I had the pleasure of completing a clinical pharmacy rotation at the Integrative Pain Center of Alaska (IPCA) under the direction of Dr. Cross. It was a great experience. The staff at IPCA is friendly and they were all very welcoming to me as a student. Dr. Cross was an excellent teacher as well as a great role model. She set a good example of how to care for and interact with patients. It was obvious that she genuinely cared about the wellbeing of each of her patients. She took the time to thoroughly listen to all of their concerns, and did everything she could to address each of those concerns to ensure the best possible outcomes. She would even address patients’ concerns that did not pertain specifically to pain.
Throughout the rotation, I had numerous opportunities to interact with patients. Dr. Cross would send me into the exam room to do complete medication workups with patients before she would go in to do her assessments. I would report to Dr. Cross what I learned from the workups and give her any recommendations I had, then we would go in to see the patients together. I would observe her while she completed the physical and subjective assessment of the patients. She always took the time after the patient consultations to teach me about what problems patients had and why she chose specific treatment options. I felt as though Dr. Cross listened to my recommendations when I had them, as long as they were appropriate and I had valid reasons to support them. She never dismissed what I had to say just because I was a student.
On the days we were not in clinic, I got to observe Dr. Cross perform a number of injection and minimally invasive procedures. Procedure days were interesting because I learned approaches to treating and managing pain that were different from the basic pain management options I was taught in classes. Dr. Cross always made certain I knew everything about the medications used, especially adverse effects and why certain agents were better for different procedures. Between observing Dr. Cross in clinic and procedure, answering questions Dr. Cross presented me with, and listening to Dr. Cross’s teachings, I learned a lot from my experience at IPCA.
Dr. Cross expected me to work hard to learn during my rotation and she held high standards, but she really encouraged me, and provided a ton of opportunities, to get out and experience Alaska. Among many other activities I could only do in Alaska, I got to kayak the Chena River, whitewater raft in Denali, tour Denali National Park, go on a dinner cruise on the Chena River, visit Anchorage for a weekend, and hike along the Byron Creek up to the Byron Glacier. Whether I was working to complete my rotation or I was out experiencing what Alaska had to offer, Dr. Cross and her family made sure I had something to do to enjoy myself. I would highly recommend a rotation with Dr. Cross at IPCA to any student who is interested in pain management and who would like to venture out to experience the adventure of Alaska.
University of Washington
School of Pharmacy
PharmD Candidate, Class of 2013