Helping Hands: Serving the undeserved communities in Columbus, Ohio

Hello everyone! My name is Rebekah Thomas, and I am finishing up my second year at the College of Pharmacy. With this post, I would like to share one of my favorite volunteer locations: Helping Hands. Helping Hands is housed in an old preschool, with a clinic open to the public every Thursday. It is organized and run by a group of outstanding individuals who recruit volunteers from various disciplines to help with their mission. The healthcare team includes physicians, pharmacists, and nurses that work collaboratively to run stations dedicated to specific tasks like blood sugar, blood pressure, and other forms of screenings.

For this post, I am going to focus on what a pharmacy student would do at Helping Hands. Upon arrival, you’ll probably notice that the rooms are color-coded, as the building was previously a preschool. The pharmacy is stationed with nursing in the Yellow room. You will first meet up and go over introductions with the other students and pharmacists on staff. Once everyone is comfortable with their responsibilities, you can begin your day. The patients are first triaged by nursing, so initial evaluations are conducted by nursing students. Once that is complete, pharmacy students are called back to confirm patient allergies and review any medication lists. We use the clinic software to add, delete, or change any medications. When talking to patients, we asses if the patient is taking their medications correctly and take note of any potential barriers. For example, if the patient is having trouble remembering to take their medications, it is our job to give them tips and suggestions to hopefully better remember. If a patient reports they have stopped taking a particular medication, our responsibility is to figure out and address any potential barriers. We can take notes for the doctor to see so that we can work together to provide the best patient care. But wait, our patient interaction does not stop there!

Once the patient has moved from the nursing and pharmacy station, they will now see the doctor. In most cases, the pharmacy student that reviewed the medication list will follow that patient through the process. We have the opportunity to sit-in while the doctor performs an examination. This is my favorite part! Many of the providers will ask you questions about medications when adjusting the patient’s regimen. Some of the questions require the use of drug information resources, so it is a great learning experience. Once the provider has decided what medications they want to start the patient on, they will print off the scripts and send the patient back to the pharmacy.

The pharmacy has a small formulary, so we can fill some of the medications in house to get the patient started. If we don’t have a medication in stock, the patient can take the prescriptions to their local pharmacy to fill. Any cost-related issues are also addressed at this time. Pharmacy students will count and label the prescriptions we do fill, but they are ultimately checked by the pharmacist and the physician. Because Helping Hands is a clinic, the prescriptions are signed off and checked by the physician instead of the pharmacist, but the pharmacist works closely with us to make sure all of our questions are answered. Once the medications are ready to be handed off to the patient, a pharmacy student will counsel the patient on not only proper administration but will explain to the patient what each medication is for.

The hands-on nature of this clinic is why this is one of my favorite volunteering sites. It is such a great experience to see how other disciplines operate when providing patient care.

Thanks for reading, and I really hope you enjoyed this blog post!

OSU Wexner Medical Center Emergency Department Intensive Rotation


Hello Everyone! My name is Rebekah Thomas, and I am a current P2 at the College of Pharmacy. I completed a rotation in the Emergency Department in the beginning of January, and I would like to share my experience with you. My background in pharmacy is primarily community, with a small amount of hospital in the mix. This was my first intensive experience in a hospital, and it was both different and exciting.

This was a 40 hours intensive rotation held over a period of 4 days. I shared this experience with one of my fellow classmates. We were paired up with a PGY2 emergency medicine resident to show us what life was like in the ED.

Our first day started with a tour of the emergency department. My preceptor showed us the divisions of the emergency room, trauma bays, MRIs/CT scanners, and pharmacy workplace. She showed us how the staff communicates via electronic workflow boards, and how they are assigned to different sections of the ED. My classmate and I met with other pharmacists, and then we began to dive into the day to day activities of an emergency department pharmacist.

Our mornings consisted of patient work ups and medication reconciliations. We sorted through patient profiles with our preceptor to identify the most pertinent information. We would first look at the reason for the patient’s visit and then look through physical exam findings, lab results, past and current conditions, and at home medications to better understand the patient’s medical status. If the patient’s at home medication list was not up to date, I would talk with the patient, update their medication list, and verify the information with their community pharmacy. Next, we would look at the medications given at the hospital and determine if they are appropriate based on the patient’s diagnosis and lab values. This allowed me to apply what I had learned in both class and lab in a real practice setting.

Throughout the rotation, our preceptor would also ask us drug information questions that required us to look through drug information resources and hospital treatment algorithms. Our goal was to assess if the prescribed therapy was appropriate or not for the diagnosis. This was a very important part of the rotation because it gave me a hands-on experience in answering drug information questions. It ultimately helped me better learn where to look for certain information in the resources I was provided.

During this rotation, I attended a trauma in which the patient was brought in by life flight. I watched how doctors, nurses, medics, technicians, and pharmacists work together to quickly asses and care for patients in critical conditions. This was amazing to witness because I was able to see how vital collaboration is to patient care.

I also spent some time with a member of the respiratory therapy (RT) team. While working with the pharmacist, I saw a broad selection of medications dispensed to patients with very different conditions. I really enjoyed spending time with RT because I learned about specific medications involved in their work such as breathing treatment medications and the use of ventilators.

This was one of my favorite experiences so far in school, and I am excited for other opportunities yet to come! I will be sharing those with you as well, so stay tuned! Have a great rest of your day!

  • Bekah

New City?

Are you moving to a new city?

Are you moving to a large city for your next four years of school? If you lived in a small town for your undergraduate education like I did, moving to a large can be both intimidating and overwhelming. Let’s be real, moving into unfamiliar territory can be scary at first, regardless of the setting. I want to assure you that this feeling will pass! Below you will find some of the steps I took to get comfortable in a new setting and ultimately enjoy my time in a new city.

I knew moving into a more urban setting would be a transition for me, so I decided to move out to Columbus a couple weeks prior to school starting with hopes of becoming more comfortable with the area. My first task was to become more familiar with my neighborhood. I did so by walking around my neighborhood to find out which stores, restaurants, etc. were close to my apartment. As a side note, I live on a high traffic street, so I felt okay going out alone. If you don’t feel safe, don’t walk alone. I then drove around town and found where my favorite stores were located. I even did a little shopping! I also took a day to walk around campus to find out where my classes, coffee shops, and food were located (because snacks and coffee are important too)!

Once you have a good understanding of your surroundings and are comfortable in your area, you can begin to look for fun things to do in and around your city! The ultimate question is what to do. If you are like me, I am always bored, but I say there is nothing to do. I soon realized that is not true, but rather I just didn’t know where to look! Living in a big city will provide you with plenty of options. There is something for everyone, and here is how to find it:

First, consult your classmates. Many of them likely grew up in the area and have a good idea of what is fun and what is not. They are the best resource for navigating night life, campus dining, restaurants, and other low key fun things (that are not well advertised) to do in the city.

Next, go to the Google and literally search “things to do in (insert city here)” and see if anything catches your eye. I love to take on the “top 10 things to do or see” in your city, as it gives me something to do in my downtime that I may have not done before. If you need some ideas, always check the basics: the zoo, aquariums, museums, parks, conservatories, botanical gardens, and seasonal activities like fairs and festivals.

Last, flex your social media skills! There are likely a ton of people in the city who have Instagram or blogs dedicated to posting the highlights of the city (good for food blogs, food trucks, hidden treasures, etc.). I 10/10 recommend following at least a few. I currently follow one of my fellow classmates food blog, and it was a game changer! I now have a list of restaurants I am dying to try and a person to ask for additional ideas.

These are just some of the strategies I used to ease my transition from a small town (with nothing around) to living in a big city where something is happening 24/7. If you would like to talk more about transitioning into a new city, don’t hesitate to reach out to me!

Staying on top of your studies while still having fun!


Hello Everyone! My name is Rebekah Thomas, and I am a P2 and pharmacy ambassador for the College of Pharmacy! I am originally from Pittsburgh, and I attended Slippery Rock University for my undergraduate degree. Outside of class, my favorite things to do are walk around the park of roses, get Condados tacos, and ride the bird scooters with my friend!

With school in full swing, I just wanted to share some of the planning and organizational tips I collected through my first year at the college. I used to have this ability to remember due dates and stay on top of my tasks in high school and undergrad, but that didn’t really work well for me in my first year of school. Pharmacy school definitely keeps you busy, and it can get overwhelming trying to remember all of the events, due dates, and project deadlines from straight memory. I connected with my peers and mentors within the college to gain some tips to how to better organize my time for school and for activities.

SO here is my approach to staying organized while in pharmacy school:

  1. Get a planner or use a calendar. I swear your life will be much better organized if you can see what is coming up.
  2. The syllabus is your best friend. The first thing I do is write down all of the assignments, quizzes, tests, and other important dates in the monthly section of my planner. These dates can be tentative but at least they are there so you can plan ahead! I even color coordinate by classes and will highlight the test dates.
  3. If you work put the dates and times in this section when ever you get your schedule!
  4. Now that you have a good idea when you have things do and when your exams are, look at the days where you may have off or free. This will sound weird but pencil in some time for yourself! The first thing students tend to forget is to include time for them self because they become so overwhelmed with school. It is very important for your well-being to add this time for yourself. By penciling it in your planner you can plan around it to ensure you get the “me” time that you need!
  5. You now have a good idea of what your month is going to look like. It is going to look like a lot but do not worry because now you can plan out when and how you will accomplish the task and turn it in on time!
  6. Once I have my month filled out the best I can, I will sit down every Sunday and fill out the pages for the upcoming week. In this section, I will write in the important dates, block out time to do assignments, and block out time to study. I found that It is very important to pencil in your study time because you may push it off (I used to be a big procrastinator on studying. Don’t do that in pharmacy school! ).
  7. After you block out time to do school work and study, you can see when you have time to do other fun activities!

This seems like a lot of work, but I assure you that it will alleviate so much stress when it comes to tackling your school work. Mastering the “work-life balance” that everyone is talking about starts out with great planning.