The ongoing changes in healthcare continually extend the scope of pharmacist-patient interactions. An innovative Community and Ambulatory Care practice rotation experience by USciences' Philadelphia College of Pharmacy looks to bridge the traditional community pharmacy model with direct patient care service model known as, Medication Therapy Management (MTM). This elective experience, available for student pharmacists in their last year of pharmacy school, is a one-of-a-kind program among area pharmacy schools.
At left: Karleen Moody, PharmD, takes blood pressure as part of the expanded role in patient care for pharmacists.
In various parts of the country, there is a growing trend where pharmacists consult with patients and interact collaboratively with physicians in a way that goes beyond the traditional dispensing role for the delivery of MTM services. PCP’s Gladys Dueñas, PharmD, BCACP, assistant professor of clinical pharmacy, created and implemented the community MTM hybrid experience which includes practice in both a community pharmacy as well as a primary care physician clinic in the South Jersey area two years ago. This year, Karleen Melody, PharmD, assistant professor of clinical pharmacy, has expanded the model and brought this type of rotation experience to Philadelphia.
“The hybrid model exposes students to highly unique situations. Sometimes it’s difficult to teach certain things in the classroom, so when we have students in practice in the community pharmacy and physician office setting, they get to see real-life challenges patients face when managing their medications,” Dr. Dueñas said.
Students in the rotation, who fulfill their patient care requirement, begin by observing during the first few weeks and move towards conducting MTM visits independently towards the end of the experience. A typical week requires students to fulfill a medication dispensing role for two days in a community pharmacy. During this time, students also identify and refer patients who can benefit from a pharmacist-provided MTM visit. Two days of are spent conducting direct patient care services—a full day in the community pharmacy and the other full day in a primary care clinic setting— where students work with Dr. Duenas and Dr. Melody to consult with patients on topics ranging from smoking cessation, diabetes self-management education, appropriate use of Asthma or COPD inhaler devices, and blood pressure monitoring. The final day is spent on campus engaging in patient case presentations, contemporary topic discussions, sharing site experiences, and learning from one another.
This rotation experience helps in several ways, exposing the new MTM patient care role of the community pharmacist to the general public and helping physicians understand the clinical services a pharmacist can provide. The program also offers an influential perspective for pharmacists who practice under the traditional setting and encourages them to consider delivering MTM as an option for their patients.
For PCP students, the program not only sets them apart and makes them employable, but also creates MTM experts to spread its message and expand the breadth of pharmacy services.
“We want students to tell their friends about medication therapy management and when they get out and practice, they’ll know how to consult with patients. Its reach is exponential,” Dr. Melody said.