received from a wide variety of animals from the NIH campus. The procedures included processing biological specimens, performing biochemical characterizations, and testing for antimicrobial susceptibility. I also was responsible for documenting results, which are then conveyed to the presenting veterinarian.
Dr. Lawrence encouraged me to make the best use of my time by taking advantage of the numerous opportunities available to me at NIH. I observed and assisted with necropsies performed in the VRP pathology department. I attended weekly pathology slide conferences issued by the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology. I also attended training seminars on biohazard handling and laboratory animal handling and manipulations. Through the JRCOSTEP program, I was able to assist in the publication of a biweekly newsletter, as well as tour a number of facilities associated with the Public Health Service.”
Fourth-year student at Duquesne University
“For my JRCOSTEP assignment, I traveled 1,900 miles to dry, sunny El Paso, TX. I worked for the Federal Bureau of Prisons at the Federal Corrections Institution La Tuna in Anthony, TX–NM. Anthony is a small town that lies half in Texas and half in New Mexico. It is about 10 miles west of El Paso.
At La Tuna, I worked in the pharmacy under the direction of Sheila Veikune. The pharmacy is in the hospital portion of the prison and it is similar to a “caged” room. Only the tech and Sheila had keys to the pharmacy.
I worked on several projects: One was on diabetes, in which I interviewed inmates (not alone, of course!) about their understanding of their disease states, and then I presented my findings to the medical staff. I also completed a project on Lassa Fever and presented that to the medical staff. I did several self-study projects, including one on tuberculosis and one on drugs of choice for infections.
During my time there, I also helped fill prescriptions. While I was there, they received a new computer system that was Windows based, so I got to learn how wonderful it is to fill scripts on that system! I also greatly improved my patient-counseling skills. Sheila feels that all the inmates should be counseled—whether or not their prescription is a refill. Also, since many of the inmates are Spanish speaking, I counseled in Spanish, as well as in English.
Overall, I had a wonderful experience. With the help of my Mom and a wonderful church congregation in El Paso, I was able to stay with a family. The family lived in an upscale neighborhood and had a pool, maid, and gardener! The only payment they would accept was for me to house sit and watch their three dogs when they went away. They were wonderful people.
I also met many great contacts and great friends as well. The facility also had two dental PHS COSTEPS that I grew quite close to. We even took a long weekend and drove 9 hours to San Antonio! We also went to Juarez, Mexico—the “sister” Mexican town to El Paso.
The thing I miss most about El Paso by far is the great Mexican food. After living in Pennsylvania all my life, I’ve now realized that Taco Bell and Chi Chi’s don’t hold a candle to real Mexican food! What would I do for a flauta right now? Anyway, I had a wonderful summer—one that I’ll never forget!”
ENS Todd Marcy
University of Oklahoma
“My experience with the Indian Health Service (IHS) has been outstanding. I have learned how much more the pharmacist is informed and involved in the care of the patients we serve. As we are preparing prescriptions for our patients, we have their charts so that we can understand completely both the current problems and the history of the patients. We know the details of an acute problem and the progression of a chronic one. This changes our entire perspective relative to that of other pharmacy practices. We are able to make informed recommendations to the physicians about drug selection and dosing. We can also order labs, such as liver function tests, to properly monitor the patient and make recommendations as to the appropriateness of continuation of the chronic therapy.
There is a comprehensive protocol and standing orders system here as well. It allows pharmacists to prescribe medications for patients with specific disease states such as allergic rhinitis, strep throat, and many others. The pharmacists routinely check blood pressure, and every patient is counseled on every medication—new or refill—by a pharmacist or pharmacy student. The pharmacy is much more clinical and there is a significant amount of patient contact here.
Another wonderful thing about being here in Warm Springs is the opportunity to learn about the rich culture of the native people. They are very open and eager to share that culture. They encourage anyone who is interested to take part in their pow wow and other activities. Since moving into the American Indian community, I have felt welcomed by nearly everyone I have met. I have had the opportunity to attend church services here as well. They sing some of the traditional Christian songs that I grew up with in a native tongue, which is special to hear.
I have also had the opportunity to meet several IHS pharmacists. One thing I’ve noticed about them is that they are satisfied with their jobs. After working here, I understand why.”