Education Leads the Way in Diabetes Management
On weekends, you may find May RESPy winner Allyson Greenberg studying at a coffee shop close to the campus of Midwestern University Chicago College of Pharmacy— and she might just have an entourage.
Greenberg has gotten a bit of a following among the regulars, who ask her questions about pharmacy and her experience studying to become a pharmacist. “My hope is that more people are becoming educated about the role of the pharmacist,” she says.
Indeed, Greenberg’s involvement in the Collaborative Health Advocacy Team (CHAT) allows her to take the role of educator, coach, and medication expert. CHAT includes students of medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, and other health care professions who offer their expertise at local clinics to help educate and meet the health care needs of underserved populations.
Greenberg’s focus is diabetes management, and through CHAT she discusses proper nutrition, exercise, and blood glucose monitoring with patients. She is even able to provide meters and supplies to those who need them.
As clinic coordinator for CHAT, Greenberg has helped the program expand to 2 more locations in the past academic year. Keeping the needs of the Chicago-area population in mind, Greenberg organized a presentation at one of the clinics called “What Is Your Diabetes IQ?” that was delivered in English, Spanish, and Polish simultaneously.
“One of the benefits of CHAT is having the opportunity to educate the general public of how useful the pharmacist is on the interdisciplinary team when managing chronic disease states,” she says.
In addition to educating patients, Greenberg has also helped instruct her colleagues on best practices. At the 2011 American Association of Diabetes Educators Annual Meeting, for example, Greenberg copresented the preliminary outcomes of the Illinois component of the Ten City Challenge with a presentation titled, “Taking Control of Your Health— Diabetes Self-Management Program.”
Greenberg’s colleagues describe her as professional, organized, and extremely passionate about pharmacy and patient care. Whatever practice setting Greenberg chooses after graduation, she is sure to put these skills to good use.
Q. Why is the CHAT program important?
A. The CHAT program is beneficial to students, but even more beneficial to patients. At one of the clinics that I attended monthly for 1 year before starting our Chicago clinic, we had a patient who came to our session each month to learn about diabetes. This patient would bring her 3 children and take the bus to attend our class. After 1 year of consistently attending our group, the patient became educated and achieved consistent glycemic control, resulting in reduction in medications. It was rewarding for me to see her progress, but it was more exciting to see how proud the patient was of her more diligent lifestyle for her entire family.
Q. Was there a moment when you knew pharmacy was right for you?
A. During my first quarter of pharmacy school, I remember sitting through a lecture in which I learned about the ways the community can utilize their pharmacists. Many people are not aware that students complete many courses not only to specialize in drugs, but also to learn about the pathophysiology of different disease states. It is important to know your pharmacist. By building this rapport, it is more likely a patient would share valuable information regarding their health so that the pharmacist can provide the best health care.
Q. What do you think is the most important issue in the field of pharmacy today?
A. I think one of the most important issues in the pharmacy profession is our lack of recognition as a health care provider. Because our education has evolved to include the doctor of pharmacy degree, pharmacists can offer cognitive services to patients and be an asset to other health care professionals as their medication expert. The pharmacist can act as a coach to help empower patients to control their lives with a chronic disease.
Q. What do you think is the most important quality for a pharmacist to possess?
A. Communication skills. Without skills to communicate to patients and other health care providers, it doesn’t matter how much information we know, it will never reach anyone.
About the school
Midwestern University Chicago College of Pharmacy’s PharmD program provides students with enhanced experiences in the biomedical, pharmaceutical, and clinical sciences. The Chicago College of Pharmacy offers a full-time, traditional PharmD program that is completed in 6 years.
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The RESPy (Respect, Excellence, and Service in Pharmacy) Award is presented to the student who has made a difference in his or her community by demonstrating excellence in pharmaceutical care. For more information, please visit www.PharmacyTimes.com.