Provider Status and Pharmacists: What’s the Connection?

Healthcare delivery in the United States and around the world faces various challenges including increased cost, improving quality, and reduced access. More people have the benefit to receive care and live healthy lives, however, there is a shortage in the number of healthcare professionals available to provide their care. By 2025 there is a projected fall in the availability in the number of physicians in the United States based on the huge gap in the supply and demand in this field. Costs are rising because the few available physicians must work more to accommodate all patients. This creates a unique opportunity for pharmacists to provide care to patients, especially if they receive official national recognition as healthcare providers and given the right to expand the services allowed under their scope of practice.

Per the Department of Health and Human Services, it is projected that there will be about 368,000 active pharmacists in the United States by 2030. By then, the general population will increase in number as well, making the need for healthcare professionals rise even further. Pharmacists are among the most trusted healthcare professionals due to their availability and personal relationships with their patients. However, in the Social Security Act, pharmacists are not formally recognized as healthcare providers. Even though they work in a wide-reaching field ranging from clinical specialties, to community/retail pharmacies, geriatrics, ambulatory care, and industry and research, they have not been given the privilege to be fully accepted as providers, and thus, cannot bill Medicare Part B for their services. This is the reason why all pharmacists must support and advocate for the provider status movement which was initiated in March March 2014.

Another reason why pharmacists should be recognized as providers is their status as health care professionals with extensive, thorough, and specific knowledge about drugs. Pharmacists have increased availability to patients, especially those in rural/underserved areas, and often work extended hours. A patient can walk into a community pharmacy at any time of the day to ask questions regarding any health concerns, medications being taken, or anything pertaining to their health and have a trained professional there to assist them. This means that, at some levels, pharmacists spend more time with their patients than physicians. Pharmacists often see the same patients come to the store everyday just to have conversations, which allows them to become more familiar with the patients and develop personal relationships with them. These relationships create trust between both sides and trust happens to be to the number one value that health care professionals need for their patients to believe that they are receiving the best care possible. Physicians have limited time to spend with their patients, and their encounters are very limited, which is why developing personal relationships and higher levels of trust with their patients is more difficult than that of pharmacists.

It’s easy to see how pharmacists play an important role in providing efficient and high-quality patient care. Pharmacists have vast knowledge regarding drugs, and are valuable for drug therapy management. With the introduction of Point Of Care Testing (POCT), most pharmacists have the ability to provide primary basic care to patients even when visiting local community pharmacies. Therefore, it is necessary for pharmacists to be formally recognized as providers so they can reach their full potential as professionals and help more patients receive the adequate health care they deserve.

Contributed by Koffi Amegadje, NCPA Community Outreach Chair, Class of 2020

Pharmacogenetic Testing: Determining What Medications Are Right for You!

Have you ever been prescribed a medication that just did not work for you? Have you ever experienced a negative medication side effect that someone else on the same medication did not?

If yes, you may be able to thank your DNA.

Every human has his/her own, unique set of genetic code. This uniqueness or variation within our genes causes medications to be activated and metabolized differently, causing different effects on the human body. Some of these genetic variations can impact an individual’s response to their medications.

Pharmacogenetic (PGx) testing, usually done with a simple cheek swab, is used by healthcare professionals to determine which genetic variations are predominant within each patient. This information is then used to understand the patient’s response to certain medications. PGx alleviates the need for trial and error in the treatment of patients, and offers a way to strategically target therapies based on an individual’s genetic code.

Employing PGx testing gives healthcare providers the ability to screen medications before initiating therapy. This helps patients avoid drugs they will not even be able to process and/or metabolize well, and instead it provides their provider insight on what medications will work from the beginning. This can help accelerate the benefits from medications, reduce wasted time, reduce expenses for ineffective medications, and possibly even save lives.

References:

  1. Rxight. (2016). Why is PGx Testing Important? Retrieved January 10, 2017, from Rxight: Right Medicine, Right From The Start. http://rxight.com.

    Contributed by: Rebekah Dunham, Class of 2017

Minority Representation & Underserved Patients

Contributed By: Glorisel Cruz, Class of 2018, SNPhA Vice President

The Student National Pharmaceutical Association (SNPhA) was founded in 1972.1 SNPhA’s mission is to bring pharmacy students together “who are concerned about pharmacy and healthcare related issues, and the poor minority representation in pharmacy and other health-related professions.”1 But why is it so important to focus on minority representation and the underserved in our health care system? It is estimated that “by 2020 more than half of the nation’s children will be of an ethnic or racial minority; by 2050, African American/Blacks, Hispanics, and Asians will comprise the majority of the population.”2 With this comes the inevitable question of whether our pharmacy profession is equipped to meet their health care needs.

Most pharmacy students mention helping people as one of the main reasons they aspire to be a pharmacist. Part of a pharmacy schools’ job is to help their students be competent in helping everyone, underserved or not. One of the ways pharmacy school helps students achieve this is by having “diversity in faculty and staff members and curriculum [to help] foster a culturally competent and diverse student population, which in turn impacts the quality of care provided to patients.”2 The problem is that having diverse faculty and staff members may not be as easy. Angela Hagan and colleagues compared racial and ethnic representation in pharmacy schools’ staff in comparison with the US Census Bureau data in their article The Racial and Ethnic Representation of Faculty in US Pharmacy Schools and Colleges. 2 They found that “Asian faculty representation was more than double in pharmacy than in higher education.” 2 It wasn’t the same for the other minorities and their representation in the pharmacy faculty. According to the same article, when compared to medical and dental schools, there was a higher representation of African Americans/Black faculty. 2 The program that had a better representation of Hispanic faculty was the dental program when compared to other programs. 2 Having diverse representation among the faculty of pharmacy schools can help “staff and other service providers have the requisite attitudes, knowledge, and skills for delivering culturally competent care.” 3 Therefore, having diverse faculty in pharmacy programs should be one of the main goals of a school.

Underserved populations also include those with low-economic status, “patients with medical disabilities or chronic illness,” those who are “confined to long-term care facilities,” “patients with limited literacy,” and anyone who lives in “geographically isolated or medically underserved areas.”4 Around 62 million people in the United States are part of the underserved population. 5 For example, West Virginia, alone, has 49 counties out of a total of 55 counties, which are considered underserved. 5 There are different methods that West Virginia has implemented to help its people, such as free clinics. 5 Pharmacists have a major role in helping underserved patients get better health care. SNPhA members, along with many other organizations, are helping by setting up health fairs which provide free services to underserved patients, such as blood pressure and blood glucose screenings, A1c testing, and various educational programs

References:

  1. About – SNPhA. Accessed: November 25, 2016. https://snpha.org/about/
  2. Hagan AM, Campbell HE, Gaither CA. The Racial and Ethnic Representation of Faculty in US Pharmacy Schools and Colleges. Am J Pharm Educ. 2016;80(6).
  3. Missing Persons: Minorities in the Health Professions. The Sullivan Commission. 2004:1-208. Accessed: November 24, 2016. http://www.aacn.nche.edu/media-relations/SullivanReport.pdf.
  4. Dental Pipeline: Who Are “Underserved Patients”? Accessed: November 25, 2016.http://www.dentalpipeline.org/elements/community-based/pe_underserved.html
  5. Mallow JA, Theeke LA, Long DM, Whetsel T, Theeke E, Mallow BK. Study protocol: mobile improvement of self-management ability through rural technology (mI SMART). Springerplus. 2015;4(1):423. doi:10.1186/s40064-015-1209-y.

Script Your Future: Asthma & Medication Adherence

Script Your Future

Asthma is a chronic respiratory disease that causes inflammation and narrowing of the airways. It affects persons of all ages, but is more common in children. Some of the common signs/symptoms associated with asthma are wheezing, chest tightness, shortness of breath especially on exertion, and coughing. Although there is no cure for asthma, there are steps you can take to keep this condition under control!

The best way to manage your asthma is to take your medications properly. The most commonly used medications in the treatment of asthma are a combination of long-term and quick-relief (aka “rescue”) medications. Although these medications can be taken in a pill or tablet form, they are commonly administered through devices called inhalers and/or nebulizers. These long-term inhalers are used to deliver inhaled corticosteroids (e.g. albuterol) into the airways for the purpose of reducing airway inflammation and prevent symptoms from ever occurring. Short-acting or “rescue” medications are used to provide fast relief when symptoms do occur.

An Asthma Action Plan is a great tool to use in helping you manage your asthma appropriately. These worksheets help you keep track of your asthma symptoms and medications all in one convenient place. These plans describe your daily asthma care plan including what treatments to take and when. Your doctor or pharmacist will be able to guide you in filling out the action plan and keep you on the right track. For all chronic conditions, asthma included, it is critical to take all of your medications as they are prescribed by your doctor!

For tips on how to use an inhaler or find a sample Asthma Action Plan, visit www.scriptyourfuture.org!

UCSOP ExRx Bootcamp a Success!

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High school students make ointment in the compounding lab

From June 21st through the 24th the halls of UCSOP looked very different with almost 30 high school and undergraduate students here for the 3rd annual ExRx- Experience Pharmacy Summer Bootcamp. These students were formally here to learn about UC and the profession of pharmacy as a whole but also to do what anyone at a camp wants to do- have fun! Favorite activities included compounding camphor-menthol ointment in the compounding lab with Mr. Ramirez, preparing sterile IVs with Dr. Embrey and Ms. Condee, and a photo scavenger hunt around campus which turned into a fierce competition to find as many UC Golden Eagles as possible. (The winning team, The Green Circle Group ultimately found 28!)

Campers came from all over the country. While a majority came from West Virginia we had people come all the way from New York, Florida, and numerous other states to participate. In addition to the hands on experiences, campers also got a feel for the more didactic classroom based portions of the Pharm D. program through sessions on the history of pharmacy, ethics, and the APhA Career Pathways program.

One particularly exciting session was Dr. Radhakrishnan’s lecture “The Travelogue of a Tablet” which covered the journey of tablet from mouth to active site to excretion. Campers enjoyed being in the “facilities and us[ing] resources that current pharmacy students get to use” while getting a lecture from a professor they very well may have if they come to UCSOP.

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Students work with a mannequin in the simulation lab

Ultimately, the success of a program like this is the impact it has on the students. One student even went so far as to say they had “been to few camps and things about pharmacy and [in] the few short days here…learned more then any other place as well had more fun. So [they] would highly recommend this to anyone for the fact of all th [sic] info …[and] how fun it was.” A focus of UCSOP and in turn a focus of the camp was on promoting rural health. Students were exposed to the unique challenges of rural health pharmacists by interacting with some and hearing about their experiences. As a result, 75% indicated after the camp that they are interested in serving rural populations.

While this extended four day ExRx program is only offered once per summer, UCSOP has shorter ExRx open house events on campus throughout the school year. Check out this link for more information.

Each group of campers led by a P2 Fellow created a short video to capture their camp experience. Check them out below to see what each group was up to!

The Silver Star Group led by Kathryn Howerton

The Pink Circle Group led by Rachel Peaytt

Squad Red Stars led by Kyle Theiss

The Gold Star Group led by Blanche Ndifon

The Blue Star Group led by Leila Fleming

The Green Circle Group led by Amber Gross

(Cirlce groups are high school students and star groups are current undergraduate students)

Be sure to look out for information about ExRx 2017 next Spring on the UCSOP website this fall!

UC Pharmacy Student Advocates for Childhood Immunizations Worldwide

Around the world, a child dies every 20 seconds from a vaccine-preventable disease.

shot at life As the SNPhA Operation Immunization Chair, I was introduced to the Shot@Life campaign founded by the United Nations Foundation. It aimed at increasing the awareness for the use of polio, pneumonia, rotavirus, and measles vaccines in children less than 5 years in developing countries. After conducting a fundraiser here at UCSOP in November 2015, I was able to join the 2016 Shot@Life Summit in Washington, D.C. from February 29th to March 2nd. This was a great honor for me to be part of such a great cause.

Christelle Nagatchou, Class of 2018 with Senator Joe Machin and SNPhA in Washington, D.C.

In D.C., I learned even more about the need for vaccines worldwide and became an advocate for the campaign. I had the privilege to support it through enforcing my role as a future pharmacist and health care provider at the Capitol by meeting with West Virginia Senator Shelley Moore Capito’s staff and Senator Joe Manchin and his staff. I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything as it taught me so much about advocating in what we believe in. I strongly encourage all future pharmacists to be involved in promoting the advancement of our profession!

You can learn more about Shot@Life at: http://www.shotatlife.org/

Contributed by: Christelle Ngatchou, Class of 2018

UCSOP Offers Summer Camp for High School & Undergraduate Students

Contributed by: Taylor Pickens, ExRx Boot camp Alum and Class of 2020

Are you interested in learning about the pharmacy profession? Registration for the 2016 Experience Pharmacy Bootcamp is now open. Tuesday, June 21 will mark the first day of the second ExRx BExRx-postcardootcamp event held at the University of Charleston School of Pharmacy, in Charleston, WV. This unique four-day event is designed to give high school juniors, seniors, and undergraduate college students the opportunity to experience pharmacy in an interactive, hands-on fashion. Students will take part in organized activities beginning Tuesday morning, June 21 and ending Friday afternoon, June 24. Some of the week’s events will include hands-on simulation, compounding, and IV lab experiences, as well as sessions on the history of pharmacy, medicinal plants, pharmaceutical career options, mock interviewing, and many other activities.

Students learn to compound IV products at ExRx Bootcamp

Students learn to compound IV products at ExRx Bootcamp

This unique experience is a prime opportunity to gain insight and preparation for that next step toward a future in pharmacy. Whether you are interested in learning more about a pharmacy career as a whole, or need help preparing for the application process, ExRx Bootcamp will prove to be a worthwhile experience. Emily Chattin, a freshman pre-pharmacy scholar at the University of Charleston says, “I would highly recommend attending this event. You are educated on what it takes to succeed before, during, and after pharmacy school, make lifelong friendships and connections with your preceptors. You also get to do fascinating experiments in the lab.”

Participating students will be housed in UC residence halls, with meals provided by the UC dining hall. Cost for the four-day camp is ONLY $99.00 per student, and includes meals, lodging, linens, towels, as well all activities. A limited number of need-based scholarships are available. If you would like to register, or are interested in receiving more information, please contact Ms. Jamie Bero at jamiebero@ucwv.edu, or call (304)720–6685.

Registration forms and information can also be accessed online at: http://www.ucwv.edu/pharmacy/ 

Experience Pharmacy at the UCSOP!

ExRx-postcardThe University of Charleston School of Pharmacy is continuing to host our ExRx: Experience Pharmacy days throughout the 2015-2016 school year. The ExRx days are an opportunity for high school juniors and seniors, along with college undergraduates, to learn more about the pharmacy profession. Whether you know pharmacy is right for you or have just started considering a career in pharmacy, this event is for you!

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Participants in the IV lab, “gowned up”. A sterile environment is important!

ExRx is your opportunity to learn more about the pharmacy profession and see what makes the UCSOP a great place to continue your pharmacy education. ExRx participants will spend time in our Simulation and IV Labs, learning how CPR works with a simulation mannequin with an actual pulse, blood pressure, temperature, and other physiological features. Participants can practice procedures and medications on the our mannequins, examining how methods would work on real patients. In the IV Lab, participants learn to make sterile intravenous products, utilizing aseptic techniques to maintain sterility.

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A participant in the compounding lab.

Participants will also work in the compounding lab, learning the basics of compounding medication. In the past, ExRx participants have compounded menthol/camphor topical ointment, lip balm, and medicated gummies. After experiencing the various labs the school has to offer, ExRx participants will meet faculty, staff, and current students of the pharmacy school. This is a great time to introduce yourself to faculty, and ask any questions that you may have. The day will end with a tour of the School of Pharmacy, and participants have the option to have lunch with current pharmacy students.

Join us to experience what it is like to be a pharmacy student at the University of Charleston School of Pharmacy!

ExRx dates for the 2015-2016 school year are:

  • September 26, 2015
  • October 24, 2015
  • February 20, 2016
  • April 16, 2016
  • June 4, 2016

ExRx days are free, but space is limited. To register for an ExRx day, please click here.

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Allyssa Bradford, Class of 2019

 

ExRx days are a great way to learn more about the profession of pharmacy, and to see how pharmacy school will be at UCSOP. I highly recommend it to any student who has an interest in the profession of pharmacy. I already knew I wanted to become a pharmacist before attending ExRx, however it reassured me I was making the right decision with my future.

Contributed by: Isabella White, blogger and UCSOP Graduate Intern.

 

Experience Pharmacy This Summer!

ExRx-postcard

The University of Charleston School of Pharmacy is inviting high school juniors, seniors and college undergraduates to Experience Pharmacy in June 2015. Faculty and staff will conduct an intensive three-day summer camp for students interested in pursuing a career in pharmacy. The ExRx (Experience Pharmacy) Bootcamp will be held Monday, June 22 through Thursday, June 25, 2015 at the University of Charleston School of Pharmacy in Charleston, WV.

Gannett mannequinParticipants will have the opportunity to learn about various pharmacy career paths, participate in activities in the compounding, simulation and IV labs, and tour the School of Pharmacy. They will also receive advice on preparing and applying for college and pharmacy school. There will be interesting sessions on the history of pharmacy, medicinal plants, medication adherence and patient consultation.

Evening activities will include: a scavenger hunt, a service project, a board game night, ice cream social and pizza, movies and s’mores night.

Students will stay in the UC residence halls and meals will be provided in the UC dining halls. The $99.00 fee includes meals, lodging, linens, towels, curricular materials, and activities. A limited number of need-based scholarships are available.IV Wednesday

For more information or to register please contact Ms. Jamie Bero at jamiebero@ucwv.edu or by telephone at 304-720-6685. Registration forms are also available at: www.ucwv.edu/pharmacy

 

Stepping Out of the Classroom: A Visit to the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum

On November 1st, students currently enrolled in PHAR 535 (Introduction to Psychiatric Pharmacy) and 546 (History of Pharmacy) were treated to one last Halloween fright! Students and their professors visited the Trans Allegheny Lunatic Asylum (TALA) in Weston, WV, which currently functions as a haunted house by night and educational, historical landmark by day.

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Exploring the TALA Pharmacy

The lunatic asylum housed individuals from West Virginia and surrounding states from approximately 1864 until 1994. Patients were placed in the asylum for multiple reasons ranging from snakebites, childbirth, and of course, mental instability. The tour featured multiple buildings located on the more than 300-acre grounds currently owned by the Jordan family, who bought the asylum in order to preserve a piece of history and prevent its destruction.

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Walking the halls . . .

Students participating were able to step back in time and view medical treatment for psychiatric illness from a historical perspective. In addition, students visited the remnants of the asylum’s pharmacy, an onsite museum where both medical artifacts depicting psychiatric treatments and remedies of the past, and a gallery of patient artwork. The goal of the visit was to allow UC SOP student pharmacists to view the progression of psychiatric treatment from the mid-1800s to today.

“During the tour, I was able to see how much the field of medicine has changed throughout the years. Located on the grounds is a hospital, as well as an old pharmacy, which depicted many of the drugs and instruments used during the time the asylum operated. The experience was interesting and did a wonderful job of showing us just how far we as medical professionals have advanced over the past few centuries. Personally speaking, I am thankful to have had the opportunity to visit a piece of West Virginian history and to see how different things were years ago. I recommend visiting this institution for those who are medical personnel or even just seeking an adventure.” -Chadrick Small (P2), PHAR 546

“Visiting TALA was a unique experience that I was able to attain through my Psychiatric Pharmacy course. Attending TALA enabled me to see just how far medicine has come since the opening of the hospital. One of the most interesting facts I learned while in Weston was how women were admitted into lunatic asylums in the early 1900s. Women could be admitted to the hospital for whatever reason her husband deemed fit. Examples of reasons included wives reading too many novels or talking too much. I was surprised by this information because although I knew that women were not considered equal to men at that time, I did not realize that husbands were entitled to treat their wives so poorly. Overall, I greatly enjoyed visiting TALA for a tour of the facility. It was an interesting experience that I most likely would not have gotten if it had not been for my Psychiatric Pharmacy course. The experience expanded my knowledge of the history of psychiatric medicine and I am happy to have had the opportunity to attend.”  –Jenny Long (P2), PHAR 535

Learn more about TALA by visiting: http://trans-alleghenylunaticasylum.com/

Contributed by Peter Relvas UC SOP Pharmacy Student & Graduate Intern, Office of Professional and Student Affairs