ASHP InterSections ASHP InterSections

August 26, 2021

Johnnie L. Early II and Peter H. Vlasses Named Honorary Members of ASHP

Dr. Johnnie L. Early II, R.Ph., Ph.D., FNPhA

TWO PHARMACY LEADERS WITH A PASSION for education have been presented with Honorary Membership Awards by the ASHP Board of Directors.

The awards, which recognize individuals who have made outstanding contributions to pharmacy practice, were given to Johnnie L. Early II, R.Ph., Ph.D., FNPhA, dean of Florida A&M University College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Institute of Public Health, in Tallahassee, and to Peter H. Vlasses, Pharm.D., D.Sc. (Hon.), FCCP, executive director emeritus of the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE) in Chicago. Both were elected for life by unanimous vote.

A lifetime of pharmacy leadership

Dr. Early was recognized for his nearly four decades of pharmacy education and his dedication to expanding opportunities for youth from various racial and ethnic backgrounds to explore careers in pharmacy practice and the pharmaceutical sciences. A charter member of the Student National Pharmaceutical Association (SNPhA), Dr. Early has worked tirelessly to recruit diverse students and create more diverse workforces at the several universities he has worked for. He is the recipient of numerous awards for his contributions to pharmacy, including the 2018 ASHP-ABHP Joint Leadership Award, the Outstanding Alumnus Award from the Purdue University chapter of the SNPhA, the National Pharmaceutical Association’s Chauncey I. Copper Award, and the ABHP Wendell T. Hill Award. He also was among the first to be honored as a Fellow of the National Pharmaceutical Association.

Dr. Early “is a distinguished educator and visionary leader in pharmacy,” ASHP said a formal announcement. “He has been instrumental in addressing racial disparities in healthcare, expanding opportunities for BIPOC youth to explore careers in pharmacy practice and the pharmaceutical sciences, and developing a more diverse and culturally competent healthcare workforce.”

Home grown brew    

Growing up, Dr. Early said he always had an interest in science and science fiction. But his first memory of being impressed by pharmacology was around age 5. He was sick, and laying in his bed, when his maternal grandmother came to the house and asked what was wrong. She felt his forehead, then went to the kitchen and rummaged through the knife drawer. The sound piqued Dr. Early’s curiosity (“The first thing I thought was surgery,” he laughed). Instead, his grandmother went out to the front yard, cut some leaves off a plant, and brewed him a warm, bitter tea to drink. Within 30 minutes or so, he felt better.

Years later, Dr. Early considered a variety of careers in the health sciences. As an undergraduate biology major at Fort Valley State University in Georgia, he was one of several students recruited directly by the dean of Mercer University Southern School of Pharmacy, Dr. Oliver Littlejohn. The day he started pharmacy school he was also invited to be interviewed for medical school.  He explored public health and took the Dental Aptitude test where he was asked to carve a piece of chalk. Despite his dexterity, the chalk broke, and his career in pharmacy began. After graduating from Mercer, Dr. Early went on to receive his master’s and Ph.D. degrees in pharmacology/toxicity from Purdue University.

A dedication to academics

Dr. Early has had a long academic career, holding several positions at Florida A&M including program director of the Minority Biomedical Research Support Program, assistant dean for research, and dean. He then served as dean and professor for the Medical University of South Carolina and for the University of Toledo, in Ohio, before returning to Florida A&M in 2018 for his current role.

Inspired by the dean who recruited him to pharmacy school, Dr. Early has made a point of recruiting potential trainees in person when possible. Over the past two decades, he has established programs at the University of Toledo and at Florida A&M through which minority high school students spend a few days on campus learning more about pharmacy and pharmaceutical sciences careers. Last year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the course was shortened and put online, but students still got some hands-on experience, including making capsules.

“I’m a guy who likes to work,” he said. “And I’m always trying to figure out how to make my people and programs better. Every time somebody gets hired with us, and then is promoted and moves on to higher positions, I see that not as a loss but as an applause for the program.”

Grateful and humbled          

Dr. Early, who started attending ASHP meetings when he first became dean of Florida A&M in 1987, said he was floored to receive a call from ASHP CEO Paul Abramowitz, Pharm.D., Sc.D. (Hon), FASHP, letting him know of the honorary membership award. “It was not in my thinking that that kind of award would be anything that would come my way,” he said. He thanked Dr. Abramowitz on the phone and, in his signature style, later in a handwritten note. “It’s a most significant award, and something that I’m ever so grateful for.”

Longtime pharmacy education leader

Dr. Vlasses was honored for his nearly 45 years in the pharmacy profession. During his 20-year tenure at ACPE, he oversaw the accreditation of the professional degree program in pharmacy; strengthened continuing professional education and development for pharmacists and pharmacy technicians; and championed interprofessional collaboration in education and accreditation. He also led the establishment of the ACPE International Services Program and supported its reach to improve pharmacy education and training worldwide.

Dr. Peter H. Vlasses, Pharm.D., D.Sc. (Hon.), FCCP

In 2014, Dr. Vlasses joined forces with ASHP to create the Pharmacy Technician Accreditation Commission (PTAC) to assure and advance the quality of pharmacy technician education and training programs. He has received numerous honors including the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy’s Board of Directors Distinguished Service Award and the National Center for Interprofessional Practice and Education Pioneer Award.

“Dr. Vlasses is a prominent leader in pharmacy who was a significant ASHP partner in developing the ASHP/ACPE national accreditation standards for pharmacy technician education and training programs,” ASHP said a formal announcement. “His vision, commitment, and collaborative leadership have helped strengthen the foundation of excellence in accreditation of the education of pharmacists and pharmacy technicians in the United States and around the world.”

A desire to change the world

Dr. Vlasses’ parents were Greek immigrants. As the older of two sons, he was expected to take over the family’s restaurant/bar and liquor store in Camden, N.J. This was in the 1960s, when young people were talking about changing the world and working to serve others. Dr. Vlasses said he didn’t see the liquor store/bar part of the business as helping, so he reluctantly approached his father and asked about pursuing college and a profession.

Instead of being upset, his father talked through three career choices with him. They ruled out medicine because Dr. Vlasses was squeamish around blood. They ruled out law because as a native Greek speaker, he had some challenges with English. But a family friend was a pharmacist with his own store. After a visit, Dr. Vlasses chose to study pharmacy, enrolling at Philadelphia College of Pharmacy and Science. He attended his first ASHP Midyear Clinical Meeting as a student in 1970, when pharmacy education was starting to change. After receiving his bachelor’s degree in pharmacy, Dr. Vlasses completed a one-year hospital pharmacy residency at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital and then completed his Pharm.D. education at the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy and Science.

Passion for research and academia

Dr. Vlasses then spent many years in academia, working for Ohio State, the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy and Science, and Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia. He got involved in research and was elected president of the American College of Clinical Pharmacy. At the time, there was some controversy over whether pharmacists could be clinical investigators on research trials. He wrote to the Food and Drug Administration to inquire if that was permitted; the agency said it was.

“A lot of people subsequently told me that letter helped them do research and get funding,” he said. “That was something I always valued that I contributed to the profession.”

During that time, Dr. Vlasses also became more involved with professional organizations including ASHP, serving on the Council on Therapeutics and on the Research and Education Foundation and Awards program, before moving to ACPE in 1999. Not only did he help develop PTAC seeing that pharmacy technicians needed better training, but when he joined the organization, he worked to improve accredited continuing education standards for continuing education for pharmacy technicians.  providers in pharmacy who were also committed to interprofessional continuing education.

Interprofessional collaboration

“When I joined ACPE, I saw medical professionals learning in silos—doctors in medical school, nurses in nursing school, etc.,” he said. “There wasn’t a lot of interactions to say we’re on the same team, we should learn and practice together, and everybody should contribute at the top of their license.”

Dr. Vlasses worked to change the accreditation standards for pharmacy degree programs so students were “team ready” at graduation, with education in the classroom, clinical experience, and exposed to interprofessional education in practice. Similarly, he worked with accreditor colleagues from other health professions to improve accredited continuing education standards to facilitate team-based continuing education, “planned by the team and for the team.” He initially developed joint CE accreditation standards for pharmacy, nursing and medicine. That has since grown to include acceptance by accreditors for CE accreditors for athletic trainers, dentists, dietitians, optometrists, physician assistants, psychologists, and social workers. Any combination of those trainees can learn together and receive CE credit in their professional as well as interprofessional CE credit.

Living the American dream  

Dr. Vlasses retired in 2019. He said when he received the call from Dr. Abramowitz about the honorary membership award, “I was very much honored that ASHP and the board would see me in that light, and valued the contributions I have made as a member of the organization and as a pharmacist. Starting out as a son of a Greek immigrant and the first college graduate in my family to being able to be recognized by a number of pharmacy organizations and ASHP was in many cases the American dream for me.”

 

By Karen Blum

 

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

November 12, 2020

Tips for Students: Getting the Most Out of the 2020 Midyear Meeting

Marissa Chow, a fourth year Pharm.D. candidate at St. Louis College of Pharmacy

WITH SOME ADVANCE PLANNING AND PREPARATION, students will find this year’s virtual Midyear Clinical Meeting as enlightening and productive as the in-person meetings of previous years. The meeting is loaded with student programming, so attendees like Marissa Chow, a fourth year Pharm.D. candidate at St. Louis College of Pharmacy, are getting down to work preparing for a few jam-packed days of education, networking, and interviews.

“Since in-person meetings will most likely not happen due to safety concerns during the COVID-19 pandemic, it will be even more important to chat with the right people at this year’s Midyear,” said Chow.

Preparation is key

Her preparation includes looking through the ASHP Midyear’s student-specific programming, which will be offered both in on-demand and simu-live formats. Residency-focused student sessions will cover all aspects of residency applications and interviews, ranging from navigating the PhORCAS application system to understanding the Match Algorithm. Professional development student sessions will aim to help students of all classes explore post-graduate opportunities and personal success topics like branding and financial guidance.

As with every year, the ASHP virtual residency showcase will give students a chance to interact with residency programs, learn more about what they have to offer, and narrow down their options prior to applications. Additionally, the Personnel Placement Service (PPS), free to all fourth-year student registrants through advance sign up, will provide an opportunity for dedicated interviews and one-on-one time.

Chow said she is already researching programs that are participating in this year’s residency showcase and writing down criteria and questions ahead of time to help her evaluate programs.

Advice for first-timers

One piece of advice Chow had for students attending the Midyear for the first time is to map out where they want to go ahead of time and to read and learn about the virtual platform prior to the meeting, “so you aren’t scrambling to find the next item to attend and there are no technical errors.”

“And consider finding a “Midyear Buddy” to support each other for meetings, residency talks, and even PPS,” Chow said.

Elizabeth King, Pharm.D.

Students should also work with their preceptors and professors ahead of time to make sure they can dedicate time to the meeting, said Elizabeth King, Pharm.D., who graduated from pharmacy school in 2018 and is now a hematology/oncology pharmacist at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota.

“When we attend in person, there is a natural separation from other responsibilities so we can focus on the meeting, but this may not be the case in the virtual setting,” Dr. King said.

Students should carve out a time and space with minimal distractions and dress as if they were attending the conference in person, “to get yourself in the right mindset,” she recommended. “And just like in person, you will need breaks so don’t be afraid to walk away from the screen,” she added.

Although the meeting is chock-full of student programming, Dr. King suggested attending at least one new practitioner session and one pharmacist session.

“If students have a clinical area they’re interested in, it’s a great idea to attend some of the clinical sessions on that topic to hear about how clinical practice is changing,” she said, noting that the virtual format means attendees can spend more time viewing posters and listening in on sessions and less time “shuttling between locations.”

Another reason to venture outside of student programming is to get a better sense of the faculty at an institution where one might apply for a residency, Dr. King said.

“You can get an idea of what the people you will be learning from are like and what their academic passions are, which also gives you talking points for interviews,” she said.

Dr. King recommended actively participating in sessions by asking questions. If there are private messaging options, contacting others to network can help you connect with people who have similar interests, she added. “Also make sure also to build up your profile on ASHP and PPS so that others can find you based on your interests and reach out to you,” Dr. King said.

Residency search

Younger students interested in learning about the residency process should attend the PhORCAS session to find out what programs are looking for in residency candidates, Dr. King said.

“Knowing this can help you set your priorities so that you end up getting to where you want to be academically,” Dr. King said. “The earlier you can start thinking about and preparing for residency, the better.”

For residency applicants, it’s a good idea to formulate a set of criteria that can help decide on a program and also to formulate questions tailored to that specific institution, Dr. King advised.

Nelly Adel, Pharm.D., BCOP, BCPS, supports her student during an ASHP Midyear meeting poster presentation.

“These questions can help you understand the culture of the institution, the educational offerings they have, or explore key non-negotiable items that you want in a residency,” she said.

As a residency recruiter herself, Nelly Adel, Pharm.D., BCOP, BCPS, chair of the department of pharmacy practice and associate professor in oncology, Touro College of Pharmacy, New York, appreciates when residency candidates distinguish themselves from others in the candidate pool.

“Ask questions that are not answered on the program’s website,” she recommended. “For example, I like to be asked about projects that I have worked on with students or residents and that have made a difference.”

Dr. Adel also recommended highlighting co- and extra-curricular activities and volunteer work. “I speak with 20-30 candidates a day and it’s sometimes hard to remember each one.  This can help to separate you from your peers,” she said.

Virtual etiquette

One thing Dr. Adel emphasized is to approach the Midyear with professionalism. “Even though the meeting is virtual, the same rules as in-person meetings hold,” she said. She encouraged students to wear professional attire, find a room without visual distractions in the background, smile when speaking to others or presenting a poster, and to not be “sitting or lounging at your bed.”

“There’s also no reason to be late for a meeting or a presentation, particularly when it’s virtual,” she said. “So become familiar with the platforms you’ll be using by playing around with them ahead of time. This could help avoid technical glitches and delays.”

Having attended and hosted numerous virtual meetings herself, Dr. Adel said student presenters and residency applicants should look straight into their computer’s camera rather than at the picture on the monitor.  “This helps you connect better with the person in front of you,” she said. Another technical consideration to keep in mind is the possible lag time during remote conversations, Dr. Adel added.

“Avoid interrupting the other person by waiting for the end of their sentence,” she said. “If you want to interject, find the right moment and know how to interrupt without being offensive. That holds true whether it’s a live or a virtual meeting.”

Despite the checklist of considerations that students should keep in mind prior to this year’s Midyear, Chow, the student pharmacist, is enthusiastic about the potential of the meeting.

“I’m excited to attend this year’s meeting!” she said. “Although this is not the traditional format or the format that most people would have wanted for the Midyear, as the pharmacy profession as a whole has shown, we are good at adapting to change.”

 

By David Wild

October 19, 2020

ASHP Members Highlight the Value of Board Certification

Katie Hughes, Pharm.D., BCPPS

WHEN SNEHAL BHATT, PHARM.D., BCPS, was going through pharmacy school and residency training, he noticed that the pharmacists and mentors he looked up to most all were board certified. So when he completed his training in 2001, he pursued his board certification in pharmacotherapy to achieve expertise in pharmacy practice and emulate those who inspired him.

Professional benefits

Dr. Bhatt, a clinical pharmacist in cardiology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, and an ASHP member since 1999, said this distinction comes in handy on a daily basis.

“Most of my patients have a variety of other disease states and comorbidities that aren’t necessarily cardiology-related, and that’s an area where I have just as important an impact in patient care,” said Dr. Bhatt, who also is a professor of pharmacy practice at the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences University. “While I certainly help with recommending medications for patients’ primary cardiovascular problems, I often find myself having to help the team with non-cardiovascular medications, too. Being well-rounded as a pharmacist and well-versed in a variety of drug therapy options outside of your specialty is essential to pharmacy practice.”

Being well-versed in your field is just one of the professional benefits pharmacists can reap from becoming board-certified, said Angela Bingham, Pharm.D., BCPS, BCNSP, BCCCP, FASPEN,  an associate professor of clinical pharmacy at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia. She is also a clinical pharmacist in the medical/surgical intensive care units at Cooper University Hospital, in Camden, N.J.

Angela Bingham, Pharm.D., BCPS, BCNSP, BCCCP, FASPEN

She and other pharmacists enjoy the validation of their clinical knowledge and competency beyond licensing requirements, she says. There also can be financial incentives related to salary, promotions, and new practice opportunities that emerge. With a seed grant from the Board of Pharmacy Specialties (BPS), Dr. Bingham and one of her residents are investigating the prevalence and value of board certification among pharmacy practice faculty at colleges and schools of pharmacy in the United States. A previous survey indicated that one of the most important benefits identified by participants was gaining personal satisfaction by accomplishing professional goals that were important to them.

Advanced practice opportunities

Dr. Bingham is board certified in three areas: pharmacotherapy, nutrition support, and critical care, and now works with ASHP on the critical care review and recertification programs. She first pursued pharmacotherapy board certification as a PGY-2 critical care pharmacy resident, then pursued certification in nutrition support and in critical care as those emerged as areas of passion and specialization for her after she completed a residency.

“It really impressed me that board certification is a gold standard for determining which pharmacists are qualified to contribute to advanced practice roles,” said Dr. Bingham, an ASHP member for 14 years. “I also was impressed by the rigorous processes BPS uses to help ensure that board certified pharmacists are trained to meet the expectations of interprofessional health care teams and saw specialization as an opportunity to improve patient outcomes. I was drawn to the complex, evolving nature of critically ill patients and the team structure of care within the ICU environment, which led me down this path.”

Improving confidence and becoming an expert in pediatric care inspired Katie Hughes, Pharm.D., BCPPS, to pursue board certification in pediatric pharmacy. Dr. Hughes had a long interest in working with children but found that she needed much more information during a pediatrics rotation in pharmacy school.

“It was overwhelming from a clinical and emotional/social perspective,” said Dr. Hughes, who now works with the pediatric ICU at Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University in Indianapolis, as well as the burn and rehabilitation units. “I realized that a lot of the kids we were seeing then weren’t the textbook kids we looked at in school. They were different sizes, had different volumes of distribution, had different clearance rates, their organs were totally different, and we didn’t have black and white guidelines to tell us what to do.”

Dr. Hughes, an ASHP member since 2012, said she did appreciate helping patients through their illnesses and watching their incredible ability to bounce back and recover. When BPS introduced the pediatrics pharmacy board certification during her PGY-2 year, she jumped on it. She attended ASHP’s board prep meeting as part of her training. Now, Dr. Hughes helps ASHP develop curricula for its board recertification.

“The medical profession has some imposter syndrome, and I don’t think that’s uncommon in pharmacy either,” she said. “You want to make sure you know what you’re doing, and sometimes you’re hesitant because you don’t have that confidence. The board certification helped me with that, and making sure I was taking the best care of patients I could.”

Certification offerings

BPS recognizes 14 pharmacy specialties, of which ASHP has available resources, including review courses, for nine currently: Ambulatory care pharmacy, critical care pharmacy, cardiology pharmacy, compounded sterile preparations pharmacy, geriatric pharmacy, infectious diseases pharmacy, oncology pharmacy, pediatric pharmacy, and pharmacotherapy. Soon, ASHP and the American College of Clinical Pharmacy (ACCP) will offer a review package for the transplant pharmacist exam, including an online review course and practice exam.

ASHP and ACCP also partner to provide resources for the Ambulatory Care, Cardiology, Geriatric, Infectious Diseases, and Oncology specialties.

Whether to pursue board certification always will be a personal decision, Dr. Bhatt said. There are so many specialty areas now board-certified that it allows every practitioner to find their own home.

“For anyone who really has a desire to stay as advanced in their practice, and as broad-based and up-to-date as you can, board certification is one of the best ways to do so because it’s a very structured environment, and you know you’re getting high-quality education from your peers in terms of what matters for pharmacy practice,” he said.

ASHP programs

Dr. Bhatt originally had to make his own study guides from reading textbook chapters, guidelines, and primary literature. But more recently, while pursuing recertification, he has taken advantage of ASHP’s continuing education programs. Many of ASHP’s activities offer dual recertification credit for pharmacists with more than one specialty credential.

“There are several ways I can get board certification credits through ASHP throughout the year,” he said. “It allows us to fit those activities into our schedules in a convenient fashion so we can maintain our board certification without being intrusive to our day-to-day practices or family lives.”

Board certification is “certainly a commitment that can’t be taken lightly,” added Dr. Bingham. “But it can ultimately be very professionally rewarding.”

By Karen Blum

# # #

September 30, 2020

Sense of Community and Social Justice Characterize Pharmacy School Deans

Dean Marie Chisholm-Burns, Pharm.D., M.B.A., M.P.H.

EVERY DAY, AS SHE WALKS THROUGH THE LOBBY of the College of Pharmacy at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC), Dean Marie Chisholm-Burns, Pharm.D., M.B.A., M.P.H., passes a wall covered with the portraits of all eight of the college’s deans to date. While all have made important academic and clinical contributions, there is a distinct contrast between her portrait and the seven pictures that precede hers: all of the deans leading up to her were white males.

Addressing social inequalities

“Funny enough, it wasn’t until my students pointed out how impactful it was to have my picture up on the wall that I noticed how striking the difference between me and the deans before me was,” said Dr. Chisholm-Burns, who has been an ASHP member for over 25 years. “I hope that when people see my picture up there, they dwell on possibilities that they may not have otherwise considered.”

Dr. Chisholm-Burns was recently named a UTHSC Distinguished Professor and the Chair of ASHP’s new Section of Pharmacy Educators Executive Committee. Throughout her career and during her deanship, Dr. Chisholm-Burns has made it a priority to address social inequalities. For example, she has made an effort to ensure equal access to education, which she sees as a civil rights issue by cutting tuition costs. “I came from a humble background, so I know that the cost of college can be prohibitive, and I also know that education can help lead you out of poverty,” she said.

Gender inequality has been another target of Dr. Chisholm-Burns’s energy. Before becoming dean, she was involved in an initiative that taught economically disadvantaged young girls how to play chess to encourage them to pursue their aspirations.

“In chess, if you advance your pawn all the way to the other side of the board, you can change it into any piece – except for the king – but many would say the most powerful piece on the board is a queen,” said Dr. Chisholm-Burns. “The message, which I think is a strong one, is that your future is not necessarily dictated by your past.”

On her own career path, one accomplishment Dr. Chisholm-Burns has been incredibly proud of is establishing the Medication Access Program, which provides access to treatment for solid organ transplant recipients.

“As a clinical pharmacist working with transplant patients, I noticed that the cost of medications sometimes prevented people from being adherent to their medications,” she said. “That bothered me a lot, and I felt an obligation to improve the situation.”

With a long list of achievements to date and a long career still ahead of her, there is every indication that Dr. Chisholm-Burns will continue to help right the wrongs that she sees around her, whether in the clinic, the college, or the community.

“As long as there are social injustices out there, I would like to be a part of efforts to address them,” she said.

A responsive leader

For Natalie Eddington, Ph.D., FAAPS, FCP, Dean of the School of Pharmacy at the University of Maryland, Baltimore, being a good leader has meant serving her faculty and students, and also the residents of her city.

Dean Natalie Eddington, Ph.D., FAAPS, FCP

During her 12 years as dean, she has been involved in several initiatives aimed at improving the lives of those around her. For example, she co-leads the university’s Center of Addiction Research, Education and Service – or CARES – which employs faculty and students to address the impact of addiction on Baltimore’s communities.

“Addiction is one of those things that we might not necessarily want to talk about, but it is really important to treat if we want to improve the lives of those in the community and our school,” Dr. Eddington said.

Dr. Eddington has tried to be a responsive leader on campus, tending to students and readying them to thrive after graduation. She has led the roll-out of innovative pharmacy degrees in regulatory science, pharmaceutical metrics, palliative care, and even the first Master of Science program in the country focusing specifically on medical cannabis.

“The practice of pharmacy today is nothing like it was when I graduated over 20 years ago, and we have to prepare students to meet the demands of this new world,” she said.

An initiative at the college that Dr. Eddington is particularly proud of is the “Pharmapreneurism” program, which teaches students the innovative mindset that enterprising pharmacists need to reach their career aspirations. “Students who want to go out and change the way we practice pharmacy need to have the confidence and knowledge to do things differently,” she said.

Recently, Dr. Eddington has focused on increasing diversity in academic pharmacy, which she has found remains a priority. In her research, she discovered that the number of pharmacy schools almost doubled over a recent 10-year period, but diversity in academic pharmacy hasn’t changed much.

“We need diversity because it widens what we know and what we understand as healthcare professionals treating patients from diverse backgrounds. It makes sure we implement in practice the ways that are most appropriate for our patients,” Dr. Eddington emphasized.

Cheerleader-in-Chief

When long-time ASHP member Toyin Tofade, Pharm.D., M.S., BCPS, CPCC, FFIP, took up the office of Dean at Howard University’s College of Pharmacy in Washington, D.C., in 2016she found an abundance of impressive work being done by faculty and students alike, but discovered that their achievements were “one of the best-kept secrets around.”

Dean Toyin Tofade, Pharm.D., M.S., BCPS, CPCC, FFIP

“I was surprised by how many contributions were going unrecognized, so I decided to adopt the role of cheerleader-in-chief,” said Dr. Tofade, who was recently appointed to ASHP’s Task Force on Racial Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

One of the first things she did as cheerleader-in-chief was let her faculty and students know that their work was valued by publishing an annual report and a weekly e-newsletter celebrating their accomplishments.

Like Drs. Chisholm-Burns and Eddington, Dr. Tofade has made it a priority to address inequalities in the college and the wider community. She co-directs a center to help individuals from unrepresented minority backgrounds prepare for undergraduate and professional STEM and healthcare professions. Under her leadership, the college is planning to place clinical pharmacists in independent community pharmacies to implement ambulatory care services.

Having those services in place will help “transform practice in the District” and ensure lower-income community members have access to medication therapy management and basic chronic disease care, she noted. “These are the kinds of things we need here in D.C., where the health of some communities is very low,” said Dr. Tofade.

Further afield, Dr. Tofade has been working with the International Pharmaceutical Federation, which collaborates with the World Health Organization to implement pharmacy care and related policies in developing countries. Serving in multiple roles and paying her success forward, she mentors budding academic pharmacy leaders abroad so that they can make their mark in the field.

“I feel very privileged and honored to be working to help transform pharmacy education and support academic pharmacy leaders around the world,” she said of this experience.

And with trademark humility, Dr. Tofade acknowledged that while her ambitions have been critical to getting to where she is today, the help of others has been as instrumental to her success.

“I am so grateful to God, my mentors, and supervisors who have taken the time over the years to invest in my growth as a leader,” she said.

 

By David Wild

 

# # #

June 28, 2019

Advocacy in Action: Utah Pharmacists Make Contraceptive Provision a Reality

David C. Young, Pharm.D.

A NEW LAW THAT WILL CHANGE the way Utah pharmacists work began with a question that was part of a classroom assignment: “If you had one wish for a pharmacy dream bill, what would it be?” At the time, Wilson D. Pace, Pharm.D., was a University of Utah College of Pharmacy graduate student in the school’s leadership and advocacy class taught by David C. Young, Pharm.D. He immediately thought of the need for broader access to contraception and how pharmacists can fill that gap.

This issue hit home for Dr. Pace because his wife had experienced problems obtaining a prescription for a contraceptive from an obstetrician since a shortage of providers made her wait several months to get an appointment. As he further looked into the challenges women face getting contraception in a timely manner, he found that his wife’s experience was far from unique. As a result, Dr. Pace came to the conclusion that if there were a law that gave pharmacists the power to provide contraception without a new prescription, it would go a long way toward advancing women’s health in the state. This idea moved Dr. Pace to seek out other student pharmacists to form a working group. Together they started an advocacy campaign that would make this dream bill a reality.

Garnering Support from Medical Stakeholders

Wilson D. Pace, Pharm.D.

Dr. Pace and his working group began by reaching out to pharmacist mentors about their desire to take action on this idea in the hopes that the legislature would act on it. The pharmacists discussed how the advocacy process would work, and based on his prior experience, Dr. Young knew they first had to gain the support of various stakeholders in the state. Although groups such as Utah Board of Pharmacy, professional pharmacy organizations, the Utah Medical Association, and nursing organizations agreed that it was essential to address the issues women face while trying to obtain contraceptives, they had yet to agree on the exact role pharmacists should play in solving them. Specifically, whether or not pharmacists should be able to provide contraceptives without a prescription from a doctor.

As a result, Dr. Pace’s original vision of pharmacists having prescribing power was a point of contention during the discussions and ultimately something on which Drs. Pace and Young needed to compromise to get the groups’ support and move forward. In the end, the stakeholders all decided it was best for pharmacists not to have full prescribing power, but to be able to provide contraception without a prescription on a limited basis.

“We didn’t sit around the fire singing ‘Kumbaya,’” said Dr. Young. “We had very healthy, open, and honest discussions about what the idea for a new law meant, how we were going to accomplish it, and how we were going to work together.”

Hammering Out the Details

After completing discussions with all of the healthcare stakeholders and getting their support, it was time to work with the legislative research office to refine the language of the bill. This was a complicated and lengthy process because it required that every interested group sign off on each revision that was made to the draft.

“Any tiny change had to have buy-in from all of the different groups,” Dr. Pace said. “So the next big step was working out all the nuts and bolts and then coordinating to make sure everybody was on the same page.”

Legislative Support

Karen M. Gunning, Pharm.D., BCPS

Once the language of the bill was finalized, it was time to get legislative support. Finding the right sponsor was vital. Sen. Todd Weiler agreed to sponsor the bill, and Rep. Ray Ward, M.D., a family physician with a history of working on legislation related to improving public health, co-sponsored the bill. “We actually had no opposition. We were concerned that there might be different groups testifying against us or they would push back, but there was none of that,” said Dr. Pace.

The process went so smoothly that there were no opposing testimony delivered when the bill was in committee and no opposing votes in the Utah Legislature. In March, Gov. Gary Herbert signed S.B. 184.

Thanks to the efforts of Dr. Pace, the other student pharmacists involved, and guidance from their mentors, women in Utah can now get contraception from pharmacists for two years before being required to check in with a doctor for a new prescription.

“I believe this law will allow pharmacists in the state of Utah to demonstrate the value they bring to patient care, and also the team-based approach to care that pharmacists have,” said Karen M. Gunning, Pharm.D., BCPS, a Professor (Clinical) at the University of Utah College of Pharmacy, who provided expert knowledge and support to Drs. Pace and Young as they navigated the legislative process. “There is great potential for pharmacists to work with medical providers in their communities to improve access, and to ensure that patients who need contraceptive care from a non-pharmacist medical provider are referred promptly to one.”

A Future of Advocacy

With this significant advocacy win under his belt, Dr. Pace admits that he’s been bitten by the political bug and will continue working toward furthering the interests of the pharmacy profession. Drs. Pace and Young, now co-chairs in the legislative committee of the Utah ASHP state affiliate, have already begun exploring new issues to tackle in the current legislative session.

“Whatever job I end up being in, I can’t imagine not being involved in some way in the advocacy process,” Dr. Pace said.

Although at first blush many pharmacists may shy away from doing advocacy work, Dr. Young urges all pharmacy professionals to consider getting involved because of the tremendous impact it can have on the way they work in their state.

“If you’re not interested in advocating for your profession, other people may change the laws and rules on you, and you may not like it,” he said. “If you want to control your outcomes, you’ve got to get involved. The best way to control your destiny is to create it — and that’s what happened with this bill.”

 

By Kenya McCullum

 

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