Dispensed as written: Fingerprints


Peter A. KreckelMy Mom was a meticulous housekeeper. While Dad worked at the paper mill as a welder my Mom always had the “hardest job” as Dad would describe it. There were four of us Kreckel kids, and with three boys and one girl we made plenty of work for our very meticulous mother.  Mom seemed to always have an old pillowcase in her hand (paper towels were too expensive) and her bottle of Windex. “Can’t you keep your fingerprints off the storm door window at least until your Dad comes home?”

With my student pharmacists, I do the opposite!  I tell them to leave their “fingerprints” on every rotation.  All my student pharmacists work with me at the pharmacy, at the physician’s clinic two mornings a week, as well as teaching at St. Francis University in the Physician Assistant program. We have been blessed to have had over forty students in our Rural Pharmacy Rotation. Many of them have left their fingerprints all over our practice.

Ukwen Akpoji saw the need for a spreadsheet for the doctor’s clinic so we pharmacists could document every intervention we made.  He had columns for types of interventions, as well as a column to track any cost savings.

Vinnie Longhi took this tracking device to the next level, incorporating graphs so we could share the data with people studying the benefits of the pharmacist in the clinic. Both used their computer skills to making a lasting impact on the clinic, one that we hope one day might revolutionize the practice of our profession. We all know when Dr. Gates means when he says “what is on Ukwen’s spreadsheet”.

Kevin McMahon and Luke Hoffman worked together on our “Red Binder,” a project assigned by our owner Bill Thompson.  In this binder are detailed store policies outlined with respect to processing and receiving controlled prescriptions. This duo drove around Altoona, taking photos with their smartphones of all the physicians practices. This binder also contains the DEA “red flags” and any questionable prescriptions that were presented, but not filled, at our pharmacy.

Sophia Yang spent a day at Denise’s clinic in State College, PA.  Denise and Sophie were prepared for a day of processing patients for the “Give Kids a Smile” day. Sophie had a day she never envisioned; she spent all of her time in translating for the dentist and hygienist. Sophie used her language skills in helping these very needy Chinese patients get dental care by explaining the procedures to the patients and their parents. Previously these patients didn’t know they needed follow-up care, until Sophie explained this to them in their native tongue.  Her efforts impacted patients that never set foot in our pharmacy!


Tim Kaylor was my first student pharmacist at Thompson Pharmacy. Tim had experienced computer skills with our pharmacy software, and was an amazing pair of hands when I made the transition from my previous employer to Thompson Pharmacy. When I see how well my pharmacy operates, I often think back to the chaos and clutter I walked into that first week and how instrumental a student pharmacist was in bring order to my new workplace.

My current student Tim Heath is responding to the needs of a local doctor by researching extensively the use of probiotics for Clostridium difficile infections induced by antibiotic therapy. He will be publishing his work in our warehouse’s weekly newsletter. Like all the students before Tim, these students come with a skill set that complements nicely with the skills of a “seasoned” pharmacist. They are a valuable part of what we do, and some cases they have impacted patients for many years after their five-week rotation. 

I’m glad I don’t need to follow them around with the paper towels and Windex… these are the fingerprints we all love to see!   

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