Published on September 02, 2016

On the job Rx training for college studentsOn the job Rx training for college students

What better scenario for a college student than spending the summer on Cape Cod? And, if you can work in a setting that teaches you more about your college major and future career, all the better.

Caitlyn Valerio from central New Jersey and Brendan Long of Chester, New York did just that this summer, testing out their newfound skills through a Cape Cod Healthcare internship program. Both attend Northeastern University’s School of Pharmacy in Boston and are going into their third year in September.

Through their co-op program at Northeastern, they chose to come to Cape Cod Healthcare  for their retail pharmacy experience and just finished up a summer-long internship that began in May.

Julia Bernas of Framingham, Massachusetts also arrived as an intern last Spring and attends the College of Pharmacy at Western New England University. She is a senior and will be at Cape Cod Hospital until December.

“Those who did co-op on the Cape had the best things to say about their rotation at Cape Cod Hospital,” said Long. “They said their experience was unbelievable, positive and they learned a lot.”

Pharmacists Oversee Interns

The retail pharmacy interns are overseen by Angela Medeiros, PharmD, pharmacy operations manager for Cape Cod Healthcare’s Community Pharmacy. Cape Cod Healthcare’s community pharmacies are located at Stoneman Outpatient Center in Sandwich, Fontaine Outpatient Center in Harwich and at Cape Cod Hospital.

“This is the first time we’ve had co-op students in our public pharmacies because the pharmacies are brand new,” said Medeiros. “It’s a great place for students to learn because there are so many opportunities in the hospital.”

While learning about medications and working on required projects during their rotation, the interns made some interesting observations, such as:

  • At the Stoneman and Fontaine pharmacies many of the prescriptions are for antibiotics because the patients come directly from urgent care.
  • At the hospital pharmacy, there is a wider variety of prescription medications because of inpatient discharges, ER patients and employee prescriptions.
  • Many patients come to the Stoneman pharmacy to get immunizations.
  • The ebb and flow of all three pharmacies are very different from each other. Stoneman pharmacy is busier than Fontaine. The hospital pharmacy is very busy, especially in the morning and the pharmacy team is larger at those times.
  • They’ve listened to the pharmacist explain the effects of medications, answer questions and caution patients about contraindications and learned the importance of this step.

Medeiros knows well what the hospital experience can mean to students, having done her own training at Cape Cod Hospital.

“I actually started here as a co-op student in my second year of pharmacy school 14 years ago,” she said. “I attended Northeastern University and did my very first co-op in the inpatient pharmacy at Cape Cod Hospital.”

Application and Interview Process

Students interested in the internship program go through an application and interview process. Medeiros and Peter Scarafile, PharmD, manager of Cape Cod Healthcare Pharmacy, meet with students to determine if they are the right fit for the retail pharmacy rotation.

“We typically look for someone who is self-motivated, excited about their career and will provide good service to our patients,” said Medeiros.

Over the summer, the interns have gained insight into the workings of a public pharmacy from the ground up.

The interns worked as technicians, which included logging patient information, creating patient profiles, setting up medications and labeling bottles. The pharmacist at each facility  double-checked their work.

Long said he likes retail and when patients voice their appreciation for the “small kindnesses we give them and they say thanks, it makes my day.”

While Long and Valerio headed back to college recently, Bernar will finish out her last three weeks in retail pharmacy before moving on to infectious disease.

Medeiros will complete evaluations of the interns’ work experience.

“I hope they’ve gained as much from us as we have from them, we really enjoyed having them here,” she said. “They’re so motivated and interested in their future careers and our patients really benefit from that.”

[Featured Image: L-R: Julia Bernas, Brendan Long and Caitlyn Valerio.]