Armbruster and Students Demonstrate Commitment to Patient Care During COVID-19

Published on 22 April 2021

Anastasia Armbruster, Pharm.D. ’09, FACC, BCPS, BCCP, associate professor of pharmacy practice at University of Health Sciences and Pharmacy in St. Louis, has provided excellent patient care while ensuring that her student pharmacists receive vital hands-on training throughout the COVID-19 pandemic in her clinical practice site at Missouri Baptist Medical Center.

“My patients are especially vulnerable to COVID-19 due to age and underlying conditions,” Armbruster explained. “It’s been important to me to work closely with my patients during this pandemic to ensure that they receive the lifesaving care that they need. Our team and my students have done a great job of adapting to the pandemic while still prioritizing patient care.”

As a cardiology specialist, Armbruster collaborates with Washington University’s Advanced Heart Failure team to optimize medication therapy, provide patient education and improve transitions of care for acute cardiovascular patients.

When the pandemic caused many clinics and medical facilities to close in spring 2020, Armbruster worried that her patients would miss out on crucial care. And she was also concerned how the pandemic would affect the advanced pharmacy practice experience (APPE) students she precepts.

“Our office closed for a few weeks in 2020 in response to the pandemic, but we returned in May to begin seeing patients in-person again,” Armbruster stated. “While we were closed we utilized telehealth as much as possible, but it’s important for patients with heart failure especially, to receive in-person care as much as possible. I also wanted to make sure our student pharmacists could continue to gain the hands-on experience they needed to prepare them for their future careers, so returning to in-person practice quickly was important. ”

As a preceptor, Armbruster gives APPE students the chance to serve on her interdisciplinary cardiovascular team. The team treats patients both in the hospital for acute treatment and also at Washington University Heart Failure Center at Missouri Baptist for outpatient care. Although physicians frequently see patients in both hospital and clinic settings, Armbruster notes that it’s unusual for pharmacists to practice in both settings.

“By collaborating with interdisciplinary teams both in the hospital and the clinic, my students are gaining a unique experience that parallels what their medical school colleagues are doing,” Armbruster explained. “That training will serve them well as future practitioners and collaborators, and we wanted to make sure these experiences could continue, even during the pandemic.”

Armbruster noted that giving students the chance to visit with patients in person and in dual settings provides important opportunities to build relationships with patients and their caregivers.

“Students have the opportunity to meet a patient in the hospital, when they are feeling their worst, and see them again in follow-up appointments, during their recovery,” Armbruster stated. “The patients often introduce us to family members or share photos of loved ones, and developing those connections helps the students understand the full impact of their work.”

By following the University’s COVID-19 protocols and precautions, Armbruster and her students have continued to do their work safely during the pandemic, protecting their own health and the health of their patients.

“The Department of Pharmacy Practice has worked hard during this pandemic to ensure that student pharmacists receive the hands-on experience they need to succeed in their fields while also prioritizing their health and safety,” Armbruster explained. “I’m proud of how well my colleagues and our students have adapted to this pandemic and continued to provide excellent patient care.”

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