Dr. Kevin Yingling: MU pharmacy school takes next-generation approach to health care
The scenario is quite familiar. A patient arrives at the neighborhood pharmacy with a prescription for medication, which is then filled by the pharmacist. A few minutes later the patient leaves and returns home with the necessary medicine.
For the last hundred years or so this scene has been repeated millions of times a day in the United States. But, for the last 10 years, a move toward more communication, more education, more services and ultimately better health care has been evolving across the country.
The technical term is medication therapy management (MTM), and its implementation across the country is an effort to reduce the number of medication-related problems and medication mismanagement.
Simply put, pharmacists provide medication therapy management to help patients get the best benefits from their medications by actively managing drug therapy and by identifying, preventing and resolving medication-related problems. MTM can include medication therapy review, consults, monitoring care (blood pressures, blood sugars), immunizations, health and wellness programs, and many other clinical services.
To emphasize this, at Marshall we have implemented one of the most innovative pharmacy curriculums in the country. The program is intended to facilitate hands-on discovery and active learning experiences for the pharmacy student that is second to none.
MTM occurs in many different settings, from the community pharmacy to in-hospital services. In West Virginia, under a bill approved last year, pharmacists can engage in medication therapy management with patients — for instance, a Medicare patient with high blood pressure — through a team-based medical home approach. I believe this modernization of the pharmacy practice act helps move the state forward in many areas including pharmacy education and ultimately means improved quality and more accessible health care for patients. The legislation provides for pharmacists to become more active members of the health care team by managing medications in conjunction with the patient’s physician. Ultimately, the increased cooperation among health care professionals in the community setting improves the quality of care and provides increased access while decreasing overall costs.
Student pharmacists will be entering what is considered by many a top career field in coming years. Working alongside physicians and nurses, pharmacists offer medication management therapy and medicine interaction expertise. As our health care system evolves, it is essential health care professionals work collaboratively to enhance patient outcomes and implementation of MTM is one of the tools we are using in this team-based approach. At the Marshall University School of Pharmacy, the concept of interdisciplinary education is a top priority, and we are effectively engaged with providing team experiences for our students with others in the health care field at Marshall. Team-based health care that includes a physician, a pharmacist, a nurse, a physical therapist and others is truly essential for delivering the best care available to our patients.
Our students have chosen Marshall for their education because of the clear advantages that are offer here. They are contributing to our community through their time, talents and community service. We are a dynamic, public, affordable education option in an academic medical center. The Marshall Advantage is real and it is an excellent time to be in pharmacy.
Dr. Kevin Yingling is the founding dean of Marshall’s School of Pharmacy.
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