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

UCSOP Hosts DEA 360 Strategy Meeting

Exciting things are happening at UCSOP, in the Charleston community, and around the state of West Virginia! On January 25, 2017, UCSOP hosted the DEA 360 Strategy Meeting for Charleston, WV. This meeting served as the kick-off event in the 6th city for this nationwide initiative. The DEA 360 program focuses on heroin, prescription drugs, and violence within our communities. screen-shot-2017-02-02-at-2-04-33-pm

DEA 360 utilizes a three-fold approach to fight the drug epidemic in its pilot cities. This approach focuses on diversion control, law enforcement, and community outreach working together to make our cities safe and free of drugs! The ultimate goals of the 360 Strategy are to stop the deadly cycle of heroin and opioid drug abuse and addiction, partner with the medical community to increase awareness about the link between heroin and opioid use, and to strengthen community organizations to provide long-term support for this initiative.The basic components of the strategy are outlined below:

  • Coordinated Law Enforcement Operations: Focuses on DEA leadership with coordinated local law enforcement actions targeting all levels of drug trafficking, organizations, and violent gangs supplying drugs in our neighborhoods.
  • Enhanced Diversion Control: Increases engagement from drug manufacturers, wholesalers, practitioners, and pharmacists to increase awareness of the heroin and prescription drug problem. Pushes for responsible prescribing practices and safe use of these medications throughout the medical community.
  • Building Community Partnerships:  Community outreach and partnerships with local organizations following DEA enforcement actions to equip and empower communities with the tools to fight the heroin and prescription drug epidemic. Focuses on young people through after school programs, education, and media attention to this issue.

Overall, 200+ people from DEA (both local divisions and DEA Headquarters in Washington DC), community groups and organizations in Charleston, along with UCSOP faculty, staff, and student pharmacists attended the meeting! Be on the lookout for local television and radio adds about the program as well as a website designed specifically for our Charleston community. It’s time to “Wake Up Charleston”!

UCSOP Faculty and Students host a luncheon for DEA representatives after the meeting!

UCSOP Faculty and Students host a luncheon for DEA representatives after the meeting!

 

AAPS & NCPA Host Health Fair for American Pharmacists Month

On October 29th, 2016 the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists (AAPS) along with the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) chapters at UCSOP hosted a diabetes health fair at Fruth Pharmacy on Oakwood Road. This diabetes health fair was one of many events put together by the various organizations at UCSOP in honor of American Pharmacists’ Month.

While AAPS’s vision focuses on the development of products and therapies through research, a major part of their mission is to bring together all individuals involved in the pharmaceutical sciences in order to best serve patients. We saw this health fair as an opportunity to do just that. We were able to collaborate with students from other organizations that focus specifically on community pharmacy, but with whom we still share the ultimate goal of patient service.

“Through this health fair, we were able to embrace and exemplify the idea that while there are many facets and specialties within the field of pharmacy, we are all dedicated to the education and treatment of patients.”

At this event, AAPS and NCPA provided free blood glucose and blood pressure screenings to individuals in the Fruth Pharmacy store. Approximately 15 UCSOP students volunteered for this event between the two organizations. This event served as a great opportunity for P2 students to practice their newly-learned blood glucose and blood pressure monitoring skills on actual patients. P3s were able to use this an opportunity to interpret scores, as learned in our pharmacotherapy II class, and explain to patients their results.

AAPS & NCPA Students at Fruth at Oakwood Road's store hosting their health fair!

AAPS & NCPA Students at Fruth Pharmacy at Oakwood hosting their health fair!

During this health fair, we were able to serve approximately 30 patients. Many of these patients were highly engaged in their own health; they knew what medications they were taking and knew what their normal values were. These patients appreciated the opportunity to quickly test their blood pressure and blood glucose to make sure they were reaching their goals. However, we also interacted with patients who had very little knowledge of blood glucose and blood pressure screenings. With these patients, we had the chance to educate them on why each test was important and explain consequences of high readings. There were also patients who understood the screening methods and knew they were diagnosed with diabetes, but did not seem to take their diagnoses seriously. These patients mentioned having family histories of diabetes and seemed to think that it was inevitable that they too develop diabetes. For these patients, we stressed the importance of taking medications as prescribed and regularly checking their blood glucose and blood pressure.

This health fair served as an opportunity to reach out to the Charleston community. Through this event, we were able to educate members of our community, bring attention to our school of pharmacy, and promote the profession of pharmacy. AAPS and NCPA, two organizations that may not seem to be associated, were able work together and support one another.

Contributed by: Suyasha Pradhan, AAPS Vice-President, Class of 2018

UCSOP Class of 2018 Hosts Health Fair at Local Pharmacy

Starting this fall the Class of 2018 has set out to reinforce the vision of the University of Charleston School of Pharmacy, which is to provide optimal healthcare to patients in rural Appalachia and other areas. The Class of 2018 has met this vision this semester by hosting a health fair at the Family Life Pharmacy in Comfort, West Virginia. This pharmacy serves a very rural part of West Virginia and gave us the opportunity to touch many patients lives that may not have the means of accessing health care on a regular basis.

Throughout the day we offered blood sugar and blood pressure checks, along with general information on diseases and ways to stay healthy. We also had the privilege of a local nurse participating in the fair and giving out flu shots to any patients who wanted them. All of the patients we interacted with that day really seemed to enjoy our company and information they received.

I personally participated in this activity and by doing so I feel as though I learned some great skills that I can apply to my future in pharmacy. We all learned how to effectively deliver medical information in a way that made sense to the patients. One of the more difficult parts of the day  was adjusting to accommodate the elderly patients. All of the student pharmacists had to come up with a way to aid in patient care with those who may not hear or see as good as they used to. This can be a real challenge when trying to accurately deliver or obtain information.

In total we interacted with around sixty patients throughout the day. We are hoping to make this a routine health fair and would love to see it happen multiple times throughout the year. In the upcoming semester the Class of 2018 along with a health fair is trying to organize a golf tournament for a local charity. We not only want to touch the lives of patients by interacting with them directly, but we also want to help the organizations that aid patients with chronic diseases provide better services and also monetary support. Our hope with doing activities in our community is that we can at least make a difference in one patients life if not many. If we can make a difference in a patient’s life, then that makes everything we are doing worthwhile.

Contributed by: David Poe (President, class of 2018).Poe, David

Let the Rotations Begin!

The first few weeks of P4 rotations is complete, with students working at many rotation sites that are available to UCSOP students. For those of you unfamiliar with the term “rotation site,” think of it as on-the-job training. Students have the opportunity to work at a pharmacy or hospital; classrooms are available if the student is interested in teaching what they’ve learned. The experience allows students to hone their communication skills with patients, while helping fortify the teachings they received in the classroom setting. The goal of the experience is to expose students to their future jobs and responsibilities, with a safety net in the form of a preceptor.

P4 Student Kyle Robinson with Preceptor Joey Anderson at Alum Creek Pharmacy on Sand Plant Road

P4 Student Kyle Robinson with Preceptor Joey Anderson at Alum Creek Pharmacy on Sand Plant Road

Incoming students may be curious as to what rotation sites are available, and I know one of the first emails I sent  as a pharmacy student was to the Experiential Experience Director asking what rotation sites I could look forward to. The director emailed me a rough list and although I had a few years before I could experience most of them, I felt excited and started my planning. At this point, I should clarify roughly how the process works. Students rank the rotations they want, and then a computer system utilizes a lottery-like algorithm to determine which student goes to what site. Therefore, there is a bit of randomness involved and nothing is truly certain.

Luckily the school has a very strong preceptor network, covering multiple different fields of pharmacy. Students interested in institutional environments like hospitals have options like the Cleveland Clinic, Indian Health Services, Charleston Area Medical Center (CAMC), Cabell Huntington Hospital, Thomas Memorial Hospital, St. Francis Hospital, Highland Hospital, just to name a few. If students prefer to go into retail or community pharmacy, there is a plethora of rotations as well. These include CVS, Rite Aid, Walmart, Walgreens, and Kroger rotations, as well as many independently owned pharmacies that focus on compounding and home infusion products. UCSOP also has rotations specializing in academia, research, and industrial pharmacy. Opportunities for such rotations are available with professors at the school, but also with Mylan Pharmaceuticals, the drug manufacturer giant in Morgantown, WV.

This list only contains a few of the available rotation sites, as the UCSOP has sites as far west as Guam, Alaska, and New Mexico, as well as many in Chicago, Columbus, Maryland, Virginia, and Kentucky. There’s also the possibility of setting up a new rotation site as well, however this process may take a very long time, as the site must be qualified and inspected to ensure the school’s standards are met.

As a student who originally was worried about the available sites, I have come to realize that the only real limitation is the lack of time to experience them all. Looking at my current rotation schedule, I wish I could try a few more than just the eight I am current assigned.

Contributed by Peter Relvas, P4 student.

Starting the New Year Off Right: Script Your Future Challenge

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“And the Script Your Future campaign is off!” Script Your Future is a nationwide initiative that challenges students in the health profession to inform patients about their medications and how to achieve positive medical outcomes. Sponsored by the National Consumers League, the campaign runs through January and February. This is the third year that University of Charleston School of Pharmacy (UCSOP) has participated in the event, and has received national recognition in the past.

Three disease states are being specifically targeted during the challenge: asthma, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. Coincidentally, those same three disease states are the most common in West Virginia. University of Charleston’s student pharmacists and student physician assistants will be working in conjunction to help patients in their community remember to take their medication, as well as ensuring the medication is taken properly.

Medication adherence involves:

  • Filling a new prescription or refilling an existing prescription
  • Completing the course of medication as prescribed
  • Taking the correct amount of prescribed medication
  • Taking medication at the prescribed time

Only approximately 50-60% of patients take their medications correctly, and 125,000 individuals die every year from taking their medications incorrectly. Based on these figures, there is plenty of room for improvement in medication adherence!

This is where the student pharmacists, student physician assistants, and other healthcare workers and institutions come into the picture. Students will promote medication adherence at a variety of health events throughout West Virginia and Ohio. The theme will be RxSolutions to help patients make a resolution to adhere to their medication regimen. Some of these activities include:

  • Encouraging community members to make a New Year’s Resolution to take their medication as prescribed
  • Placing medication adherence literature in prescription bags at Fruth Pharmacies and Advance Healthcare @UC
  • Conducting patient consultations at Beckley Appalachian Regional Hospital and Rainelle Health Center
  • Organizing a community wellness fair at the UCSOP Go Red for Women event, February 6, 2015
  • Reaching the community through social media, including a week-long Tweet-a-Thon January 26-February 2, 2015

Once more, UCSOP is showing just how important community outreach is to a student pharmacist’s development and education. Interacting with the public is an essential aspect of our profession, and helping individuals improve their medical outcomes with proper medication adherence is our top priority. Based on this information, we are sure the Script Your Future campaign will be a success once more!

For more information on the events contact: Dr. Susan Gardner, Assistant Dean for Professional and Student Affairs, susangardner@ucwv.edu, 304-357-4879.

For more information about medication adherence: http://www.scriptyourfuture.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/Final-FAQ-for-About-Page.pdf

Taking the Pharm on the Road!

We are taking the Pharm on the road! 

The University of Charleston School of Pharmacy admissions team is coming to a town near you! Our fall “Road Show” kicks off on September 10, 2104! Stop by a visit with us to learn more about our curriculum, team (faculty/staff), and students! Learn more about:

  • our focus on rural health, advocacy, and interprofessional collaboration
  • the many outreach activities members of our professional organizations engage in regularly
  • our two to one technology program (featuring MacBook Airs and iPad minis for all UCSOP students)
  • our commitment to excellence in pharmacy education and patient care

Members of our Office of Professional and Student Affairs including: Ms. Jamie BIMG_7680ero, Director of Student Affairs; Ms. Stacie Geise, Admissions Specialist; and Dr. Susan Gardner, Assistant Dean for Professional and Student Affairs will be traveling across the country in the coming months visiting colleges and attending career and professional fairs. Look for our logo, stop by our booth, and ask questions!

Our stops include:

  • September 10–West Virginia University Graduate Fair in Morgantown, WV
  • September 22–Radford University in Radford, VA
  • September 23–James Madison University in Harrisonburg, VA
  • September 24–University of Virginia in Charlottesville, VA
  • September 25–Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, VA
  • October 7–Morehead State University in Morehead, KY
  • October 8–Michigan State University in East Lansing, MI
  • October 11 & 12–University of California Davis Pre-Professional Health Fair
  • October 13–Georgia State University in Atlanta, GA
  • October 14–University of West Georgia in Carollton, GA
  • October 15–University of Georgia in Athens, GA
  • October 21–Ohio State University in Columbus, OH
  • October 21–University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
  • October 22–East Tennessee State University in Johnson City, TN
  • October 22–Penn State University in University Park, PA
  • October 23–East Carolina University in Greenville, NC

Can’t make it to one of these events? Contact us at 304-357-4889 today!

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UC SOP Offers Summer Camp for High School Students

Through a grant by the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission, the University of Charleston School of Pharmacy is able to contribute to a goal of increasing the number of West Virginia high school students who are exposed to health care careers. With the funds, the UC SOP is hosting an EPIC summer camp (E.xploring P.rofessions in H.ealth C.are) Sunday, June 22 – Friday, June 27, 2014. All activities will be held on UC’s campus and the camp is 100% FREE to the student….that’s right, all meals, lodging, and camp activities are covered by the program!

epicThe impetus for offering this camp experience was based on a work force demand analysis document released from the West Virginia Rural Health Association, entitled Health Care in West Virginia. The analysis examined the needs of the West Virginia population in relation to the health care work force in the state.  The document concluded that presently a shortage of 487 primary care physicians in West Virginia exists, which translates into $430 million in lost revenue and 11,000 lost jobs for West Virginia.  The shortage is especially significant in southern West Virginia.

Research indicates people from rural areas, who pursue health care careers, return to rural areas to work upon completion of their education.

In addition to using survey methodologies for this project, the University of Charleston School of Pharmacy, Physician Assistant and Nursing programs will host this week-long Health Care Enrichment camp in an effort to expose dozens of rising high school juniors from southern West Virginia to various health care professions.  The camp will provide students with knowledge and active learning opportunities from health professions such as pharmacy, family medicine, dentistry, physician assistant, nursing, and radiological sciences.

Dr. David Latif, UCOSP Professor and Chair of the UC West Virginia Rural Healthcare Grant Committee stated “Part of our mission is “to serve the community as leaders in rural health.”  We feel honored and excited that we are doing this because we truly want to make a positive impact on the citizens of southern West Virginia.”

The camp is an incredible opportunity for high school students considering a career in health care. The application process is simple and the deadline for submission is Thursday, May 15, 2014. There is an application and one letter of recommendation from the student’s science teacher that is required. This information can be found on the following website: http://www.ucwv.edu/epic .

If you have specific questions about the program, please feel free to contact Dr. David Latif, EPIC summer camp coordinator at: davidlatif@ucwv.edu or (304) 357-4354.