Home Alumni Summer internships help pharmacy students gain key skills

Summer internships help pharmacy students gain key skills

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Kathryn McDonald, right, gathers with preceptor Kristen McKibban, director of Pharmacy at Medicap, Megan Friedrich, Medicap-GRX pharmacist and Drake professor and other Drake interns.
Seven pharmacy students are getting first-hand experience this summer at various retail and chain pharmacies — from the Midwest to the East Coast — as part of two new internship programs at Drake.

Three students are working at independent pharmacies as part of a program supported by McKesson Corp. and Pharmacists Mutual Insurance Co. They are:
  • Robin Frohardt, P2, of Sac City, Iowa — NuCara in Nevada, Iowa

  • Kathryn McDonald, P2, of Littleton, Colo. — Medicap GRX in West Des Moines, Iowa

  • Travis Gau, P1, of Robbinsdale, Minn. — Medicap in Urbandale, Iowa
“Everyone here takes pride in teaching student pharmacists, rotation students, residents and interns,” Gau said. “The philosophy here is to provide the best opportunities and environment possible for their patients and their staff.”

The other four students are working at internships with chain pharmacies as part of a program funded by a grant from the NACDS. They are:
  • Tim Humlicek, P2, of Colombia, Mo. — Kerr Drug in North Carolina

  • Jennifer Hidding, P2, of Victoria, Minn. — Snyders in Minneapolis

  • Victoria Erxleben, P2, of Arlington Heights, Ill. — SuperValu in Chicago

  • Dorothy Chrzaszcz, P2, of Mount Prospect, Ill. — Walgreens in Des Moines
Students, who have a pharmacist mentor at each location, are responsible for a wide array of duties. Some include: giving health screenings, handling prescriptions, counseling clients, developing programs, engaging in research, working with legislators and lobbyists and contributing to newsletters.

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Victoria Erxleben and the SuperValu Pharmacy team gather for a photo.
“My internship is giving me great experiences in the pharmacy with interacting with patients and helping them determine their self-care and counseling them on prescriptions,” Erxleben said. “I am learning a lot about being the patient-focused pharmacist I hope to be.”  

McDonald and Hidding said the opportunity to interact with clients coupled with learning how the pharmacy business works is invaluable.

“The entrepreneurial nature of this internship is teaching me valuable business skills while still incorporating the patient care services that I am passionate about,” McDonald stated.

“I’ve learned to consider how pharmacy is a business and even if I do not work in the corporate setting, I still need to understand how to run the business in order to be a well-rounded, valuable pharmacist to my future employer,” Hidding added.

For some students, like Chrzaszcz, the internship is a great tool for developing leadership skills. 

“Through watching other professionals, I understand which characteristics and skills I would like to develop as an effective leader,” she said. 

Students participate in professional development

Patient care, business skills, entrepreneurship and leadership are just some of the skills students are gaining during their internships. The student interns are also encouraged to attend professional and community activities and events with their mentors.

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Front Row: Tori Erxleben, Robin Frohardt and P3 pharmacy students Ben Urick, Emily Lentz; Second Row: Andrew Roberts,P3, Jennifer Lose, P4, and IPA Executive Director Tom Temple.
Five of the seven students attended the annual Iowa Pharmacy Association meeting held June 19-21 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. 

“It was exciting to watch and hear about how pharmacy is taking charge of making a difference in the political health care reform arena,” Hidding said.

“I’m excited and empowered that I’m a part of a fantastic profession that above everything else desires what is best for our patients. This weekend and internship are causing me to reaffirm my commitment to becoming the best pharmacist I can be as well as working with the rest of my colleagues to help move us forward by active participation.”

Humlicek, who traveled the farthest for his internship, was surprised that he is doing more challenging work than simply filling prescriptions. 

“I’ve spent all my time working on Medication Therapy Management (MTM) for Kerr Drug’s patients,” said Humlicek, whose internship is located in a fast-growing area by Greensboro and Winston-Salem in one of the nation’s fastest growing states.  

“My experience with Kerr Drug has been absolutely positive.”

For more information about the internship programs, contact Renae Chesnut at renae.chesnut@drake.edu or 515-271-3018.