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September 28, 2021

Pharmacogenomics: Trailblazers Welcome

Amanda Elchynski, Pharm.D.

AMANDA ELCHYNSKI, PHARM.D., HAD AN ‘AH-HA’ MOMENT in her third year of pharmacy school. During her studies, she worked as a community pharmacy intern, counseling patients, and performing all of the other duties of a pharmacist. Like many other pharmacists and health care providers, she also became frustrated seeing patients respond inconsistently to their medications.

A New Career Direction

“During that same year, I took a course on pharmacogenomics, and it really opened my eyes as to why the patients I was seeing were having these variable responses,” said Dr. Elchynski, who at the time, was a clinical pharmacogenetics fellow at the Center for Pharmacogenomics and Precision Medicine, Department of Pharmacotherapy and Translational Research at the University of Florida (UF) College of Pharmacy. She pointed to research showing that genes may account for up to 95% of the variability in response to medications and that a growing number of gene-drug pairs can help guide prescribing to optimize treatment efficacy and safety.

After realizing the value of pharmacogenomics in patient care, Dr. Elchynski completed a rotation in pharmacogenomics in the outpatient setting, where she reviewed results directly with patients and found that many patients were relieved to understand why their medication wasn’t working or was causing side effects.

“Finding out the results also made patients more amenable to changing medications,” noted Dr. Elchynski, who is now a Pharmacogenomics Coordinator at Arkansas Children’s Hospital. “I want to deliver this up-and-coming care approach and also help expand it from being available only to select groups and locations to being widely used as a standard of care,” she said.

While pharmacogenomics is an exciting and cutting-edge field, one of Dr. Elchynski’s preceptors said that, partly because they have limited exposure to the topic during their studies, only a small subset of students wants to enter a career in the field.

Educational Programs in Pharmacogenomics

Emily Cicali, Pharm.D

“It’s hard to think about pursuing something as a career path if you only hear about it for two or three hours in your entire pharmacy curriculum,” said Emily Cicali, Pharm.D., clinical assistant professor in the department of pharmacotherapy and translational research at UF College of Pharmacy.

She said pharmacogenomics is spread throughout the didactic pharmacy curriculum at UF because “it is a concept that transcends any specific disease state.” UF pharmacy students learn about the topic through core courses as well as elective opportunities, like a clinical application course, a summer intensive research program for students in the Pharm.D. program, a fourth-year pharmacogenomics elective advanced practice rotation, and pharmacogenomics residencies and fellowships, she said. The residency/fellowship offers pharmacists the opportunity “to live and breathe everything pharmacogenomics,” Dr. Cicali explained.

“Once residents gain baseline knowledge of the topic, they start writing consult notes, either in the form of recommendations for clinical interventions or as part of a clinical trial,” she explained. “And every resident does a deep dive into one gene-drug pair and creates a best practice alert for providers in the electronic health record, and they participate in a research project that’s pharmacogenomics related.”

Pharmacists considering a career in pharmacogenomics can look forward to employing both clinical and research skills, Dr. Cicali enthused. “It’s an evolving field, so you can combine skillsets in really interesting ways, like collecting metrics for clinical practice in order to show growth and sustainability of the program,” she said. “Every day is different, which is one of my favorite things about this work.”

Encouraging Patient-Learners

To help pique his own students’ interest in the field, ASHP Fellow George E. MacKinnon III, R.Ph., Ph.D., M.S., Founding Dean of the School of Pharmacy and professor in the genomic sciences and precision medicine center at the Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, and his colleagues have created a first-year pharmacy class on pharmacogenomics that turns students into “patient-learners.”

Julie Johnson, Pharm.D.

In addition to presenting the course material through conventional pedagogical approaches, students submit their own saliva for pharmacogenomics testing if they are willing to do so. They then discuss the results with their peers, focusing on the relevance of the results to their or their families’ medication histories, Dr. MacKinnon explained.

“Getting some perspective as to what this testing really means gets students very excited about the topic,” he said. “The reality is that 97% of us have a clinically significant gene variant that could result in sub-optimal therapy or side effects, and these could be mitigated if we guide treatment with pharmacogenomics.”

MacKinnon is confident the field will attract an increasing number of students and pharmacists, given the growing importance he expects it to play in clinical practice.

“I think it will become our bread and butter and no different than what we started doing 30 years ago in the hospital setting, when pharmacists began pharmacokinetic monitoring in our patients receiving anti-infectives, theophylline, and other agents that were managed for optimal outcomes and reduced toxicities,” said Dr. MacKinnon.

Opportunities and Professional Growth

Trained graduates with expertise in pharmacogenomics can expect a growing number of job opportunities, agreed long-time ASHP member Julie Johnson, Pharm.D., Dean and Distinguished Professor of the UF College of Pharmacy said.

“The number of health systems hiring people with this expertise in the field is rapidly expanding,” she said, noting that UF has 16 faculty members focused on the clinical and research aspects of pharmacogenomics.

“I see a lot of demand moving forward, but if pharmacists are not there to lead pharmacogenomics at an institution, [administrative] leaders will turn to nurses or physicians or genetic counselors to do so,” she noted. “For people who are creative, innovative, and entrepreneurial, I think there are a ton of ways to be a trailblazer, like implementing pharmacogenomics in the healthcare setting, being a leader in research or working in the private sector to develop tools to help advance the field.”

 

By David Wild

 

 

September 8, 2021

Pharmacists at the Helm of Pharmacogenomics Efforts

Pat Peters and his daughter, Trish Brown

AFTER SUFFERING A HEART ATTACK IN 2014, Pat Peters needed a percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) – a procedure that many Americans undergo each year. However, unlike most other patients, Peters was lucky to have a seasoned genetic counselor and pharmacogenomics advocate by his side.

Pharmacogenomics Impact

“When my dad’s physician placed an order for clopidogrel as antiplatelet therapy, I knew from a pharmacogenomics test that he was one of the [small number] of the population that are CYP2C19 poor metabolizers, so clopidogrel would have been ineffective for him,” said Pat’s daughter, Trish Brown, who is director of AMR Payer Partnerships and Field Market Access at Illumina, a genetic sequencing company based in San Diego.

With over 20 years of experience in the genomics industry, Brown knew pharmacogenomics could immensely improve treatment decisions and improve the likelihood a drug will be safe and effective. With that in mind, she had her father’s genome preemptively tested for known gene-drug pairs. When it came time for the discussion with the cardiologist about post-PCI antiplatelet therapy, Brown informed the physician of her father’s CYP2C19 status.

“Thankfully, the cardiologist accepted the genomic results and chose an alternative agent, but unfortunately, there was no place to include the test results in the EHR other than as a PDF attached to a clinical encounter, where it would really just sit and not be seen,” Brown said, noting the hospital also did not have any staff that knew how to order or interpret genetic test results.

Pioneering Pharmacogenomics

Peters’ experience stands in contrast to the care pharmacists at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, help provide. For the past 30 years, pharmacists have been incorporating pharmacogenomics results to help their physicians make the best treatment decisions possible.

Mary Relling, Pharm.D.

Although the hospital’s patient population is almost entirely pediatric, there was one instance where pharmacogenomics proved invaluable when a patient needed antiplatelet therapy, explained Mary Relling, Pharm.D., who holds an endowed chair in the Department of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at the hospital.

“This particular patient was ordered clopidogrel, and we had tested her CYP2C19 status in advance and found she lacked the gene needed to activate clopidogrel. Thus the drug would have been ineffective for preventing stroke,” said Dr. Relling, who spoke during a Pharmacogenomics Virtual Summit jointly organized by ASHP and the American Medical Association.

Avoiding potentially ineffective care in this patient “goes to show that while it’s usually a minority of the population that has a high-risk genotype, for that small percentage of patients, pharmacogenomics testing can yield a really big benefit,” she said.

Pharmacogenomics is deeply embedded at St. Jude, with Dr. Relling and her team regularly testing for genes like thiopurine methyltransferase (TPMT) and CYP2D6, which affect the metabolism of medications more commonly used there, like thiopurines for leukemia and codeine for pain.

Implementing Actionable Findings

Since 2011, pharmacists at St. Jude leading the PG4KDS program have tested for hundreds of gene variants and used those genetic data to improve medication efficacy and safety outcomes. They have so far enrolled nearly 6,000 patients and implemented 14 genes affecting 66 drugs, Dr. Relling said.

“We want to implement as many actionable findings into the electronic health record as we can, along with decision support tools, and we want to provide specific recommendations to help make better treatment decisions,” explained Dr. Relling.

One of Dr. Relling’s most significant contributions to the field of pharmacogenomics was co-founding the Clinical Pharmacogenetics Implementation Consortium (CPIC) in 2009. The 400 members of CPIC, from 269 institutions in 36 countries, generate peer-reviewed and evidence-based guidelines for providers, pharmacists, and laboratories to follow.

“We want to make these guidelines freely available to whichever institutions and laboratories want to incorporate pharmacogenomics into routine care,” Dr. Relling said. She noted that while institutions using pharmacogenomics are in the minority today, “the number is slowly growing.”

Incorporating Findings in the EHR

While Dr. Relling and her CPIC partners are developing guidelines for pharmacogenomics-based decision making, affiliates of the Implementing Genomics in Practice (IGNITE) Consortium are focusing on how best to incorporate and implement these results into the healthcare workflow.

At the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine, which is an IGNITE affiliate, Nita Limdi, Pharm.D., Ph.D., MSPH, director of the program for translational pharmacogenomics and associate director of the Hugh Kaul Precision Medicine Institute, and her colleagues are documenting what they believe will be better outcomes when genomic information is used to guide the treatment of patients like Pat Brown undergoing PCI.

To improve the chances that pharmacogenomics results are integrated into the treatment decision-making process, Dr. Limdi and a health system informatics team are developing a “genomic medicine landing page” in their EHR, where pharmacogenomic results and recommendations will be housed.

“Our position has always been that once you find something that is important to patient care, you put it in the hands of clinicians,” said Dr. Limdi, an ASHP member.

Preemptive Whole Panel Testing

Dr. Limdi hopes to further expand use of pharmacogenomics at her institution through in-house whole-panel preemptive and reactive testing. She and her team are in the process of validating the system and plan to offer it to all hospital service lines.

Nita Limdi, Pharm.D., Ph.D., MSPH

“While most testing has been done reactively— for a patient who has not responded to treatment with an antidepressant, for example — I believe it will become fairly routine to do whole-panel testing preemptively,”Dr. Limdi said.

Dr. Limdi’s conviction that pharmacogenomics holds great value is partly rooted in her experience as a pharmacist specializing in neurosciences, when she observed patients inconsistently responding to drugs like warfarin and anti-epileptics.

“Coming from that service line gave me a really deep appreciation for how much of the variability in drug response can be accounted for by genomic factors and how useful it is to have that genomic information in the patient’s record,” she said.

Pharmacogenomics Pharmacist Teams

In another effort to increase the use of pharmacogenomics at her institution, Dr. Limdi is building a team of specialized pharmacogenomics pharmacists who will lead testing efforts at her hospital. An innovative part of the model is that these pharmacogenomics pharmacists will mentor clinical pharmacists in the use of pharmacogenomics as it applies to their specialty.

“The idea is to have our pharmacogenomics service line start by doing all the initial genotype interpretation and consults, but as they hand off those results to clinical pharmacists embedded in different units, they will also shepherd them so they can be proficient in interpreting results on their own,” said Dr. Limdi.

If the model proves successful, it could be adopted at other institutions to integrate pharmacogenomics testing into routine clinical care, she suggested. As the demand for pharmacogenomics services increases, a highly specialized pharmacogenomics service team would be free to manage more complex cases, such as those with polygenic drug response signatures.

Pharmacogenomics programs like those at St. Jude’s and the University of Alabama are only two examples of the initiatives pharmacists are leading across the country. Dr.  Limdi believes this is an area of care that will grow tremendously in the coming years. “This is very much an evolving field, and I’m really excited about the possibilities it will bring,” she said.

 

By David Wild

April 23, 2021

Hospital Pharmacy Leader Makes Mentorship a Top Priority

Vickie Powell, Pharm.D., M.S., FASHP

WITH A PASSION FOR MENTORSHIP and a dedication to her community and the pharmacy profession, Vickie Powell, Pharm.D., M.S., FASHP, is a pharmacist to emulate. Dr. Powell, site director of pharmacy for New York-Presbyterian Hospital, first thought about a pharmacy career during high school, where she had an interest in and maintained good grades in science. A guest speaker encouraged her and some of her high-achieving classmates to pursue careers in the medical field.

“I did not want to be a doctor because I didn’t like blood,” she said. “I didn’t want to be a dentist. So I thought pharmacy would be the best profession for me because I wouldn’t have to come in contact with all of those things. I love pharmacy. I’m glad I took that path.”

After completing pharmacy school at Xavier University of Louisiana in New Orleans, Dr. Powell got married and moved to New York City’s Harlem neighborhood, where she took a pharmacist position at a drug store downstairs from her apartment. While she found it rewarding working in the community, she wanted to do more. Then one of her customers, a pharmacy director at Harlem Hospital, encouraged her to try hospital pharmacy.

Dr. Powell applied for and was offered a registered pharmacist job with St. Luke’s/Roosevelt Hospital Center. She threw herself into work with enthusiasm, volunteering for everything from backing up computerized pharmacy records to learning all about then-upcoming USP <797> regulations and developing plans for a compliant I.V. room. She soon moved up to an inpatient pharmacy supervisor and developed numerous specialty satellite pharmacies throughout the hospital.

Valuable Mentorship

Because of her expertise, Dr. Powell found herself giving talks to the New York City Society of Health-System Pharmacists. At first, she wasn’t sure how to balance work and being involved in professional pharmacy societies with family life. But her supervisor and mentor, Harvey Maldow, R.Ph., believed it was so important she participate that he told Dr. Powell’s husband that he had to watch their young children while she attended meetings. She became the second African-American president of the group.

During her acceptance speech, Dr. Powell discussed mentoring and her philosophy of “Each one, teach one,” based on every mentee helping pull up someone behind them. The vice president of pharmacy at New York-Presbyterian Hospital was impressed and approached her about a director job. Maldow encouraged her to apply.

Today, Dr. Powell oversees pharmacy operations for three of the health system’s 11 hospitals, and oversees around 600 pharmacy employees. Besides her work tasks, Powell continues to make mentoring a priority, promoting good communication skills and lifelong education. She’s proud to have encouraged many technicians to become pharmacists.

“We meet on a regular basis because I don’t want to just tell people something and then hope they’ll follow it through; I try to work with them one-on-one to help them achieve whatever goals we’ve set out for them,” she said.

Community Service

Dr. Powell also maintains close ties to her community, serving for many years as a Sunday school teacher and member of the health committee at her church. Powell brings in guest speakers on topics important to their membership, such as hypertension and diabetes. One speaker, celebrity cardiothoracic surgeon Mehmet Oz (TV’s “Dr. Oz”), awarded free gym memberships to a few audience members. She also has been a special events coordinator for the Harlem Little League. More recently, Powell supervised a COVID-19 vaccine clinic at her church run by her hospital.

“I try to do a lot of things to help our community, and I do whatever I can to propel the practice of pharmacy,” she said. To that end, Dr. Powell serves on the Board of Directors for Long Island University’s College of Pharmacy and has given guest lectures at Touro College of Pharmacy. In 2009, she was the first African-American president of the New York State Council of Health-System Pharmacists.

ASHP Leadership       

Dr. Powell also has been very active in ASHP, serving over the years as a delegate as well as on several committees, including the Council on Education and Workforce Development and the Committee on Nominations. In 2020, Dr. Powell was honored to be invited to join ASHP’s Task Force on Racial Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

Dr. Powell and her colleagues celebrate receiving the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

“Our social and justice systems are broken, and conscious and unconscious racism exists,” she said. “We talked a lot about institutional racism, which sometimes has been embedded as a normal practice within a society or organization. We made some changes in the structure of how things will be done to assure equity for all members. I don’t think people realize how institutional racism can lead to such issues as discrimination in employment, health care, and even with access to the [COVID-19] vaccine.”

The group suggested some changes to ASHP policies, Dr. Powell said, one being that a person can only run for a board position if they had just been a delegate. “That eliminates a lot of people,” she said. The group recommended that members did not have to have delegate experience to run for a board office. They also changed governance so the chair of the house of delegates no longer presides over the nominations committee, which could be a conflict of interest.

“We opened it up so that more people would have the opportunity to run for office,” she said. “We’re going to make mentoring a big part of the process.”

Dr. Powell stands out because of her intelligence, her mentorship, her compassion, and her ability to listen to people and understand their needs, Maldow noted.

“She’s one of the best people I ever worked with in terms of how she managed both down and up, and the staff adored her,” he said. “When I look at the people I mentored in my career, she’s on the top in how successful she has been, and it’s a credit to her, not me. The only thing I take credit for is being able to identify her potential. She’s a great health-system pharmacist and someone people should model themselves after.”

 

By Karen Blum

February 17, 2021

Pharmacy Leader Promotes Diversity, Mentorship, and Community Service

Vivian Bradley Johnson, Pharm.D., M.B.A., FASHP

On her 60th birthday, Vivian Bradley Johnson, Pharm.D., M.B.A., FASHP, senior vice president of clinical services at Parkland Health and Hospital System in Dallas, performed the kind of selfless acts that have marked her career to date.

“I wanted essential workers to know how much I appreciated the work they’ve been doing during the pandemic, so I gave them certificates and gift cards, and I also prepared baskets for the homeless and the elderly,” she said. “It was a full day all about others, not me.”

A life of service is what brought Dr. Johnson to pharmacy in the first place. Originally from Lake City, Florida, she was inspired by several members of her community, including a couple of retail pharmacists her family entrusted with their health, and a Black community pharmacist within her church whom she admired.

Thirty-five years after starting out as a practicing pharmacist, Dr. Johnson has become an ASHP fellow with a career distinguished by numerous successful initiatives. For example, she helped launch ASHP’s investigational drug service network after identifying a need for such a group.

Since taking up employment at Parkland Health and Hospital System, Dr. Johnson established the health system’s first central fill pharmacy, which processes 6,000 outpatient prescriptions daily. She also developed several medication safety programs, created a variety of pharmacist-led clinical initiatives, and helped bring pharmacists to the patients’ bedside.

Pharmacist Diversity

One of Dr. Johnson’s greatest passions and a principle that has guided her work has been increasing diversity within the pharmacy workforce, among pharmacy leaders, and in academia. That focus on diversity recently earned her a spot on ASHP’s Task Force on Racial Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI), where Dr. Johnson said she is eager to help find ways to enhance ASHP’s diversity on every level, from governance to products, services, and member communication.

According to Carrie A. Berge Pharm.D., M.S., vice president of pharmacy services at Parkland Health and Hospital System, Dr. Johnson is the right person for the job, having helped ensure leadership and staff at her health system represent the community they serve.

Dr. Johnson completed her undergraduate pharmacy degree at Florida A&M University, a HBCU.

“Vivian has spoken about leadership development and diversity to the entire organization throughout her career, and she has mentored many students, residents, and college interns and supports her community through extensive work with various charitable and social organizations,” said Dr. Berge.

Something Dr. Johnson hopes to help ASHP do in the coming years is recruit more individuals from historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs), a source of talent that Dr. Johnson said has been historically neglected.

“There’s a bias and belief that I think some people still carry, which is that the quality of education at HBCUs is not equal to other colleges and universities. I strongly disagree with that, and we need to overcome that bias,” Dr. Johnson insisted, noting that she herself completed her undergraduate pharmacy degree at Florida A&M University, a historically Black university.

While a sizeable portion of ASHP members are Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC), Dr. Johnson said she wants to “reach out a little further to minority practitioners and students so they know how ASHP membership can benefit them.”

In addition to better communicating membership benefits, Dr. Johnson would like to offer additional services, which include helping students and young practitioners find mentorship opportunities. “I didn’t go from being a staff pharmacist to senior vice president of clinical services on my own,” she said. “It was so important for me to have leaders and mentors to guide me.”

Dr. Johnson recalled that as a new practitioner she would attend ASHP Midyear meetings with the intent of connecting and finding support from others who had been in the profession for longer. She saw this as a benefit of ASHP membership.

“I was very self-motivated and reached out to leaders in pharmacy that I looked up to, but others may not feel as comfortable approaching people, so we need to offer resources and avenues to facilitate mentorship relationships,” Dr. Johnson said.

Diversity and Patient Care

Ensuring more BIPOC community members take pharmacy leadership positions will also be critical to sharing important insights into the culture and the types of challenges that diverse communities face, Dr. Johnson noted. “We need to know where there are health care disparities and how pharmacists can help eliminate those disparities,” she said.

While pharmacists provide direct care for chronic diseases and medication therapy management, she said not everyone gets equal access to this care. “A better understanding of the populations that are at risk of being underserved and the social determinants that affect their access to resources will help us make sure they get the best possible pharmaceutical care,” Dr. Johnson said.

Pursue Your Ambitions

Although there is much more work to do to improve diversity in the pharmacy community, Dr. Johnson hopes her own career growth can inspire BIPOC students and practitioners to strive towards their ambitions, “even when it may not appear that an opportunity is there for you.”

She believes that each person should go after whatever they would like to do within the pharmacy profession. “If that means reaching out to a person you’d like as a mentor, reach out to them,” Dr. Johnson explained. “For example, if you want to write an article, take the initiative and connect with someone who has published, and ask them for help. There are leaders in pharmacy who are willing to help and guide you.”

 

By David Wild

 

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January 12, 2021

Pharm.D. Candidate is a Long-Time Champion for Diversity

Jeffrey Clark is a fourth-year Pharm.D. Candidate at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine School of Pharmacy.

AFTER GRADUATING FROM a Bachelor of Science program, Jeffrey Clark was torn between applying to pharmacy school or medical school. As fate would have it, that hesitation dissipated when Clark entered the post-undergraduate working world.

While working as a program and wellness manager at the University System of Georgia, Clark was surprised to find out that pharmacists worked in managed care positions. “I’d always thought of pharmacists as being limited to the retail setting,” Clark said.

Discovering the range of options available to pharmacists and feeling gratification from helping individuals achieve better health through the wellness programs inspired Clark to pursue a career in pharmacy.

Diversity Leadership

As a fourth-year Pharm.D. Candidate at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine School of Pharmacy in Suwanee, Georgia, Clark’s professional interests include pharmacy operations management, medication safety, and quality assurance. His plan at the moment, however, is to pursue a two-year residency in health-system pharmacy administration and leadership.

That choice of specialization is a natural one for Clark, who serves in several leadership roles, including Chair of the ASHP Pharmacy Student Forum Executive Committee and as a student representative to the ASHP House of Delegates.

Clark is perhaps most passionate about being a leader in diversity. This interest was sparked in high school, where he spearheaded the formation of diversity groups, and a task force. “I remember explaining to [my high school’s] administration that we didn’t have a diversity-focused organization and that we needed to hold a conversation around the topic,” he said. After speaking up and voicing his concerns, Clark was asked to start a campus diversity organization.

Clark was called on again to lead diversity initiatives at college, where the campus president asked him to facilitate a task force on the issue, with the goal of finding ways to recruit individuals from underserved communities to college positions. “Those discussions ultimately led us to build awareness among faculty and staff and promote discussions on matters related to race,” he recalled.

Clark’s rich history of diversity leadership has led him to his current position as a member of the ASHP’s Task Force on Racial Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). His mentor, Joshua Blackwell, Pharm.D., clinical pharmacy manager, ambulatory services, at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, is excited to see what Clark will help achieve during his tenure on the ASHP DEI Task Force.

“When the call to action came from ASHP, Jeffrey immediately contacted me and expressed interest in serving as the student voice on the DEI Task Force,” said Dr. Blackwell. “I think one of Jeffrey’s greatest strengths is that he understands and listens to what other students around the country say their challenges and opportunities are within pharmacy schools. He wants to help them at every stage of their journey.”

Diverse Mentors, Leaders, and Students

Clark has reached impressive heights as a leader, but the path as a black male has come with some challenges. “I initially struggled to find a leader in pharmacy that I really connected with and felt comfortable telling my life story to, and I partly attribute that to not having someone who looks like me,” Clark said.

Although he eventually found leaders who supported and guided him, that lack of an early connection may have translated to some missed opportunities, he believes. “There are lots of opportunities available to pharmacy students, but you have to know about them and figure out where to put your time and effort,” Clark said. “If you don’t have a mentor to guide you, that can be difficult.”

Clark hopes to dedicate part of his time on the ASHP DEI Task Force to ensuring that other potential and current pharmacy students do not similarly miss out on opportunities. Promoting awareness to communities and schools that have historically been less of a focus for pharmacy schools is one way he believes this can be done. Sharing the stories and achievements of diverse members of the pharmacy community should also make students feel more comfortable and interested in getting involved with pharmacy organizations, Clark believes.

“People of color sometimes don’t feel like they stand a chance, and they don’t see how they’re going to find a mentor or some kind of connection to break through racial barriers,” he said. “We need to be proactive in seeking out people from diverse backgrounds and to communicate better with them to let them know, ‘Hey, you can do this!’”

Practitioner Diversity Improves Patient Care

Clark is a member of the ASHP Task Force on Racial Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

Clark believes that having practitioners that represent the mirror the diverse range of patient backgrounds – whether it is race, sex, or socioeconomic level – can help improve the quality of care that individuals receive.

For example, he recalls finding some patients from minority backgrounds reluctant to share information with the hospital rounding team during some of his patient rounds. While the sheer size of a large medical team may have intimidated them, “in some cases where the patient we treated was black, I noticed that when I went into the room alone, they would be much more open to talking,” Clark recalled. “There are some people that feel more comfortable talking to a person who is like them.”

For all the reasons that diversity is so important to him, Clark is excited about the changes he and his peers stand to make through ASHP’s DEI Task Force. “Diversity is already happening,” he said. “We’re working hand-in-hand with ASHP staff to make sure we find every opportunity to grow, and to develop policies and accountability systems that keep us expanding our diversity, not just once, but on an ongoing basis.”

By David Wild

 

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November 30, 2020

ASHP’s Midyear Clinical Meeting is Unstoppable

Dear Colleagues,

The 55th Annual Midyear Clinical Meeting and Exhibition is about to kick off! We have a wonderful week ahead packed with world-class educational programming, exciting speakers, and opportunities to connect with colleagues and enrich your practice. This year’s theme is “Unstoppable,” and more than 23,000 attendees will have the opportunity to come together, Dec. 6 –10, on our virtual platform to knowledge share, network, and experience the largest gathering of pharmacists in the world in a new and unique way. Registration will remain open through Dec. 10, so there is still time to register and take advantage of everything the meeting has to offer.

We are delighted to welcome our keynote speaker, award-winning actor, producer, director, and COVID-19 survivor, Tom Hanks, on the morning of Monday, Dec. 7. We are also very pleased to welcome Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, joining us on Wednesday, Dec. 9. Please note that these special events will only be available for viewing during the scheduled session days and times. You don’t want to miss these extraordinary speakers.

The 2020 Midyear also features:

  • More than 175 hours of continuing education
  • More than 4,600 posters
  • 1,328 booths in the Residency Showcase (29% increase over 2019)
  • 132 exhibitors/booths

The Midyear Clinical Meeting is the longest, continually running clinical pharmacy meeting in the world. This year, against the backdrop of a global pandemic, ASHP promises to bring you an unstoppable Midyear, offering the most timely and relevant content to support contemporary practice and the best possible patient care.

Our 55th meeting brings together our profession’s best and brightest subject matter experts who will share their knowledge about current pharmacy practice in an ever-changing healthcare landscape.

The distribution and administration of the anticipated COVID-19 vaccines are top of mind and on Monday, Dec. 7, ASHP will hold the first of two late-breaking COVID-19 vaccine sessions. Monday’s session will focus on clinical considerations. A second session will be held on Wednesday, with a focus on operational considerations. In addition to the late-breaking vaccine sessions, we have 18 relevant and informative sessions that will keep you up-to-date on the latest developments related to COVID-19 response and recovery.

Monday will also feature a special Town Hall hosted by Paul C. Walker, Pharm.D., FASHP, chair of the ASHP Task Force on Racial Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Dr. Walker will present the Task Force’s draft recommendations for new and enhanced efforts ASHP should take to address issues of racial diversity, equity, and inclusion impacting Black, Indigenous and People of Color. The Task Force will consider feedback from the Town Hall and other channels in preparing a final report and recommendations to submit to the ASHP Board of Directors in January 2021.

This year’s Midyear marks the first anniversary of the ASHP Innovation Center. The center seeks to elevate the vital role hospital and health-system pharmacy practitioners play in new and emerging science, and position pharmacy practitioners as influencers in developing systems that advance patient safety and quality care. This year’s Midyear offers a wealth of programming dedicated to implementing and using innovative strategies and solutions to further pharmacy practice, including two critical on-demand sessions: Innovations in Drug Information Practice and Research; and Advanced and Innovative Roles in the Specialty Pharmacy Setting. Later in the week, on Thursday, Dec. 10, we have a session highlighting the pros and cons of new technologies that have improved patient care safety and efficiency.

As part of the ASHP Innovation Center, the ASHP Foundation is currently accepting applications for a competitive grant program to support projects that demonstrate the impact of optimizing health information technology and digital transformation that enhance safe and effective use of medications. The grant program is available for interprofessional healthcare teams with a pharmacist as principal investigator. The deadline for applications is Feb. 4, 2021.

I encourage attendees to check out the ASHP Midyear Virtual Posters. With our virtual platform, you can review poster PDFs and audio clips summarizing each project. Authors will be available for real-time video Q & A chats alongside their virtual posters.

These are just a handful of the highlights from the largest gathering of pharmacists in the world. Be sure to follow us on social media @ASHPOfficial and #ASHP2020 on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn, and look for News & Views, the official Midyear newspaper, which will be delivered digitally to all attendees via a daily e-mail. Also, be sure to check out ashptv.com for daily interviews, member stories, and content.

The success of this unstoppable Midyear Clinical Meeting is due to the tremendous work of hundreds of ASHP members and staff, and we are pleased to showcase their efforts and share this event with you.

Finally, I would like to wish all of our members a safe and healthy holiday season. Thank you for being a member of ASHP and for all you do for your patients and our profession during these very challenging times.

Sincerely,

Paul

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