ASHP InterSections ASHP InterSections

March 28, 2011

Gazing into the Crystal Ball

Illustrated by Matt Sweitzer ©2011 ASHP

AS PHARMACY PRACTICE EVOLVES from a profession that primarily supervises medication distribution to one that provides services such as medication therapy management and disease prevention, one of the main questions that remains unanswered is, “how long will this transformation take?”

Although no one can predict how fast it will happen or what path it will take, practice model change is being driven by economic realities, safety and quality concerns, political influences, and pharmacists who desire to be more involved in the care of patients in their institutions.

David Chen, ASHP’s director of pharmacy practice sections, said that despite the fact that pharmacists provide direct patient care in many practice settings across the country, services offered and distribution are uneven.

“We know that outcomes are better for patients when there is pharmacist involvement, but now we have to support pharmacy practice leaders in determining the most effective way to implement pharmacy, technicians, and technology in their settings,” he said.

Although each hospital and health system will need to tailor practice models to meet its own goals, the consensus is that there is ample opportunity for pharmacists to shape the future of their profession. Many have already begun to seize the day.

Work Flow and Collaboration

Pharmacists’ success in providing direct patient care hinges on their ability to collaborate with other health professionals. As part of its patient-centered practice model, the University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics has decentralized its pharmacy staff. Every pharmacist is assigned to a unit or group of patients for which he or she provides medication order review, pharmacokinetic dosing, medication reconciliation, and medication education.

“This model forges relationships between pharmacists and physicians and establishes trust between pharmacists and medical staff,” said Steve Rough, M.S., B.S.Pharm, director of pharmacy. “Medical staff comes to trust that we are consistently going to optimize what is best for the patient’s care in the process of making our recommendations.”

Rough added that demonstrating value and accountability ensures continued pharmacist involvement in multidisciplinary teams. “When we need buy-in for integrating pharmacists into a new care team or service, we prepare a succinct business case demonstrating the value proposition for the hospital,” he said. “Then, once we add additional pharmacist resources to the budget, we document and present the promised outcomes.”


Technology has been a boon to pharmacists by increasing patient medication safety and enabling pharmacists to delegate task-oriented work to highly trained pharmacy technicians. Automation such as robotic dispensing cabinets frees up pharmacists’ time, while analytics enhance clinical decisions.

Christopher R. Fortier, Pharm.D., manager of pharmacy support and services and clinical assistant professor in the Department of Pharmacy Services at the Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, notes the increasing importance of mobile technology in the hospital setting.

“Remote and mobile technologies such as iPads, tablets, and smart phones enable us to take information with us to the patient’s bedside,” said Fortier. “We’re not stuck behind a desktop computer, and with real-time information at hand, we don’t have to go to five different places to get information and provide care to patients.”

Barbara Giacomelli, Pharm.D., M.B.A., director of pharmacy at Shore Memorial Hospital in Vineland, N.J., believes pharmacists are well suited to take leadership roles in developing technology for use in practice models.

“We can partner with medical staff in developing rules and setting up order entry screens to be user-friendly and provide the correct levels of alerts,” she said.

Informatics is an expanding field in which pharmacists will find plenty of opportunity, Giacomelli added. “Most of the people I have spoken with have developed into an informatics role by having a strong interest in it,” she said. “However, if you don’t have a pharmacist who understands it, you’ll have to recruit for it. There are limited resources out there, but this specialization is in demand, and the demand will only increase with time.”

Pharmacist Education

If new pharmacy practice models are to take hold, it is critical that pharmacy students and residents are prepared for the hands-on work in direct patient care that awaits them. At the University of Colorado in Aurora, students and residents work together with pharmacists. Residents assist with consultations, particularly with respect to chronic disease states such as hypertension, dyslipidemia, and diabetes. Students assist with data collection and medication reconciliation to the extent allowed by law.

“While students can’t practice independently, they are licensed interns and can certainly provide a significant amount of help in providing clinical patient care under the guidance of pharmacists,” said Joseph Saseen, Pharm.D., FCCP, BCPS, professor at the University of Colorado Schools of Pharmacy and Medicine, Aurora. “They can do more than just shadow. “Students must be supervised, but collecting data, providing medication reconciliation, interpreting patient care data, and drafting clinical recommendations are all valuable roles that can be filled by students.”

According to Rough, of the University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics, residents offer an excellent return on investment, particularly when it comes to the aforementioned technology.

“We have 16 pharmacy residents on board, and everything we do involves them,” he said. “The complexity of drug preparation and distribution technology oversight has increased drastically over the last five years. Overseeing pharmacy operations is now seen as a patient care role, and we are currently developing residents with expertise in that area.”

Evolving Technician Roles

Pharmacy technicians with the appropriate education, training, and credentials stand poised to take on more responsibility and perform tasks that were once solely the domain of pharmacists. By dispensing medications, taking prescriptions over the phone, and documenting patients’ medication information for pharmacist review, technicians free up pharmacists’ time for direct patient care.

“When you talk about staffing and resources, you have to ask where you get the most value out of each of the key participants,” said Brian T. Marden, Pharm.D., director of pharmacy at Maine Medical Center in Portland. “Clearly, a pharmacist’s best value is direct patient care, but unfortunately, in many systems that does not happen because a lot of pharmacists are still doing things that well-trained technicians could do easily and safely.”

According to Marden, pharmacists have to be prepared to let go of traditional nonclinical roles, and pharmacy leaders should create the technician infrastructure to allow for it.

“One strategy that has proven to be very effective for Maine Medical Center was the decision two years ago to hire the necessary staff to decentralize our pharmacy technicians,” he said, adding that the decision “created a sense of pride amongst our technicians that they were truly having a positive impact on patient care, right on the front lines.”

Education is of the utmost importance, not only for getting value from pharmacy technicians but also for maintaining adequate staffing, Rough believes. He speaks from experience.

“We had problems with tech turnover,” Rough said. “When we went to Human Resources, we learned that during exit interviews, the techs said that the job was not professional enough, and that they didn’t feel adequately trained for the work we were demanding of them.

“So, we made a business case for expanding technician training, showing how it was an investment in patient care,” he said. Now the University of Wisconsin system offers a nine-month ASHP-accredited pharmacy technician program.

“If you are looking for ways that pharmacists can take care of a larger population without adding more staff, the key is technician education,” Rough added.

Learning From Best Practices

The future of pharmacy depends on making the most of the resources you have, said ASHP’S Chen. “There aren’t unlimited resources, so the question comes back to, What is the most effective way to deploy allocated staff and technology? We can learn from best practices in the field, and, while recognizing that every hospital will be at a different point in the process and every state has different laws, working together, we can determine the best direction for the profession.”

Editor’s Note

In 2009, ASHP and the ASHP Foundation launched the Pharmacy Practice Model Initiative (PPMI), with the goal of developing new practice models that support the most effective use of pharmacists as direct patient care providers. Last November, thought leaders throughout hospital and health- system pharmacy came together at the PPMI Summit in Dallas to take stock of the Initiative’s progress, discuss challenges and opportunities in pharmacy, and reach consensus on next steps. In the above article, InterSections talks with some of the key leaders who attended the Summit to get their thoughts on what the future of the profession might hold.

December 18, 2009

MUSC Residency Program Celebrates 50th Anniversary


Margaret Blair Bobo

MARGARET BLAIR BOBO was literally in a class by herself when she enrolled in the inaugural pharmacy residency program at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) Medical Center in Charleston in 1958.Fresh out of the MUSC pharmacy school, where she was the only female in her graduating class, Bobo found being the program’s solo resident an exhilarating learning experience.

“My year there probably was the most monumental in my life,” Bobo said. “I had no pharmacy work experience, so I learned everything. I was a sponge.”

Bobo, who went on to join the MUSC staff as a pharmacist and assistant professor, is joining other alumni this year to celebrate the 50th anniversary of one of the country’s oldest residency programs. More than 450 pharmacists, have completed the ASHP-accredited program, a collaboration between the Medical Center and the South Carolina College of Pharmacy at the MUSC campus.

Over the years, the MUSC residency program has evolved into a multi-faceted program that is nationally known for the advanced practice experiences it offers. More than 40 clinical preceptors oversee the work of an average of 20 post-graduate year 1 (PGY1) and PGY2 pharmacy residents. About 200 pharmacy students apply for the available slots, of which only 60 are chosen for interviews.


MUSC's residency program is one of the most well-known in the country.

MUSC’s residency program is one of the most well-known in the country.

Changing with the Times

William H. Golod, M.S., Ph.D., the program’s pharmacy and residency program director from 1959 to 1965, is credited by many with helping to triple the number of MUSC residents by the 1980s.

That growth in residents has translated into more pharmacy care for more patients and improved patient outcomes, said Wayne Weart, Pharm.D., FASHP, professor of clinical pharmacy and outcome sciences at the South Carolina College of Pharmacy and professor of family medicine at MUSC College of Medicine. He completed a residency at MUSC in 1972.

The growth means that MUSC is “training more residents who go out and apply the high level of care they learn in our program,” said Weart. “We have over 400 alumni who are doing great things all over the country.”

“When I was there, I’m not sure I appreciated how far we had come” from the program’s initial founding in 1958, he noted.

By the time Ray became director, the program had already developed a “strong clinical flavor,” he said. At that time, residents joined daily hospital rounds with medical teams.

Today, the MUSC program boasts an array of disciplines, from psychiatric pharmacy to ambulatory care to adult internal medicine. That variety helps residents find their niches and sharpen the skills that today’s pharmacists need to work on healthcare teams, said Paul W. Bush, Pharm.D., M.B.A., FASHP, director of pharmacy and graduate pharmacy education at MUSC.

“With 23 residency positions, I think our program contributes in a large way to the enhanced role pharmacists enjoy in healthcare today,” Bush said. Today’s residents mentor pharmacy students, educate fellow clinicians and patients about medication therapy, and participate in drug-use review and drug policy development and management.

“It’s important to note that MUSC’s residency program has been ASHP-accredited since 1963. The fact that it has met such rigorous standards for so long speaks to the quality of the programs required of the residents,” said Janet Teeters, M.S., director of ASHP’s accreditation services division.

ASHP has been accrediting pharmacy residency programs to ensure consistent training and improve the level of practice since 1963. The Society will reach its own milestone—1,000 accredited programs—this year.

Current MUSC resident Michael DeCoske, Pharm.D., is thankful he has been able to experience so many facets of pharmacy before choosing his career path.

“It’s a great environment to start off a career in pharmacy,” he said. “You receive a lot of great career guidance. If I had never come here, I might have been off doing a specialty that wasn’t the best fit for me.”

Stamp of Approval: ASHP Residency Accreditation Assures Quality

AS PART OF THEIR QUEST for ASHP accreditation in 2007, pharmacy leaders at Deaconess Health System in Evansville, Indiana, decided they needed to do something bold and innovative. They sent residents to the poverty-stricken community of Annotto Bay, Jamaica, to work with a team of pharmacists, physicians, and others on an international mission that many pharmacists might never experience.

In turn, Society surveyors praised Deaconess for offering residents creative patient-care training that benefited a needy community. ASHP accredited the program in August 2007.

“The surveyors were impressed with the flexibility of our program and the fact that we are able to provide opportunities outside the scope of our hospital,” said Joyce Thomas, Pharm.D., CACP, Deaconess pharmacy director.

The experience in Annotto Bay taught then-resident Andrea Tuma, Pharm.D., the ways in which cultural barriers can affect medication counseling.

“Americans are so used to the idea of seeing a doctor and taking medications, but these patients didn’t have the same access,” Tuma said, recalling her initial struggles. “My experience drove home the point that counseling is a two-way interaction, and that you have to listen as much as you talk.”

Reaching a Milestone

Thomas’s work in enhancing her residency program is an example of how ASHP accreditation helps raise the bar in training pharmacists as they move from pharmacy school to careers in hospitals and health systems.

This year, ASHP will accredit the 1,000th residency program to undergo its rigorous accreditation process since the program’s start in 1963. This important milestone for ASHP—the only organization that accredits pharmacy residency program —reveals how broadly accreditation has spread. It also highlights the far-reaching program improvements that often accompany this process.

ASHP believes so deeply in the value of accredited residencies, in fact, that its House of Delegates passed a resolution on the issue in 2007. The resolution states that by 2020, all new pharmacy graduates who will be providing direct patient care should first complete an ASHP-accredited residency.

“I think ASHP members realize that accreditation has been a huge value for our profession,” said Janet Teeters, M.S., B.S.Pharm., director of ASHP accreditation services, adding that accredited residency programs exist in hospitals, clinics, home health care, community pharmacies, and ?managed care organizations. “Accreditation really pushes the profession forward, making these sites strive to improve their training and clinical pharmacy services.”

ASHP survey reports, for instance, may recommend more diverse pharmacy services to match a diverse patient population, leading health systems to create specialized clinics for anticoagulation, diabetes, heart failure, or asthma.

“We often see reports of people hiring more staff, implementing new clinical services, putting in automation, or redesigning their work areas as a result of our visits,” Teeters said. “The peer review findings or recommendations in the accreditation reports often help pharmacy directors gain the resources they need.”

Those reports start with surveyors like David Warner, Pharm.D., ASHP director of residency program development. Warner travels up to 140 days a year, surveying residency programs and conducting other related work across the U.S. and in Puerto Rico.

ASHP surveyors meet with pharmacy residents, pharmacists, technicians, physicians, nurses, hospital administrators, and many others during the program review. They critique a variety of elements, including the way that residents are trained and evaluated.

ASHP surveyors judge programs using a core set of seven principles, including determining if the program:

• Uses a systems-based approach to train residents,
• Has well-qualified preceptors and program directors,
• Offers comprehensive, safe, and effective pharmacy services, and
• Requires a commitment from its residents to achieve the program’s educational goals and objectives and support the organization’s missions and values.

Warner and other surveyors emphasize the importance of teaching and mentoring residents as well as teamwork within the setting. “We look for the relationship that the pharmacy has with other professions,” he said. “Do physicians and pharmacists collaborate in patient-care decisions?”

In 2008, ASHP conducted more than 230 on-site survey visits. More than 130 of those were new programs. Those figures show the continuous growth in accreditation since the Society bestowed its first accreditation certificate to the program at Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia in 1963. By 1964, 33 programs had been accredited.

Attracting Future Residents

Thomas sought accreditation after a discussion with a colleague in which she learned that most potential residents are interested in accredited programs.

“When recruiting, I find that residents are looking for accredited programs because they are quality programs backed by ASHP,” she said, adding that the accreditation process led to other inventive learning opportunities. Thomas wanted her residents to teach at a university, so she collaborated with Butler University College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences in Indianapolis to make it happen.

Meredith Petty, Pharm.D., clinical supervisor and residency program director at Deaconess, agrees that accreditation makes all the difference in recruiting and retaining residents.

“If I were a resident and taking an extra year to learn and develop myself, I’d want to be in a program that’s accredited,” she said, pointing to the fact that accredited programs are held to a higher standard.

The accreditation process can be done in a year or it can take place across multiple years. This all depends on how fast organizations develop their programs. ASHP will only conduct accreditation site surveys for those programs that have been operating with a resident for at least nine months.

Chris Taylor, Pharm.D., BCPS, clinical pharmacist at the Phoenix VA Healthcare System, believes accreditation can be a boost for program visibility. His accredited post-graduate year two (PGY2) residency program in internal medicine benefits from being listed on the ASHP’s popular online Residency Directory.

“Only accredited programs are included in the directory, so recruitment can be much more difficult if you’re unaccredited,” Taylor said.

Like the program at Deaconess, new training opportunities came with Taylor’s pursuit of accreditation. Taking the advice of surveyors, Taylor now conducts workshops for resident preceptors, including one that is designed to teach preceptors how to complete quality resident evaluations.

ASHP provides preceptors with many resources, including its National Residency Preceptors Con?ference. Held every other year, the conference brings together preceptors, residency program directors, and residents who network and participate in educational sessions.

Searching for Accredited Residencies

After she graduated from The James L. Winkle College of Pharmacy at the University of Cincinnati in 2006, Danielle Patrick, Pharm.D., was only interested in residency programs that had successfully made it through ASHP’s rigorous accreditation process. Patrick graduated from her PGY2 residency in critical care at University Hospital in Cincinnati in 2008.

“The paperwork, reports and evaluations are all part of a continual process in which the program is trying to improve,” Patrick said. “The value of accreditation to me is that I know I’m getting a great education and that I’ll be well-qualified based on the fact that I finished an accredited program.”

Midway through her PGY2 residency in pharmacy administration at Aurora Health Care in Wisconsin, Ashley Feldt, Pharm.D., said she takes real comfort in knowing that her residency program is ASHP-accredited.

“It makes me feel real positive that surveyors are reviewing a program to make sure there are enough preceptors to train residents and that they are committed to the program,” she said. The surveyors also indicated that Aurora’s operations are cutting edge, a plus for Feldt.

“We are in the process of implementing computer prescription order entry and bar-coding, the best practice for patient safety,” she said.

In her exploration of 2010 PGY1 residency programs, Angela Bingham, a student at the South Carolina College of Pharmacy at the Medical University of South Carolina campus in Charleston, is mindful that health systems are on the lookout for future employees who complete accredited residencies.

“When entering the job market, employers want to be confident that new employees can provide direct patient care that comes from accredited residency training,” she said.

No accreditation? No funding, says VA

?If you want to start a pharmacy residency program at any U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical center, you better ensure that it is accredited by ASHP. That’s because the VA requires its residency programs to be accredited in order to receive federal funding.

“There has to be a guarantee that the funding is used correctly and within professional standards, and accreditation is key to ensuring that that will occur,” said Lori Golterman, Pharm.D, clinical specialist in pharmacy benefits management services at the VA Central Office in Washington, D.C. “ASHP has supported our programs a great deal and helped us grow the quality programs that we have.”

The VA has an estimated 120 accredited programs, and trains about 22 percent of all pharmacy residents in the U.S., she said. More than 430 residents were enrolled in VA residencies in 2008.

The VA is assessing its medical centers without pharmacy residency programs to determine how they can implement the programs at those centers, Golterman said. Pharmacy residencies are offered at 89 of the VA’s 155 centers.

All new VA pharmacy residency programs must submit their ASHP accreditation survey reports to Golterman’s office. Report results are shared with all program directors to ensure a continual improvement process.

Golterman’s office has requested VA funding for an additional 80 residency positions over the next five years. She attributes the need for more positions to a rise in both the number of pharmacy schools and actual graduates.

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