https://www.drugtopics.com/shingles-vaccine/side-effects-shingles-vaccinesPharmacists have come a long way since the days when their only responsibility was dispensing drugs.
Starting in the 1980s, pharmacists were urged to take on a vital role by providing medication expertise to ensure patients properly and safely use their medications. The 2003 Medicare Prescription Drug Improvement and Modernization Act fueled the change.
“The changing healthcare environment has required pharmacists to assume advanced roles. They now must focus not only on how to improve healthcare quality, but also on driving down healthcare costs, of which medications comprise a significant proportion, for organizations and patients,” says Bernice Man, PharmD, practice coordinator at Northwestern Specialty Pharmacy in Chicago.
“The increase in the number of specialty therapies has . . . promoted integration of pharmacists into clinics to ensure appropriate initial and continued education, as well as timely follow-up and medication management,” she adds.
As a practice coordinator and clinical pharmacist, Man supervises clinical pharmacists within specialty pharmacy, assumes administrative/management-oriented decision-making responsibilities, serves as the point person for electronic medical record issues, handles human resources-related activities and time cards, precepts pharmacy residents and students, and helps patients navigate their insurance benefits.
Pharmacists at Northwestern Specialty Pharmacy also recommend adjunct medications as necessary, perform interventions such as dose adjustments, clinically monitor patients after starting therapy, and counsel patients.
Synergies in Multiple Roles
Laura Happe, PharmD, MPH, wears a lot of hats as a pharmacist. She is not only editor-in-chief of the Journal of Managed Care and Specialty Pharmacy, but is also an associate professor in population health at Wingate University, Charlotte, NC; an adjunct associate professor at the University of Florida at Gainesville; and an author.
Happe warns, however, that multiple gigs like hers should be complementary and not in conflict. “In a gig economy, it is necessary to establish synergy between what I do, making logistics easier, and creating a better product,” she says.
As the journal’s editor-in-chief for the past six years, she sets the publication’s strategic agenda, makes final decisions about which articles to print, and oversees the peer review process.
In her role at Wingate, Happe teaches population and public health across interdisciplinary departments, providing an interprofessional educational experience for pharmacy students.
At the University of Florida, she is director of the managed care pharmacy track in a master of science pharmacy outcomes program designed for working professionals and post-PharmDs.
Happe’s book, If You Give an Ox an Oxy (Morgan James Publishing), is due out in November and is geared toward teenagers to use in conversation with their parents and teachers about opioids. She wrote it after she saw some disappointing statistics about the low rate of discussions between parents and their children on the subject of prescription drug abuse.
“I’ve never served in a retail setting because I have always been interested in nontraditional pharmacist roles,” Happe says. She notes an oversupply of pharmacists and insufficient roles in traditional retail and hospital settings, leading to shorter hours and less pay. “But there are a plethora of opportunities—research, consulting, analytics, technology, and writing—for specialized pharmacists with a secondary degree or additional experience,” she adds.
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