ASHP InterSections ASHP InterSections

September 19, 2016

Pharmacy Academia Star Urges Other Women to Follow Their Passions

Editor’s Note: This is the third story in a series examining the growing number of women in pharmacy leadership and ASHP’s work to support them.

Marie Chisholm-Burns, Pharm.D., M.P.H., MBA, FASHP, FAST, FCCP

Marie Chisholm-Burns, Pharm.D., M.P.H., MBA, FASHP, FAST, FCCP

ONE OF THE BEST THINGS about pharmacy as a profession is the great diversity of career tracks that are available, according to Marie Chisholm-Burns, Pharm.D., M.P.H., MBA, FASHP, FAST, FCCP, Dean of the College of Pharmacy, University of Tennessee Health Science Center.

Dr. Chisholm-Burns, a well-known and highly respected clinical researcher with well over 100 published articles, more than a dozen books, and many awards to her name, pursued academic pharmacy from her earliest days in the profession. After earning both her B.S. in Pharmacy and Pharm.D. at the University of Georgia College of Pharmacy, Dr. Chisholm-Burns found that she loved the academic setting and was intrigued by the role of educator.

“Although I had summer jobs in community pharmacy, worked in a hospital pharmacy during pharmacy school, and then did a residency with a practice component after pharmacy school, I always wanted to be a teacher,” she said, adding that academia allowed her to follow her passions of practicing pharmacy, pursuing scholarly endeavors, and working with students.

The most compelling aspect of her work is its variety. “There’s something new every day — new challenges, new opportunities,” she said. “Being around students, where you can ask and answer questions, is like being at a playground for someone like me.”

Dr. Chisholm-Burns’ excitement about advancing interprofessional education is a key driver in her success as a healthcare provider. As demands for advanced clinical pharmacy services in hospitals and health systems increase, the profession is being challenged to train more pharmacists who can work as part of interprofessional care teams. And, according to Dr. Chisholm-Burns, pharmacy education is where good patient care actually begins.

Creating Influence via Publishing
Dr. Chisholm-Burns is well-known as a prolific researcher and academician. She views publishing as an indispensable way to elevate the visibility of pharmacists’ patient care roles and influence others within and outside of the pharmacy profession.

“You can teach one-on-one. You can learn one-on-one. But it would be a crime to keep it to yourself. For the benefit of patients, it’s essential to publish … even though it’s a lot of work,” she added with a laugh.
Publishing increases the prominence of both the individual pharmacist and the profession as a whole. “We need to think about the best ways to inform others about what we do to improve medication use, contribute to wellness, and even save lives,” Dr. Chisholm-Burns noted. “We need to do more than just preach to the choir” and write for other pharmacists.

“We’ve got to get it out to Better Homes and Gardens, columns in local newspapers, too … To me, education is key to everything. If we don’t tell the story, who will?”

Helping Others Break the Glass Ceiling
Dr. Chisholm-Burns acknowledges that women and minorities sometimes have different challenges to become leaders. Because of this, each female and minority pharmacist in a leadership position tends to hold outsized influence for those coming up in the profession. “When you don’t see leaders who resemble you, you think it’s impossible to do,” she noted. “But if you see a woman leader, it can spark the thought, ‘I can do that too.’”

Although breaking the glass ceiling is important, Dr. Chisholm-Burns believes it is merely the first step on a long journey toward professional leadership; having mentors, sponsors, and role models along the way is a critical component of being successful. “Remember,” she added, “success is a journey, not a destination.” And along the journey, Dr. Chisholm-Burns believes in the power of giving back.

“It’s all about helping others go through that door that you helped to open” and understanding the special issues that women face, such as balancing work and family. She acknowledges that there is still disparity in terms of family roles that can make it challenging to climb the career ladder.

“A woman with three children is going to have different professional challenges than her counterparts who may not have children,” she said, acknowledging that, although the culture is changing to accommodate work-life balance, it’s changing slowly.

The concept of workforce inclusivity is a topic that also warrants more attention, according to Dr. Chisholm-Burns. Although diversity has increased in the pharmacy profession, inclusivity that ensures a clear path to leadership and that draws on the talents of all women still lags behind. “Inclusivity means asking, ‘How can I make this young parent feel like she doesn’t need to choose between family and serving on this board?’”

Dr. Chisholm-Burns recommends that pharmacy leaders take a birds-eye view of management within their organizations to understand the trends for advancement of women in pharmacy leadership. “We need to look at the higher-level jobs and see who fills them and at what age,” she said. “For years, a large percentage of graduating pharmacy classes has been women. Given this, why are there so few women hospital directors or CEOs?”

According to Dr. Chisholm-Burns, the pharmacy profession needs to begin examining the issues of inclusivity and career advancement options for women. She also believes that organizations like ASHP are in the best position to facilitate those conversations.

Follow Your Passion
Dr. Chisholm-Burns has some sage advice for student pharmacists, new practitioners, or seasoned pharmacists who may be considering a career in academia: Follow your passion. “If your passion is teaching, ask yourself ‘why?’ Is it the investigating, discovering, changing students’ lives? Is publishing something you want to do? Then academia may be the place for you,” she said.

And, in looking back at her career, Dr. Chisholm-Burns finds great value in her academic path. “I always wanted to go someplace where I’d make the biggest contribution, and academia has been that for me. It’s been a wonderful journey.”


–By Ann W. Latner, J.D.

September 16, 2016

Advancing Pharmacists’ Prescribing

Paul W. Abramowitz, Pharm.D., Sc.D. (Hon.), FASHP

Paul W. Abramowitz, Pharm.D., Sc.D. (Hon.), FASHP

AJHP, ASHP’s PEER-REVIEWED SCIENTIFIC JOURNAL, continues to support our members’ efforts to provide optimal patient care with its second theme issue, the September 15 issue on Prescribing. As we work to improve the quality of the U.S. healthcare system, one of the keys to accomplishing this goal is to emphasize the continued use of pharmacists as the healthcare team members who are responsible and accountable for prescribing medications.

As you know, the concept of pharmacists as prescribers is not new, but it is a concept that has gained some traction in recent years. Given our education and training on the science and therapeutic use of drugs, pharmacists are uniquely qualified to prescribe medications. Although controversy still may exist around the concept of pharmacists as prescribers, an optimal solution is an interdependent prescribing model — in the context of team-based care — that employs pharmacists vetted through credentialing and privileging processes. This is a solution that involves pharmacists, physicians, and nurses working together in a professional partnership to optimize patient outcomes. Pharmacists’ prescribing privileges should be limited to appropriately trained and credentialed pharmacists who have access to the patient as well as the complete medical record, and who actively participate with physicians and nurses as members of a healthcare team.

The current AJHP theme issue focused on Pharmacist Prescribing provides a comprehensive view of various approaches to pharmacists’ prescribing activities, including a compelling article on clinical privileging practices at The Johns Hopkins Health System, The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, and Truman Medical Centers. There are also extremely insightful articles on pharmacist prescribing practices at the Veterans Health Administration, University of Washington/Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, University of North Carolina Medical Center, Virginia Mason Medical Center, University of Utah College of Pharmacy, and Kaiser Permanente. There’s a great article on the approach Canada has taken to pharmacist prescribing, and one on improvements to Ohio’s state collaborative practice act. The articles in this edition of AJHP represent many others examples around the country. This issue will undoubtedly prove to be a must-read and reference for all pharmacists who seek to advance their practice now and in the future.

I hope you enjoy the array of perspectives provided in this theme issue of AJHP and share my enthusiasm about how far pharmacy practice has advanced over the years and what is yet to come. ASHP and its members have played a major role in these advancements, and we should all be very proud!

The Prescribing issue is the second of three theme issues planned for 2016. The first, focused on Specialty Pharmacy, was published on June 1. On December 1, AJHP will publish a theme issue that provides a comprehensive review of pharmacists’ roles in Pharmacogenomics.

Thank you for all that you do on behalf of your patients and the profession.


September 6, 2016

New ASHP Critical Care and Pediatric Pharmacy Review Courses Expand Pharmacists’ Options

Board certification is becoming increasingly important to pharmacists in their careers. To help pharmacists prepare for the Board of Pharmacy Specialties (BPS) certification examinations, ASHP has expanded its review and recertification courses to include pediatrics and critical care. The courses join those for ambulatory care, pharmacotherapy, and oncology.

Sandra Oh Clarke, R.Ph.

Sandra Oh Clarke, R.Ph.

“Getting board certified can help with healthcare organization privileges,” said Sandra Oh Clarke, R.Ph., ASHP’s Senior Director of Certification Resources. “Many institutions are starting to ask for employees who provide direct patient care to be certified if a certification exists for their specialty, and some states are even using specialty certification as one of the criteria for practitioners to obtain provider status.”

ASHP has a long history as a strong supporter of board certification and has petitioned for six of the eight BPS specialties — ambulatory care, nutrition, oncology, psychiatric, pediatrics, and critical care. ASHP is currently involved with the development of petitions for cardiology, infectious diseases, and sterile compounding. In addition to providing resources for exam preparation, ASHP’s professional development programs for recertification are recognized by BPS and the Commission for Certification in Geriatric Pharmacy (CCGP).

A Competitive Edge
Jennifer Thackray, Pharm.D., BCPPS, BCPS, Pediatric Oncology Clinical Pharmacy Specialist in the Department of Pharmacy, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, agreed that becoming credentialed is the first step in becoming a provider. “Medicare and Medicaid will not just recognize us as providers because we want them to. There must be some kind of certification and credentialing process in place by healthcare organizations,” said Thackray, who is an instructor for ASHP’s Pediatric Pharmacy Specialty Certification Review Course.

Paul M. Szumita, Pharm.D., BCCCP, BCPS, FCCM

Paul M. Szumita, Pharm.D., BCCCP, BCPS, FCCM

Paul M. Szumita, Pharm.D., BCCCP, BCPS, FCCM, Clinical Pharmacy Practice Manager and Director of the PGY2 Critical Care Pharmacy Residency at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, said that certification can give pharmacists a competitive edge in seeking employment. “Board certification is not the whole picture, but it is looked upon highly, particularly in a subspecialty like critical care. All else being equal, the board-certified person has a leg up on the competition,” said Szumita, an instructor in the Critical Care Pharmacy Specialty Review Course. “As board certification has become more and more common, it’s clear that pharmacists are providing more consistent patient care and moving higher and higher in terms of clinical practice.”

Szumita noted that board certification may put pharmacists on more solid footing as members of interprofessional teams. “Since board certification is such a longstanding credential in the medical field, hospitals and health systems will be seeking pharmacists who have certifications in specific subspecialties.”

Building on Knowledge
ASHP’s review courses are both intensive and intense: 16 hours in two days. Because they’re so compact, and because BPS can require up to three years of clinical experience (depending on the specialty) before one can sit for a certification examination, the courses are more about identifying a pharmacist’s weak spots than about imparting new knowledge, said Oh Clarke.

“The courses are fast and furious. Because of that, there’s no time to actually teach new material. We assume learners have met the eligibility requirements to sit for the exam,” Oh Clarke said. “ASHP’s courses are more about helping learners identify knowledge gaps that they can strengthen through further study on their own.”

The courses parallel the objectives of the examinations, added Thackray. “BPS has set out domain, task, and knowledge points for the exams, so we mapped them out to every session in our review course — this is in Domain 1, Task 2, Points 4 and 5, etc. This keeps us on track with the requirements of the exam.”

Beyond the Examination
The most important aspect of board certification is what it does for patients, said Oh Clarke, resulting in “better care by allowing pharmacists to practice at the highest level possible.”

Jennifer Thackray, Pharm.D., BCPPS, BCPS

Jennifer Thackray, Pharm.D., BCPPS, BCPS

ASHP’s review and recertification courses reflect that emphasis on patient care in their design, said Thackray. “All of the lectures within the course are driven by patient cases to keep the learners engaged. I don’t just lecture on tumor types and chemotherapy,” she said. “We start the complex case with a patient who is diagnosed with leukemia, and then we walk through all the complications that the patient has, the treatment, the nuances. It’s never as simple as a patient having just one issue.”

The way the ASHP courses handle practice questions sets them apart from other courses, Thackray added. “We give the rationale for every answer, why one answer is correct and another is incorrect, with the data to support those conclusions.”

According to Szumita, the critical care review course focuses on specific aspects of patient care and is unique because of how close it is to the patient encounters that pharmacists would actually face in their own practices. “We start with patients first and create a seamless case that would happen in real life,” he said.

Overall, the knowledge that pharmacists take away from preparing for board certification has helped keep pharmacists on the cutting edge of care, according to Szumita. “Most practitioners who get certified want to keep that certification up, so they are continually getting educated on the topic of their certification,” he said. “The reality is that even the most seasoned critical care pharmacist would benefit from certification.”

–By Terri D’Arrigo

Powered by WordPress