Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The man behind the counter

By Will Bublitz

Filling your prescription and ensuring you understand how to take those medications correctly is the job of Andrew Quitiquit, the new pharmacist at Hoffman Drug in Limon.

Andrew has been working with local customers since June 1 after graduating from the University of Colorado with a Doctorate of Pharmacy on May 23. He became a fully licensed pharmacist on September 1.

“At Hoffman Drug, I measure out the quantities of medications as prescribed by the doctors and dispense them to the patients,” he said. “I also clarify the doctors’ medication orders.”
Andrew explained his use of the word “clarify” means it is his duty as a pharmacist to help the patient understand how to safely take those medications.

“Some medications you take either with or without food, others once a day or at set times of the day,” he said. “Where it gets complicated is when patients are on multiple medications. They need to be aware of potential side effects and the timing of taking the medications, so a large part of my job is educating them about these drugs.”

Andrew is fully qualified to teach patients about the composition and physical effects of their medications because he holds degrees in both pharmacology and chemistry.

“Occasionally as a pharmacist, we have to mix compounds, so I get to use my chemistry training,” he said. “But usually in pharmacology, you’re just handling prepared medications. As a pharmacist, the most important thing to know is how these medications will impact a patient’s physiology.”
He also explained that another important part of a pharmacist’s job is getting to know the patients as individuals.

“You have to be able to navigate the personalities of your patients,” Andrew said. “Some will come in having a great day, while others will be sick. Others will have gotten their medications but haven’t been taking them as prescribed by their doctor. You need to know them to understand what’s going on.”

Andrew explained this is essential because  being a pharmacist is a very customer-based service.
“As pharmacists, we are the most accessible health care professionals in a community,” he said. “We’re willing to take the time to chitchat with our customers and get to know them. Also, our pharmacy here at Hoffman Drug is a great place where they can come to get access to over-the-counter medications on weight loss, smoking cessation, high blood pressure, pain relief and much more, as well as immunizations.”

While he just got his degree and license in pharmacology over the past few months, Andrew is not new to working in pharmacies. He has worked in pharmacies since 2007 in both California and Colorado.

Andrew said his decision to take the job at Hoffman Drug and move to Limon was a good one.

“Hoffman Drug has been a major part of this community for decades and I’m happy to be a part of it now,” he said. “This is a great place to work. Everyone here is so nice and helpful. And I’m really enjoying living in Limon. I like its small-town feel.”

Andrew was born and raised in San Diego, Calif. His sister is a community college administrator, and his brother is a pharmacist working for OptumRx in San Diego.

“My parents were Filipino immigrants who moved to the United States in the 1970s,” he said. “My Dad is a 25-year U.S. Navy veteran who served on submarines. My Mom is a Registered Nurse. My Dad’s whole family is involved in healthcare. My grandfather was the Chief of Hospital in Northern Luzon at Mountain Provence General Hospital Ababtan Bauko, Mountain Provence in the Philippines.”

While a student at Valhalla High School in San Diego, Andrew was a member of the Student Council and active in sports as a member of its football and track teams. Also during high school, he developed a major interest in chemistry.

After graduating, Andrew decided to follow that interest. He enrolled at the University of California at Irvine where he majored in chemistry.

“Chemistry was my favorite subject,” he said. “My first career option was to become a high school chemistry teacher, but after I started student teaching with classes of second and sixth graders, I lost interest in it. I just wasn’t ready to deal with that.”

Unsure what he wanted to do, Andrew followed in his brother’s footsteps and decided to become a pharmacist.

“He motivated me to try pharmacy school,” he said. “It was in the health care field and a good profession. It seemed to be the way to go. It was late 2006 when I made that decision.”

While still working on his undergraduate degree at the University of California - Irvine, Andrew decided to give his new ambition a try and got a job in 2007 as a pharmacy tech at CVS, a big chain pharmacy store in Newport Beach.

“I worked there a year,” he said. “It was on-the-job training at $8.50 an hour.”

After graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry in 2008, Andrew moved back to San Diego where he took a job as a pharmacy tech at a Target store.

After three years working in the Target pharmacy, Andrew decided it was time to advance his career. In 2011, he enrolled at the University of Colorado School of Pharmacy in Aurora.

“When I moved to Colorado, I also transferred from the Target store in San Diego to the Target in Aurora,” he said. “After I started as a student at CU, I became a pharmacy intern at the Aurora Target store.”

As he neared graduation last spring, Andrew began a job search. After looking through a number of options, he decided that Hoffman Drug was the best choice.

“I took the job at Hoffman’s pharmacy because I’d heard it was such an incredible place to work, learn and grow as a pharmacist,” he said. “I wanted to be mentored and hone my craft under the direction of an experienced pharmacist like Ryan Smithburg. That’s the honest and true reason why I came here.”

After living most of his life in big cities, Andrew admitted that moving to a small town was a bit of a culture shock but he is enjoying it now.

“It’s really cool,” he said. “It’s nice being in a small town and getting to know everyone. Also, this is my first job as a professional after being a student for most of my life. There have been a lot of firsts in my life over the past few months. I feel like I’m embarking on a new adventure.”

When not working, Andrew enjoys traveling, playing golf and spending time with his girlfriend in Denver.

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