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515 IPPE Rotation in Inpatient Psychiatry at Jesse Brown Veterans Affairs Medical Center


Edited by: Prashanth Sarma, PharmD Candidate 2025 & Angel Posadas, PharmD Candidate 2025


I had the pleasure to speak with Prashanth, an upcoming P4, about his IPPE rotation experience at Jesse Brown Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Chicago, Illinois. Read on to learn more!


Angel: Which rotation site did you choose, and why?


Prashanth: I completed my IPPE 515 rotation at the Jesse Brown Veteran Affairs Medical Center in the Inpatient Psychiatry department under the supervision of Dr. Archana Jhawar. I selected this rotation because of my deep passion for psychology, stemming from my personal experiences dealing with clinical anxiety. My aspiration is to pursue a career as a Psychiatric Pharmacist, driven by my desire to contribute to mental health care. Additionally, I was drawn to this particular rotation because of Dr. Jhawar's exceptional lecturing skills, which I experienced firsthand in PHAR 507.


Angel: I remember Dr. Jhawar’s lectures; they were very helpful, and I keep her notes to this day. What did a typical day at this rotation look like?


Prashanth: Starting at 8 AM in the pharmacy, my routine involves identifying newly admitted patients in the psychiatric unit, which usually would be 2 to 3 individuals. Subsequently, I review the pertinent medical notes for these patients and generate a printout of their inpatient medication list, which I compare against their outpatient medication list. On the printout, I note which medications are newly introduced during inpatient care and which medications have undergone alterations in their administration instructions from their outpatient regimen.


Around 11 AM, Dr. Jhawar returns from her rounds and conducts a comprehensive review of these patients alongside me and my partner. This discussion encompasses pertinent medication changes, relevant excerpts from their previous medical notes, strategies for patient engagement, and specific questions to pose. Subsequently, the three of us proceed to the psychiatric unit, where my partner and I each conduct interviews with 1-2 patients under Dr. Jhawar's supervision, with her intervening as needed. Following the interviews, Dr. Jhawar provides constructive feedback, and we return to the pharmacy.


Both my partner and I then compose patient notes, incorporating recommendations aligned with professional guidelines. Dr. Jhawar reviews these notes, offering feedback, which we subsequently integrate into revisions.


Angel: Wow that sounds like a packed day, but I am sure you learned so much! What were the most valuable lessons or skills you gained during this rotation?


Prashanth:  I gained several invaluable lessons and skills that have significantly enhanced my clinical practice. One of the most crucial skills I learned is how to perform medication reconciliation effectively. 


Furthermore, I gained proficiency in utilizing professional guidelines to make informed medication recommendations. By adhering to evidence-based recommendations, I can optimize therapeutic outcomes for patients.


Additionally, I developed a deeper understanding of the importance of specific laboratory values in tailoring medication therapy to individual patient needs. By interpreting these values within the context of the patient's clinical presentation and medical history, I can make informed decisions regarding medication selection, dosing adjustments, and monitoring protocols, thus ensuring safe and effective pharmacotherapy management. Overall, these skills have not only enriched my clinical competence but also reinforced my commitment to providing high-quality patient care.


Angel: I agree, those skills are very important to have as a clinical pharmacist. What was the most memorable patient interaction or case study that you experienced in this rotation?


Prashanth: I independently made a patient handout on Buprenorphine. This was very helpful because it not only taught me a great deal about the medications and its unique properties, but it also taught me how to present the information in patient-friendly language. Communication is a very important skill in the pharmacy field, as patients need to understand our knowledge in order to properly take care of themselves and see improvements in their conditions.


Angel: I definitely agree that communication is one of the most important skills in pharmacy. Our knowledge would be useless if we did not know how to communicate it properly to others. How did this rotation influence your career aspirations or areas of interest within pharmacy?


Prashanth: This rotation has furthered my interest in psychiatry and made me more focused on pursuing this field in the future. I was able to interact directly with patients that suffer from mental illnesses, enhancing my desire to make a difference in their lives.


Angel: I think you would make an amazing psychiatric pharmacist! How would you rate the difficulty of this rotation from 1 to 5, with 1 being the easiest class ever and 5 being the most difficult class you ever took at COP? 


Prashanth: I would give this rotation a 3 for difficulty. I think Dr. Jhawar does an amazing job of teaching you about mental illnesses and their treatments. She asks difficult questions to really help you think critically and understand the concepts.


Angel: Preceptors that aid in our growth are truly the best. Can other students contact you about this rotation?


Prashanth: Sure! My email is psarma2@uic.edu and my LinkedIn is https://www.linkedin.com/in/prashanth-sarma-8baa5617b/ .

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