The McWhorter School of Pharmacy at Samford University has teamed up with Baptist Health Center Hoover Primary Care to give fourth-year pharmacy students practical experience during their last year of school. Ami Shell, PharmD, Assistant Professor of Pharmacy Practice at Samford, says this partnership is a first for their pharmacy students.
“Some of our faculty members have worked at a Baptist hospital in the past, but this model for students working in a private practice clinic is a first for us,” Shell says. “It gives them practical experience and will help prepare them for the changing health care environment.”
Baptist Health Center Hoover Primary Care is accredited as a level III Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH), a distinction held by only a handful of practices in Alabama, according to John Gardner, Baptist Health Center Hoover Executive Director of Operations. “A PCMH health care delivery model is a physician-led, patient-centered approach to coordinated care,” Gardner says. “Patients get the care they need, when and where they need it.”
Coordinating care across different practitioners through such a model is expected to decrease costs and enable better communication among all caregivers. “This program will help students work in a health care model that will be more common in the future. Future health care will be more of a reimbursement model that will reward practitioners in various fields for decreasing costs, such as hospital admissions,” Shell says. “It is going to take a group of health care workers with different expertise to make patient outcomes better. That, in turn, will help the practice they are affiliated with.”
Gardner says there are few outpatient health care facilities that can offer patients access to a pharmacist at the time of their visit with a clinician. “Collaboration between a clinician and a doctor of pharmacy results in more comprehensive care and improved outcomes for the patient,” he says.
Shell is at the clinic three days a week, but the students work there full time. The students do a variety of work with patients, including anticoagulation monitoring for those who take the blood thinner warfarin. “Based on their lab results, the students can make recommendations to physicians to adjust the patients’ medicine,” Shell says.
The students began administering influenza and other immunizations last September. Their help with these shots allowed more people to receive the vaccinations with shorter wait times for the patients.
Patient education is important in the PCMH, and pharmacists will play an important role in that effort going forward. “Diabetic patients are referred to us to learn how to use blood glucose monitors and how to give self-injections. We also talk to patients with diabetes about how to manage their disease,” Shell says. “Patients need education around medication, adherence, and understanding how medications play a key role in disease management.”
The students also help with medicine reconciliation when a patient is discharged from the hospital. “They compare the list of medicines from the hospital to make sure it matches what the doctor had prescribed,” Shell says. “The opportunity for pharmacists to see patients post discharge helps ensure that patients receive timely follow up and that they understand their new plan of care.”
The staff at Baptist Health Center Hoover Primary Care is excited about the chance to work with the students and faculty from Samford University to provide quality health care with increased patient involvement.
“To quote the president of the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA), Margaret E. O'Kane, Hoover Primary Care ‘has the tools, systems, and resources to provide its patients with the right care at the right time,’” Gardner says. “This is exactly what our partnership with Samford’s School of Pharmacy ensures, while improving quality of care and outcomes for our patients.”