In the Field: University's Concept Pharmacy Teaches Students Real-World Skills

OCTOBER 06, 2015
Meghan Ross, Associate Editor
North Dakota State University (NDSU)’s Thrifty White Concept Pharmacy transforms abstract lessons learned in class into real-world skills. 
The concept pharmacy, built in 2003, offers students a chance to provide medication therapy management (MTM) services to qualified faculty, staff, and patients in the community. Those accepted as patients of the concept pharmacy take 3 or more prescription medications and receive free blood glucose, blood pressure, and cholesterol screenings from the pharmacy. 
The MTM work that students perform includes evaluating health information, conducting a comprehensive medication review, providing patients with required documentation, and performing point-of-care screening services. 
One patient complimented the work of 2 PharmD students and a supervising pharmacist for their MTM services. The patient said the students helped determine that one medication was not working well with another.
“They also made many good suggestions about generic medications I could take in place of some of the more expensive medications I now take, which is a real concern to me,” the patient said. “I was so happy to be offered such a great opportunity.”
Another patient, who said the experience has been “very beneficial,” noted that the students were friendly and helpful, and the adviser did a great job moderating. 
“Learn by doing,” the patient noted. “The students get plenty of experience in the classroom, and this program is invaluable experience for future pharmacists.”
Thrifty White Concept Pharmacy Background
The concept pharmacy program is led by 4 faculty members: Jeanne Frenzel, PharmD; Elizabeth Skoy, PharmD; Heidi Eukel, PharmD; and Alicia Fitz, PharmD.
According to the faculty members, the concept pharmacy allows NDSU School of Pharmacy to meet accreditation requirements and gives students the opportunity to explore pharmacy experiences in a simulated environment. 
“The concept pharmacy was designed as a unique and innovative educational environment used to prepare students to be successful in both community and institutional pharmacy settings,” the faculty members wrote in a collective statement to Pharmacy Careers.
As part of the required pharmaceutical laboratory series, students work in the pharmacy for 2 hours per week over 4 semesters. The pharmacy can hold 32 students, 4 faculty members, 2 pharmacy residents, and 2 advanced pharmacy practice experience students. 
The pharmacy has nonprescription and prescription medications, physical assessment and point-of-care testing equipment, and areas for patient consultation, long-term care, and compounding. 
“This specialized training environment capitalizes on the benefits of exposing students to a comprehensive pharmacy experience using multiple teaching methods reinforced by longitudinal learning,” the faculty members said. 
Technology at the Concept Pharmacy
NDSU pharmacy students have access to a range of technological tools, including medication dispensing automation, electronic medical records, specialty compounding equipment, telepharmacy, and point-of-care testing equipment, such as CardioChek and Cholestech. 
Each student also has an iPad, which can be used for video assessments of skills or research on medication information. 
Dispensing software also teaches students about directions for use and day supply calculations, and Parata Max is used to simulate dispensing work flow for pharmacists across the state. 
In addition, students can practice their blood pressure assessments and intramuscular and subcutaneous injection administrations using training arms, and they work interprofessionally with nursing students on a patient simulator. 
An electronic medical record also keeps track of patient information, vital signs, and laboratory and radiology reports for students. They can use this information, plus disease state management guidelines, to write SOAP (subjective, objective, assessment, plan) notes. 
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