How I Spent My Summer: New Culture, New Responsibility for Bolina in Arizona

Jasleen Bolina in Arizona

June 27, 2016

By Sarah Russell

AUBURN, Alabama – The role of a pharmacist is an ever-changing one with pharmacists stepping out from behind the counter and getting more involved in the health care outcomes of their patients. Jasleen Bolina, a rising third-year Harrison School of Pharmacy student from Newnan, Georgia, is experiencing that firsthand this summer through an internship in Arizona.

Bolina has taken her skills and passion westward to a Navajo reservation in Red Mesa, Arizona, where she is working for the Indian Health Service under the United States Department of Health and Human Services. She is one of 50 pharmacy students who were selected for the Junior Commissioned Officer Student Training and Extern Program (JRCOSTEP) program with the United States Public Health Service.

Her main projects are counseling on management of disease states, such as diabetes; medication reconciliation in the clinic; and creating a medication therapy management (MTM) program for the pharmacy.

“In the pharmacy, I spend most of my day in a counseling room dispensing medications,” Bolina explained. “But dispensing is done a little differently here than your typical pharmacy. Every patient that comes into the pharmacy has to see a pharmacist or intern so that they can be counseled on their medications—even on refills.”

The pharmacy isn’t just a simple dispensary for the locals’ medications; it serves to help patients understand their medications so they get the best care and outcomes possible.

“It is very important to us that every patient understands what their prescriptions are for and gain the most benefit out of them,” said Bolina.

The Indian Health Service provides healthcare for American Indians and Alaska Natives at Four Corners Regional Health Center, where Bolina is spending her summer. It provides comprehensive care in nearly all areas to the residents on the Navajo reservation.

“Four Corners Regional Health Center combines pharmacy, ambulatory care, urgent care, physical therapy, mental health, optometry and dentistry all in one building,” Bolina said. “The clinic is also very convenient for many patients in the area because many of them would have to drive over an hour to get seen if the clinic did not exist.”

Because of HSOP’s emphasis on patient care and interdisciplinary work, serving at an all-inclusive medical center helps put Bolina’s pharmacy education to practice.

“With how the clinic is set up, the pharmacists and physicians are able to work together very closely to provide the best care possible for their patients,” she said. “Pharmacists are able to issue verbal orders, under the guidance of physicians, for prescription refills should a patient need them for their maintenance medications. Pharmacists are also called into the clinic whenever their supervision is needed during a patient visit or emergency.”

Aside from her job-related pharmacy work, being on a Navajo reservation has lent Bolina other rare opportunities she wouldn’t have gotten elsewhere.

“The Navajo culture and language is entirely new to me, and being on reservation land allows me to learn more about the local culture,” Bolina said. “I have already learned a few words in Navajo and have asked numerous questions about the culture. It is very interesting to learn, especially when it coincides with healing.”

Although she wasn’t quite prepared her for the differences of Navajo language and culture, Bolina says her HSOP experiences have already proven invaluable to her experience.

“Without my education at HSOP so far, I think I would be completely lost. During my few weeks here, I have drawn from every course that I have taken at HSOP,” Bolina said. “Whenever I counsel a patient, the basis for that interaction is derived from what I learned during my first year of pharmacy school.”


Jasleen Bolina meets with a patient
Jasleen Bolina meets with a patient at the Four Corners Regional Health Center
Jasleen Bolina checks prescriptions in the pharmacy
Jasleen Bolina checks prescriptions in the pharmacy

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About the Harrison School of Pharmacy
Auburn University’s Harrison School of Pharmacy is ranked among the top 20 percent of all pharmacy schools in the United States, according to U.S. News & World Report. Fully accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE), the School offers doctoral degrees in pharmacy (Pharm.D.) and pharmaceutical sciences (Ph.D.) while also offering a master’s in pharmaceutical sciences. For more information about the School, please call 334.844.8348 or visit http://pharmacy.auburn.edu.

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Last Updated: June 27, 2016