Teaching the building blocks of a collaborative pharmacy practice, BC pharmacist Jason Min schools his students on making the grade.
By Jack Kohane
Photography by Desy Cheng
“It is critically important for pharmacists to collaborate — and for others to collaborate with pharmacists — to help address many of the issues we are seeing in community practice,” he says. “When pharmacists are not included in collaborative teams in situations where medications are involved, you cannot expect to have optimal care of the patient.”
Pharmacists are often underutilized team members in community practice, though times are changing, opines Min. “When you put pharmacy in a collaborative team you maximize the role of the pharmacist to the fullest scope of practice, which enables a more clinical, care-oriented service. This enhancement to the practice of pharmacy is more valuable to the patient, other health professionals, and is ultimately a more rewarding practice for pharmacists.”
Min practises what he preaches in the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Vancouver, as one of the expert pharmacists providing medication advice to patients at the ground-breaking Pharmacists Clinic, Canada’s first university-affiliated, licensed, pharmacist-led patient care clinic.
Open since November 2013 and officially launched in April 2014, the Pharmacists Clinic is touted as the best and future model of pharmacy care. “This is where we can work with patients and other healthcare professionals to optimize patient drug therapy outcomes,” Min explains, adding that the clinic is designed to help patients manage their prescription or over-the-counter medicines, supplements and natural health products. “We believe the end result is better care.”
Identifying or resolving actual or potential problems, including side effects or complications, is a big part of the service provided at UBC’s new Pharmacists Clinic, as are recommendations in reports to doctors.
Located in the Pharmaceutical Sciences Building, the 1,470-sq. ft. space consists of five consultation rooms equipped with state-of-the-art point-of-care equipment and software, including blood pressure monitors and access to electronic healthcare information through Excelleris technology.
Services provided free of charge to patients who come to the clinic by physician- or self-referral, include comprehensive medication reviews and vaccinations. The clinic, which was first conceived in 2010 by UBC pharmacy faculty members, also serves as a teaching site for UBC’s pharmacy students and practising pharmacists seeking professional development opportunities, and a kind of “living laboratory” where health outcomes research will be conducted to help tackle healthcare problems, such as medication adherence.
Evolving patient care
“Patient care is a continually moving target,” says clinic director and pharmacist Barbara Gobis. “Identifying or resolving actual or potential problems, including side effects or complications, is a big part of the service provided there, as are recommendations in reports to doctors. We are calling this clinic a proof of concept for what pharmacists are trained and capable to do. The clinic will continually evolve to model pharmacists practicing to the maximum of our scope.
Gobis affirms that interdisciplinary teaching of pharmacotherapeutics provides health professionals with greater insight into their respective roles. She points to a recent university initiative as an example: an interprofessional education pilot project done at UBC in which pharmacy students collaborated in the care of patients with students from the university’s Faculty of Dentistry. In total 22 patients between the ages of 51 and 95 participated in the pilot project. Eighteen of those patients were referred for follow-up at the Pharmacists Clinic to resolve drug therapy problems indentified by the students. “The pilot was a success, and collaborative practice has been shown to improve the quality use of medicines,” Gobis concludes.
Min notes that pharmacy practice has been changing for many years and it is up to those currently working to continue seeking and applying changes in their own practice. “Pharmacy still has many more changes that need to be made in the years to come; incorporating collaborative processes is just the beginning.
Top takeaways to become a better healthcare collaborator
- Ensure you are current in drug and therapeutic knowledge that is practical and applicable to your patients.
- Establish a support network of likeminded colleagues with whom you can share ideas.
- Remember that you have the most experience and practical knowledge about medications within the care team and your patients need you to speak up.
- Use a respectful, collaborative approach to build relationships and trust with others.