This page aspires to hold links, references, resources and anecdotes regarding my official career, that of a pharmacist.

I am a Walgreens Pharmacist.  I work overnights in downtown Phoenix at a newly remodeled Well Experience store. The job affords me every other week off, very helpful for writing my novels and traveling.

I've previously worked for Walgreens as a technician, intern, market scheduler, and various other odd jobs since 2001 and have come back to the Phoenix, Arizona area to continue on as a pharmacist.  I renewed my pharmacist license for the first time as of September 2012, marking a year into my career.

I am an alumni of the inaugural class of the University of Hawaii College of Pharmacy - graduated in May 2011!

An Email About UHH-CoP:
Someone asked me just recently whether they should go to pharmacy school in Hilo or somewhere in Oregon.  I had an incredibly long-winded answer that I thought I'd post here just in case I want to say all that again sometime.  

Hey (redacted), congratulations on getting accepted!!  The one thing I can tell you right now is that you will not be able to get the experience of UH Hilo anywhere else!  (Incoming NOVEL ahead!)

I can imagine a town in Oregon is very similar to Olympia, and you'll likely do all your professional experience at places similar to where you'll end up working once you graduate.  This will be useful perhaps but dull.  I'm not sure how the staff at that school is, how established it is, etc, but I can definitely tell you about UHHCoP

Practical Experience: 

It is a new school, as you pointed out.  We've heard (far too many times) that we're trail blazers, and things aren't all laid out for us like well established schools.  There was no upper class (for us) to ask about which elective is good, which isn't, which rotation site is good, which is to be avoided, and how to study for exams.  We just showed up and found out on the spot.  We had some luck with this, since there was only one class for the staff to deal with, they had plenty of time to guide us when we needed it.

    But, the experiences for pharmacy practice on the big island of Hawaii are a bit limited.  The hospital there (Hilo Medical Center) is responsible for the introductory experiences for all the CoP students, and it's a bit... well... tiny.  For retail, you'll go to Longs (CVS now), Walmart or Safeway maybe, or an independent.  For the first year, you're just getting started learning what's what and these simple choices are pretty much fine for the basics.  The second year, after getting our intro to hospital and retail, we got Clinic and Long Term Care.  There are plenty of old people in Hawaii, but there are not many clinics.  Heck, there are not many doctors.  I wound up road-tripping across the island once per week to go to clinic in Ka'u, but the Long Term Care was local.  Both were decent experiences I suppose, but you just don't see a ton of crazy cases in rural Hawaii.  It's mostly people showing up for a flu shot or to change their dose of blood pressure med.  

Third year did the rotation bit a different way, instead of one day a week somewhere, we went for a two week block somewhere during summer break.  I went to Maui.  Some folks went to the mainland.  Some folks went to other hawaiian islands, Oahu, Kauai, some stayed on the big island.  This was pretty neat, but all expenses to get where I were going and stay were paid by yours truly.  

For Fourth year (aka now), the entire chain of Hawaiian islands runs out of experiential places for us.  I'm currently in Illinois, for example.  You can easily set up rotation sites (with enough notice) for your fourth year in WA, or wherever else you like.  There are also unique experiential sites like Saipan (which I went on and would recommend if you're adventurous), Guam, Samoa, Alaska, etc that are called "Outreach" where we fulfill our mission statement of providing healthcare to under served areas of the Pacific.  These sites are as good as the preceptor.  UHH has some staff set up at the big hospitals and clinics on Oahu, Maui, and the Big Island.  Everywhere else, it's the same experience a student from an established mainland school would get.  You might even bump into some mainland students depending where you are.  


Our professors are just as qualified as professors elsewhere.  Our dean is Dr. Pezzuto who was previously the dean of Perdue.  We have top-tier staff from great schools like Perdue, Midwestern, etc.  We also have some amazing new staff who came out here for the unique experiences in research (natural product discovery) and such things.  If you are a teacher at UHH-CoP -- you love your job, or you leave.  The island really isn't so amazing to keep people here who don't really care to teach the "trailblazers" and continue to form our new (awesome) school.  I have had no complaints about any of the classwork, though we "accidentally" had a horrific semester with no fluff classes just because we were first.  The other classes to come have had the benefit of our trial/error.  You'll be the 5th class, we have revised and revised again, you'll be fine.  And since you're the 5th class, you'll be starting on day one in an accredited College (thanks to us ;) 

The big island:

What kind of a person are you?  Do you surf, swim, hike?  Do you like rain?  Do you need A/C to survive?  Hilo is a rain forest, plain and simple.  There are some amazingly beautiful sites to see and in three years, you can pretty much see them all.  There are volcanoes with flowing lava that you can sometimes walk right up to and poke with a stick.  There are huge sweeping plains with cattle ranches.  Travel two-three hours to the Kona side and there are picturesque sandy beaches with huge resorts (that are fun to sneak into and use the facilities of on your weekends).  

But Hilo... isn't much.  There's a safeway and a walmart, but that's about the extent of familiar things you'll see.  The mall is tiny with short hours.  Everything closes early.  Not much is open on Sundays.  The movie theater in the mall is super tiny and doesn't show very many movies.  Your apartment will probably not have air conditioning.  It will be humid.  Very humid.  You'll never have dry skin but you might feel a bit greasy and sweaty by noon every day.  It will be rainy!  Sometimes it will rain harder than your shower does.  Sometimes it will be super hot, sunny, and miserable without the A/C.  Sometimes you'll be freezing since your windows don't close properly (google 'louvers') and it's rainy and cold outside.  

And most of the time you'll be wishing you could get off the island.  


The cost of living in Hawaii is super high.  A loaf of wonder bread will cost you $5 and milk is about $7 a gallon.  Your apartment will cost you probably around $1,000/month for not much at all.  Shipping your car is probably a good idea, which will cost you about $1,000 from WA and will resell excellently since Hawaii has a shortage of non-rusted cars.  (I sold my '92 civic for $2,000 before leaving).  Commuting to and from school will be virtually 0 miles if you live in town, but gas is a bit pricier if you're planning Kona road trips every weekend it's something to think about.    If you want to travel to the other islands on weekends (which sounds very appealing when you're thinking about it) you have to budget for it.  This adds up more than I thought it would and I didn't make too many (any?) trips (with money crises and studying for exams).  Flying home costs $$$.  Will you be wanting to see your family? Work weekends?  Hilo the town is pretty saturated with pharmacy interns at this point.  You might have some better circumstances if your husband can find a job there.  We also have many scholarship opportunities just like other colleges that are open to you.  Many of them are for Hawaii locals but I managed to snag two from being on the Dean's list, having professional experience, and writing good applications.  


Would I do it again, knowing what I know now?  Absolutely.  And you'll probably have a better time of it than me, with the growing and improving of the college over the last four years.  Did we complain as we struggled through the roadbumps?  Yes.  Looking back though, just like looking back at childhood or a past love, it all looks good from here!  

Hawaii is just a bit different from the Mainland.  For me, this was a bonus to be able to really, really get a feel for it.  Appreciate it.  Enjoy peoples' pidgin accent and different way of looking at life.  Laid back. Da kine.  All that stuff.  Watch Lilo and Stitch, it's kind of like that but with more Diabetes.  

As you can probably tell by now, I like to type stuff, so please ask for more details on any bit you like.  Ask me about certain teachers or certain classes.  Ask me anything.  You however have a second choice.  It was my only interview and my only acceptance, so it was my only choice, but it was a good one.