Celebrating Pharmacists: Pharmacy Will Continue to Evolve


Nick Gazda, PharmD, MS, BCPS, CSP assistant director of Specialty Pharmacy Services, discusses how the pharmacy landscape is constantly changing, leading pharmacists to remain nimble and open.

Nick Gazda, PharmD, MS, BCPS, CSP assistant director of Specialty Pharmacy Services, discusses how the pharmacy landscape is constantly changing, leading pharmacists to remain nimble and open.

Q: Can you introduce yourself?

Nick Gazda: My name is Nick Gazda. I'm assistant director of pharmacy at Cone Health in Greensboro, North Carolina. I oversee our specialty pharmacy program, mid-access team, and embedded clinical pharmacists and specialty clinics.

Q: How did you get into pharmacy?

Nick Gazda: Pharmacy was always a very interesting career prospect for me. I was always really interested in the sciences and drug mechanisms and things, but also, I was always really interested and had an entrepreneurial spirit and interested in the business side of things. That kind of confluence just with the really unique nature of the profession of pharmacy kind of drew me in there. I did some volunteer work at the hospital near my school and undergrad and was exposed to some great pharmacy leaders and saw the impact that they were having, and from a clinical and a business perspective for the organization. It was really interesting to me, and that's kind of what started that interest.

Male pharmacist selling medications at drugstore to a senior woman customer | Image Credit: Zamrznuti tonovi - stock.adobe.com

Zamrznuti tonovi - stock.adobe.com

Q: How have you seen the profession change over your career?

Nick Gazda: That can mean a lot of different things. I think in the simplest sense of it having been in pharmacy for a short career so far. Just the mechanisms and drugs that are used to treat the different disease states are completely different than when I went through pharmacy school. I think that just highlights how rapidly evolving the clinical aspect of it is. It's really important for pharmacists to be nimble in our organizations, to be nimble with the changes, but there's also been a lot of just broader attention and changes in health care over the last, 5 to 10 years with the push from care to be more in the ambulatory versus a setting for a bigger focus on value-based care versus just fee for service care, legislative changes, and obviously, the COVID-19 pandemic, which I think accelerated a lot of things around technology, around telehealth that really highlighted some of those, some of those potential changes. It's really rewarding. It's exciting. It's certainly interesting every day. There's a lot of new things that come across, and you got to stay up to date with the changes. I think it'll continue to evolve, we'll continue to see, technology play a really important role, especially as there's been such a big attention on the workforce and what the workforce looks like in the future. Looking forward to see where it goes.

Q: What is the most rewarding part of pharmacy for you?

Nick Gazda: It’s a bit of a cliche answer, obviously. But I think it’s really eye opening the impact our pharmacy professionals at our organization can have for our patients. I’m fortunate enough to be with a health system that really leans on pharmacy to support our patients, both from a clinical perspective and an access perspective. We have lots of people talk about pharmacists being the medication experts, and the clinical value that they can provide on interdisciplinary teams that provide that medication expertise, but access for our patients and adherence and in navigating insurance and navigating financial assistance in those needs.

In my role, and we have a lot of that's driven by our pharmacy technicians and folks in those kinds of support roles, and that’s some of the biggest feedback and positive feedback that we've gotten for our patients, is the impact our pharmacy technicians have made to help get them get a copay card, or get them a grant, or help them navigate the really complex system to help them get on life saving medications. That’s what is really rewarding to see that and see just how it's so multifaceted the impact that our pharmacy departments can have on our on our patients.

Q: What is the value of the pharmacist to you personally, and to the overall health care system?

Nick Gazda: I mentioned it a little bit already, I think pharmacists are the medication experts. I think there's tremendous value there. They go through rigorous education in and know the ins and outs of those pieces, and it's become incredibly complex, and continues to become more complex. There's tremendous value I think when you think about it to the health care system and society, there's a lot of literature on this too, that, not only are pharmacists impacting clinical care, but their impact is almost limitless on the ability to decrease costs, improve safety, and really allow for our organizations in the health care system to be more sustainable in the future. That's a lot of the conversations I have with our organization is how we can identify problems in our organization, how our pharmacists and pharmacy technicians can help fill those gaps and solve them in a safe way for our patients in a sustainable way or a business perspective for organizations.

Q: How are you celebrating American Pharmacists Month?

Nick Gazda: We always do big celebration pharmacy week, every year. We have our Pharmacy Technician Day. We do a lot of things internally, as leaders of organizations, to celebrate our pharmacists and technicians. A lot of what I tried to do is also work with our colleagues that are outside of pharmacy to help continue to share the benefit that they're providing and celebrate them because in health care, it's fast paced. We don't always take the time to kind of sit back and recognize one another. This is a really good time to celebrate all the great contributions that we're making, to our patients, to the organization, to the community, and really, not only celebrate amongst ourselves, but really all of our health care colleagues in the organization.

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