Expert: Direct Patient Care Aids the Revision of Pharmacy, Celebrating the Roles of the Profession

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Erica Marchese, PharmD, MHA, BCPS, BCOP, BCSCP, discussed the revision of pharmacy and the contributing roles within the pharmacy team.

Erica Marchese, PharmD, MHA, BCPS, BCOP, BCSCP, discussed the revision of pharmacy and the contributing roles within the pharmacy team, to celebrate American Pharmacist Month

Pharmacy Times

Can you introduce yourself?

Pharmacy Interior - Image credit: Tyler Olson | stock.aobe.com

Image credit: Tyler Olson | stock.aobe.com

Erica Marchese

First, thank you Aislinn, this is a great opportunity and so much fun. I'm a huge advocate in the health care arena, especially with when it comes to the pharmacy profession in particular, and really hope that this can inspire some others. But to answer your original question, and to introduce myself, my name is Erica Marchese. I am the director of Pharmacy here at City of Hope, Chicago.

Pharmacy Times

How did you get into pharmacy?

Erica Marchese

Sure, so it's kind of a funny story. I really did not plan on getting into pharmacy at all.I was in my undergraduate degree, and I was pursuing a degree in psychology. At the same time, I had a good friend whose boyfriend was in pharmacy school at the time and knew I was looking for a part time job. He suggested that I apply to CVS as a pharmacy technician. I honestly didn't even know what that entailed. But I applied and I got the job. I think now that I look back, I don't think I ever would have thought that a part time job would have really laid the groundwork for what would eventually become my career. I was very blessed while I was there. I had the opportunity to work with two amazing pharmacists that I was constantly in awe just watching them support their patients, support us as a team and navigate insurance issues. They really inspired me to apply for pharmacy school. I guess you could say the rest is history. Here I am, I'm still in pharmacy now.

Pharmacy Times

How have you seen the profession change over your career?

Erica Marchese

I think from my time as a pharmacy technician and reflecting on my time now as a pharmacist, I've watched the pharmacy transition from more of a traditional drug focus basis to more of what we see now, as a patient focused state. It's actually so exciting for pharmacists in this area and it's very apparent that the pharmacist scope— the practice is constantly in revision. It's changing every day, honestly. But I think the best way to answer this question is to go down three different avenues. So, starting from a retail perspective, the most recent way you can really see these changes that are taking place are by looking at the COVID 19 pandemic. So, pre pandemic, you have pharmacists that were more in dispensing roles. Now post pandemic —we're coming out of the pandemic and pharmacists in these community settings are really that vital, accessible resource for patients. They're on every corner, they're there for their patients, and they're easy for patients to just access and get quality health care information. If we look at it more from a hospital perspective — which is where I currently am right now, I really think of the amazing group of pharmacists that are at City of Hope, Chicago. Really what they're doing every day — and that is direct patient care and it's awesome. They're managing drug therapies and dosing, they're educating patients on lifestyle modifications, they're monitoring, monitoring chronic illnesses, watching for possible interaction risks, monitoring for adverse reactions, side effect management— especially here that's big in the oncology world. I think what's really exciting too, is they're playing a vital role in really navigating the payer landscape. That's translating into a very positive impact to help reduce healthcare costs, and particularly for our health organization. Lastly, we can't forget our friends in industry. So, pharmacists are playing a huge role in industry as well, whether that's medical and regulatory affairs capacity, research and development, or quality control. Pharmacists are kind of making their impact by merging their scientific expertise with the manufacturer know how. Super exciting but I think if you summarize it all together, really the best thing after all these changes is that the pharmacist, us we're connected to our patients more than we ever have before. We really are playing that vital role and being that vital team member in the whole patient care model. Honestly, this is probably just the beginning. I think I can speak for every pharmacist listening and watching this video that pharmacists do a lot. We have a lot on our plate all the time. We really can help our patients in a very special way that no one else in the hospital can. So definitely exciting times for us.

Pharmacy Times

What is the value of the pharmacists to you personally, and to the overall healthcare system?

Erica Marchese

We really can help our patients like no one else can in the health care setting, especially in a hospital setting — which I know the best just in my current role. But when I think about the value of pharmacists and our overall health system, I really think about the reason that I love working at City of Hope Chicago. That's because of our model and how our pharmacists are really embedded into our care teams. This model for us has really improved in just medication safety, patient satisfaction, and overall, I think that results in just better patient outcomes. To dig into a little more about our model, our pharmacists are actually positioned in all of our oncology clinics. Right when the medical oncologist walks out of any patient room in the in the oncology clinics, they're able to start a discussion in live time with our pharmacists. Whether it's about labs or pre certs, or billing needs. I mean, the list is endless, dosing, frequencies, invocation, the whole gamut, we know. But we really have noticed that this sharing of patient care responsibilities between the provider and the care team and the pharmacists really helped to decrease the workload and stress on the other care team members. And that's awesome, but just to see everyone working as a team and pharmacists really being able to shine in their area of expertise. I also find this really, really awesome because there was recently an article that was published in the American Journal of Health System Pharmacists that really touched on this as well, is that the pharmacists are able to really help with that workload on these on these teams. No matter what team that it may be, but for us, it's these oncology teams. It really results in a lot of time savings for our care teams so that every specialty can just really focus on what they specialize in. I think we really kind of gravitated toward this model because it allows our pharmacists to be more proactive instead of reactive. I'm going to switch gears just for a second because it's pharmacy week and touch on the fact that it's not just our pharmacists, it's our whole pharmacy team. I have to give our whole pharmacy team a shout out, but they also play a very valuable role when it comes to patient care and the speeds of care delivery for us. We know we have our pharmacists, verifying counseling, supporting our patients, but we also have our pharmacy technicians that are compounding in our clean rooms, both hazardous and non-hazardous. They are giving our medications to a patient's bedside so our nurses can administer them safely. We know that pharmacy is not just a one-person sport, it's a team sport. So, a big shout out to our whole pharmacy team.

Pharmacy Times

How are you celebrating this American Pharmacists Month?

Erica Marchese

It is definitely one of our favorite months. I think you can ask any person on our team. There's lots of celebrations, food, laughs —you name it, gifts, everything. So, we take it pretty seriously. But on a serious note, I truly love celebrating with my team. They're all amazing individuals. We have our patients but truly these are the people that I see every day, I work with every day. It's their time to be proud and celebrate all the amazing work that they do every day. So, it's a great month.

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