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Course Educates Students on Patient-Centered Care

Published on 01 December 2012

Interprofessional patient-centered care continues to become more and more important, and St. Louis College of Pharmacy is committed to educating our future pharmacists in this area.

For sixth-year student Katie Derickson, participating in Interprofessional Patient Care, a required introductory pharmacy practice experience (IPPE) course in her fifth year, showed her how important it is to understand individuals, as well as medications. “My patient didn’t feel like her practitioner was the best person for geriatrics,” she recalls. “I taught her ‘Ask Me Three,’ a tool she can use to ask her physician and pharmacist questions to get the best possible care for her conditions and medications. She practiced three questions with me: ‘What is my main problem?’; ‘What do I need to do?’; and ‘Why is it important for me to do this?’ Then she became her own advocate and spoke with her physician.”

In 2007, the experiential programs faculty at STLCOP embarked on a redesign of the College’s IPPE program to align with new standards required for colleges of pharmacy. The development of the Interprofessional Patient Care course allows students to practice patient assessment and interviewing techniques to identify potential drug and/or disease-related problems; develop an assessment and plan for managing and monitoring those problems; communicate their recommendations to patients and other health care professionals; and document the interventions. The program is divided into two parts: direct patient care with an assigned community resident and interprofessional experiences with six other health care professional students at Saint Louis University.

The direct patient care part of this IPPE began with a partnership between STLCOP and Cardinal Ritter Senior Services, and has since expanded into several other older adult apartment communities in the St. Louis area. “The residents feel they benefit from the program, which has made it so successful,” says Gloria Grice, Pharm.D., BCPS, associate professor of pharmacy practice and associate director of experiential programs. “The course activities were designed for students to be able to offer a one-on-one, personal touch that residents in the community may not have.”

As the population ages, the role of the pharmacist in the lives of geriatric patients is taking on a greater significance. As Derickson explains, “It’s harder for these patients to always see the same physician or to make it to all of their appointments. Pharmacists can help in that area. We are the experts on medications and are more accessible to patients.”

The practical experience is also beneficial no matter what aspect of the pharmacy profession students pursue. “The goals of the program are to expose students to what it means to build a relationship, what it means to communicate with patients, and what it means to really serve as the medication expert and advocate for a patient,” Grice says. “I think all of those skills can be used in any setting.”

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