Posted on April 14, 2020 in: Professional Practice
Lienna LaBarge, Pharm.D. Candidate 2020; Michelle Sahr, Pharm.D., Ferris State University College of Pharmacy, Big Rapids
The profession of pharmacy is one that offers an abundance of opportunity to make a significant impact on patient care, and the profession has continued to expand its role in patient care by integrating pharmacy services into many multidisciplinary teams among a variety of healthcare settings. An example of this successful coordination can be found at Ferris State University’s Interprofessional Wellness Clinic which features collaboration among students and faculty from nursing, optometry and pharmacy professions to provide comprehensive services to patients with diabetes. Pharmacists involved with this clinic have established their own independent role, as well as integrated themselves as irreplaceable members of the healthcare team. In order to establish that role, it is important that pharmacists can offer services that may not otherwise be available to patients or offer expertise that can complement care provided by other professions. At the Wellness Clinic, pharmacy staff accomplishes this by making targeted interventions regarding pharmacotherapy for each individual patient, while working with other professions to address lifestyle interventions and preventative care in a patient-centered, team-based approach.
Medication regimens are often a crucial part of care for patients with diabetes and can also be a source of frustration, confusion and burden. At the Wellness Clinic, pharmacists work to discover and consider these barriers when making their targeted interventions and rely on effective interprofessional collaboration to promote this process. Patients at the Wellness Clinic will travel between three rooms, as each of the three professions (nursing, optometry and pharmacy) addresses a different aspect of care. Cohesion is first promoted through use of shared Electronic Health Records (EHR) so pharmacists may easily access information gathered by the other healthcare providers and apply that to their assessment. There is also robust verbal communication between each profession as the patient is handed off from each room. Additionally, student pharmacists on rotation are encouraged to stay with the same patient during the nursing and optometry assessments. The student is then able to present the patient information that was gathered to the pharmacist. Students provide insights or information that may not be recorded in the EHR, as some information that another profession might not have felt pertinent to document may actually be influential for pharmacy’s process. Together, the pharmacist and student pharmacist can discuss and develop a plan with the patient that considers many different factors. The use of these methods to promote effective interprofessional communication has allowed pharmacists to provide well-rounded care that also addresses the needs of each individual patient.
In addition to direct involvement with patient care, pharmacy faculty and students at the Wellness Clinic also serve as providers of education through delivery of in-service and educational presentations to the nursing and optometry professions before clinic starts. These presentations have helped to expand knowledge about the contributions that pharmacists can make as part of the healthcare team and have facilitated a robust learning environment for all participants. Students from all three professions can take away lessons about communication and patient care, as well as gain experience in areas of clinical practice such as rounding with a team. The opportunity for students to participate with other professionals in this real-life setting is one of great value. The sooner students are able to practice interprofessional collaboration like this, the easier it becomes for this type of effective communication to become a part of their everyday practice in the future.