Friday, October 5, 2012

A rotation to advance patient care…

Posted by Krystal Sheerer at Friday, October 05, 2012

Over the last five weeks I have been in Alexandria, Virginia at the National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) which is compromised of many departments. I also spent time working with the association’s affiliated charitable Foundation.

Like many student pharmacists, I am used to being on rotations where the pharmacist is working directly with patients or healthcare providers. While, this rotation still had a focus on patient care, it had more of an indirect approach (see mission statement below). 

The NACDS Foundation mission is:
“To utilize education, research, and charitable involvement to help people improve their health and quality of life through an understanding of medication therapy and the importance of taking medications appropriately”

This experience would be unlike any of my other rotations and I wanted to take advantage of this opportunity.  I was unsure what exactly my day to day activities would be on this rotation. I was hoping this rotation would provide an insight as to where community pharmacy was heading. I wanted to learn more about what services community pharmacies (outside of Michigan) were offering, opportunities for growth and expansion of clinical services, and how pharmacists were advocating for their profession.  

I am so glad that I had the opportunity to come out to Virginia and spend time at NACDS and its affiliated Foundation.  Through working with the Foundation, I was able to see some of the great things going on in community pharmacy that advanced patient care and education initiatives.  Although there is no direct patient care at the site, the NACDS Foundation clearly works to improve the patients’ quality of care.  Learning how to affect patient care indirectly is an experience I am grateful I had. 

I spent the first few days learning about both NACDS and the Foundation and the different departments as well as catching up on some of their latest projects.  From there it was many “mini” assignments/projects.  One project consisted of a literature search surrounding a topic of interest for NACDS and myself.  I also constructed a presentation on Community Pharmacy.  In addition, I worked to formulate a short paper focusing on pharmacists’ opportunities to improve transitions of care, a topic that has been a national priority.    

While here, the NACDS Foundation announced 15 additional academic institutions selected for the Community Pharmacy Residency Expansion Project (Community Prep).  See article for further details: I was able to participate in the review committee process and learn more about how residencies are becoming incubators for innovation in community pharmacy patient care.

One challenging aspect of this rotation was that as a student, I often worked on smaller sections of projects that would be integrated into final documents or proposals. My work on clinical services and patient health outcomes was often related to many other parts of the organizations.  Thus, as I assisted extensively in how a project started it would go through many reiterations before a final product.  It was interesting and helpful to see the many steps in a project as well as hear the reasoning behind some of the changes.  Moving forward I will be able to use some of the tips and suggestions from this rotation on future proposals and projects.

Additionally, as pharmacists, we pride ourselves on our ability to counsel patients; this rotation helped confirm that we need to not only communicate with patients, but we must be able to communicate with the larger healthcare audience.  Our contributions are helpful and valued, and pharmacists must continue to reach out so we may be recognized for our clinical services.  As pharmacists and student pharmacists we must not only practice pharmacy but we must be an advocate for pharmacy!   

One of the most challenging parts of this rotation was being 11 hours away from family and friends.  I am thankful I was surrounded by great people both at work and at home which made being a way from home a little easier.

I would like to especially thank my preceptors (all three of them) for a great experience! I appreciated all the time you took to provide feedback and answer my questions.   

While, I am happy to be headed home to be with my family and friends, I will miss NACDS and Virginia.  

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