When we go to the hospital, we often picture doctors, nurses and other bedside team members who provide direct care. However, there are departments and medical professionals working behind the scenes at Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center to ensure the best possible care is delivered to each person who walks through the doors.
One “behind-the-scenes” department is the pharmacy. Covenant Health hospitals have teams of clinical pharmacists and technicians who are responsible for assessing lab results, evaluating the disease state of each patient, making medication or therapeutic recommendations and optimizing drug dosages. This is in addition to the traditional roles of preparing and dispensing medications.
Stefanie Reid, PharmD, BCCCP, is a clinical pharmacist at Fort Sanders Regional. She says, “Our job is to take care of the drug-related factors in each patient’s case. We look at each patient as a whole. We follow their care and make dose adjustments based on lots of factors, including how someone responds to their medication.”
Reid is a Knoxville native who has worked at Fort Sanders Regional as a clinical pharmacist (emergency medicine and critical care areas) since moving back to the area in 2017. She has served as director of the pharmacy residency program since 2018.
What is a Pharmacy Resident?
After completing four years of pharmacy school and earning their pharmacy doctorate, or PharmD degree, students go on to take both a knowledge-based exam and a pharmacy law exam. Upon passing these tests, they become licensed pharmacists who can work in a variety of settings including retail stores and hospitals.
The pharmacy residency program is a year-long, postgraduate training program in a clinical pharmacy setting. The Fort Sanders Regional program has been accredited by the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists since 2004.
Reid’s goal is to prepare pharmacy residents for clinical practice in a hospital setting. They interact with physicians and specialists, as well as the rest of the hospital staff who care for patients. The training also helps prepare pharmacy residents for optional board certification or for a second year of pharmacy residency in a specialized area, such as oncology, emergency medicine, critical care and more.
“Everyone plays such an important role,” Reid says. “It’s gratifying to see the evolution of knowledge, skills and confidence in the residents as they complete their year of training.”
Many of the residents who earned their licensure have gone on to work around the country, but many have become employed at Covenant Health. Currently, the health system employs 15 pharmacists.
Passion of an Educator
Reid and her fellow preceptors (staff pharmacists who train the residents) are dedicated to educating these new team members and have already seen the benefits to Covenant Health and to patients.
“During the one-year training, the residents learn how to dispense medication and understand the role it plays in patient care. We are motivated and passionate about teaching and giving the residents a variety of exposure to different scenarios so they are equipped to become excellent clinical pharmacists.
“This is an exciting time of year for me. After we complete the interview process in January, the residents are matched in March,” Reid says. “We are welcoming five residents to start with us this summer, and we bid adieu to the finishing class. It’s bittersweet, but so exciting.”
Learning from the Best
Each calendar month, the residents rotate through various pharmacy practice areas at Fort Sanders Regional. These areas include emergency medicine, critical care, infectious disease, neurology and cardiology, to name a few. They work with the medical staff to help serve the patients in each area of care. Each area focuses on a different patient population and disease state, and residents learn from the practicing pharmacists about consultations and dispensing medications in each stage of treatment. Residents also work with pharmacy leaders to develop leadership skills and improve problem-solving strategies.
“This monthly rotation gives them a well-rounded, in-depth view of each area of care,” Reid says. “As the flagship hospital of Covenant Health and our region, we see a diverse patient population. We are a community hospital and the region’s comprehensive stroke center, so we have a lot of regional referrals. Fort Sanders Regional offers care in many specialty areas, and the residents benefit from the experience of the varied types of patient care.”
Making an Impact
“We get to see how much the residents contribute to the hospital and the health system,” Reid explains. “In addition to their training, they complete project-based work that improves patient care and pharmacy processes.”
Reid says the residents attend meetings and present findings to physician leaders. These often result in a system improvement plan that ultimately benefits pharmacy practices and patient care across the system.
Reid adds, “The medical staff here are receptive and interactive with our pharmacy residents. Everyone from the specialists to the nurses and technicians all integrate them well.
“When we are recruiting candidates, we look for those eager to learn and work hard, and ultimately better serve our patients. The hands-on learning experience is invaluable for everyone involved.” The five pharmacy residents are:
- Jacqueline Aramburo, East Tennessee State University
- Katie Odum, University of Tennessee
- Nathan Park, University of Tennessee
- Madison Smith, East Tennessee State University
- Justin Young, University of Tennessee
Covenant Health contributed information for this article.