Providing Accessible and Compassionate Health Care

Pharmacy Times, May 2016 Skin & Eye Health, Volume 82, Issue 5

Throughout her studies at the University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy, aspiring pharmacist Katlyn Grossman has strived to use her knowledge and skills to serve her community.

Throughout her studies at the University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy, aspiring pharmacist Katlyn Grossman has strived to use her knowledge and skills to serve her community. Grossman was initially inspired to pursue a pharmacy career as a teenager, when both of her parents developed significant medical issues. Having spent a considerable amount of time at various health care settings for her parents’ care, Grossman found herself drawn to the empathy and professionalism of her parents’ pharmacists.

“I found that the pharmacists in all of these practice sites were always the most empathetic and the most willing to explain everything to me,” Grossman told Pharmacy Times. “I decided I wanted to become a pharmacist so that I could be that accessible, compassionate health care provider to whom patients could turn.”

While at pharmacy school, Grossman has lent her talents and goodwill to various volunteer activities, most notably the Panther Clinic, a student-run clinic in Pittsburgh for underserved patients in need of chronic disease management. She and several of her peers coordinated an effort to provide patients with free health evaluations while a team of pharmacy students and medical students worked together to develop a therapeutic plan for each patient.

“As part of the pharmacy team, I was in charge of making sure that we could provide free medications for our patients through patient assistant programs,” Grossman explained.

Grossman considers her most rewarding experience to be her work with the infectious disease team at the Philippines General Hospital in Manila. Given her keen interest in global health, Grossman was grateful for the opportunity to take part in a different style of health care, and hopes to be able to apply her observations throughout her career as a pharmacist.

“HIV is currently on the rise in the Philippines, and it was an eye-opening experience to be able to interview these patients every day,” she said. “My classmates and I were able to present some meaningful data about these patients’ perspectives and attitudes toward their medications at a health disparities poster session, which was fulfilling.”

Q: What is the most important quality for a pharmacist to possess?

A: I think it’s the ability to communicate with all audiences. Pharmacists have a unique role in which they must be able to work with people who have various roles and education levels, including other health care providers, students, and patients. It is the pharmacist’s responsibility to ensure that his or her patients understand the important things about their medications and that the pharmacist’s colleagues can understand the importance of his or her medication recommendations.

Q: What is the most important issue in pharmacy today? Why?A: A growing issue in pharmacy is the rising cost of medications. Even though insurance coverage is expanding, the cost of drugs can still be prohibitive for many patients. As pharmacists, we must work with patients to develop affordable therapeutic plans and work, on a larger scale, with policy toward pharmaceutical companies in order to limit the significant rise in costs.

Q: Is there a specific patient or person you’ve worked with who taught you something that will help you be a better pharmacist?A: All of the patients and preceptors I have worked with have definitely impacted how I will practice as a pharmacist. One preceptor in particular, Dr. Katie Greenlee, really changed the way I approach learning about medications. During my cardiology rotation, she recommended that every day I look up 2 drugs, learning all their specifics. I quickly realized that what I learned in school was more focused on the diagnosis and therapeutics of diseases, rather than on the pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of medications. I realized I didn’t know important details about medications with which I thought I was very familiar. The process of looking up these drugs every day reinforced the importance of lifelong learning and allowed me to become more familiar with the drugs I was being asked about on rounds.

About the School

The University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy offers a traditional PharmD program, as well as a dual-degree program that enables students to also pursue a PhD or a master of science in pharmacy business administration. Students can also apply to one of the school’s research fellowships, which provide participants with the opportunity to further their studies in geriatric pharmacotherapy or community care.

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