Being Accessible in a Community-Based Pharmacy Residency

Published on 13 November 2018

During her final year at St. Louis College of Pharmacy, Katie Helm, Pharm.D. ’18, came to a fork in the road. Her career path had presented her with the opportunity to choose between pursuing a pharmacy residency or transitioning into a position at Schnucks Pharmacy.

Having worked at Schnucks throughout her time as a student pharmacist, Helm was offered a full-time position. It was a moment she had been looking forward to since she first started at the pharmacy, but she had always been curious about participating in a pharmacy residency program.

With some encouragement from Anastasia Armbruster, Pharm.D. ’09, BCPS, associate professor of pharmacy practice, Helm considered her options and realized there was a third option that would offer the best of both worlds.

“I didn’t want to regret not pursuing a residency, but I also knew I wanted to stay at Schnucks,” Helm said. “The College’s Community-Based Pharmacy Residency program allowed me to do both.”

In her PGY1 Community-Based Pharmacy Residency at Schnucks Specialty Pharmacy, Helm works with patients who are going through transplants or those living with disease states such as HIV, cancer or multiple sclerosis. She is also gaining experience at both advanced-specialty and clinic-based pharmacy practice sites.

“I truly get to experience what it means to be one of the most accessible health care providers,” she said. “It’s an amazing feeling knowing that I’m making a direct impact on my patients.”

Helm enjoys getting to know her patients and checks in to make sure they are adhering to their medication regimens. If the patient lives far away, Helm prepares a mail order prescription and ensures the medication is timed appropriately to arrive when the patient needs it. She also has the opportunity to work side-by-side other members of her patients’ health care team.

“One of my sites is located in the same office as some of my patients’ doctors and nurse practitioners,” Helm said. “This location not only allows me to serve as a resource for my patient, but also their health care team.”

Helm also has gained pharmacy leadership skills by participating in the College’s Resident Education Academy (REA), a certificate program designed to introduce teaching and learning principles, including abilities-based education.

“Through REA, I have been able to lead group discussions and instruct student pharmacists,” she said. “These experiences have grown my confidence and I’ve transferred the leadership skills I’ve learned into my workplace.”

Helm values being a well-rounded pharmacist. To show her patients how accessible pharmacists can be, she participated in community outreach events such as PrideFest and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Light the Night Walk. Once a week she also visits Food Outreach, a local food pantry created specifically for low-income patients who are chronically ill, where she counsels patients and learns more about their day-to-day activities.

Helm added, “It’s important to engage in my community to show my patients that I’m here for them.”

To learn more about the College’s PGY1 Community-Based Pharmacy Residency program, visit

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