Vital Record » Pharmacy http://news.tamhsc.edu Your source for health news from the Texas A&M Health Science Center Fri, 21 Nov 2014 19:22:17 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Pharmacy researcher looks for ways to increase medication absorption http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=pharmacy-researcher-looks-for-ways-to-increase-medication-absorption http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=pharmacy-researcher-looks-for-ways-to-increase-medication-absorption#comments Tue, 18 Nov 2014 20:05:42 +0000 http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post_type=post&p=22013 Researcher with the Texas A&M Health Science Center Irma Lerma Rangel College of Pharmacy looks for ways to extend the release of medication in the body]]>

While taking a medication is oftentimes as simple as popping a bottle cap and filling a glass of water, many patients do not realize the complexity of the work that led to manufacturing that drug. Researchers spend lengthy periods of time designing formulations that can extend the efficacy of medicine or increase its impact on relief.

One such researcher, Mohammad Nutan, Ph.D., associate professor of pharmaceutical sciences at the Texas A&M Health Science Center Irma Lerma Rangel College of Pharmacy is interested in bioavailability, or the rate and extent at which a substance is absorbed in the body.

“When you take a tablet of medication, it lasts for maybe just a few hours,” Nutan said. “We have the ability to extend the medication with design, whether it is prolonging it in some way or having someone consume the medication by an alternative method—intramuscularly for example. If we developed a formula that could extend the release of the medication, it could ease this process for patients.” An example of such release is Allegra® medications. A consumer can purchase a 12-hour formula or a 24-hour formula, depending on the needs of the patient.

Nutan is looking for ways to ease patient care and rehabilitation; and so far, has found means of prolonging the duration of action of medication in the body, making it more convenient for patients. His current research focuses on improving absorption of fat soluble drugs obtained from natural sources, thus the advantage of extending drug release is combined with the benefits of using natural products.

“One thing we often do is look at the effects of different factors used in different formulations to increase bioavailability,” Nutan said. “How do these factors truly affect it? We occasionally use experimental design, prepare multiple formulations and see which model works.”

By using experimental design, Nutan uses less time and resources to complete his research, which allows him to gather more data to find the formulation with optimized properties.

“The design allows you to measure the effects of various factors, such as particle size of the drug and the amount of each ingredient used, on some important factors including extent of drug release and product stability,” Nutan said. “The formula with the best desirable characteristics can be predicted by using software and consequently such formulation can be prepared to verify the expected outcomes.”

Nutan is currently studying curcumin, which is a natural substance in turmeric that is helpful in treating certain cancers and used as an antioxidant. Using animal models, he looks at the relationship between the changes in the experiment and the outcome after discovering how much of the drug is released at certain specific time points throughout the process.

More than just advancing discoveries himself, Nutan also encourages his research students to test things on their own. He allows them to propose what they’d like to research and he supports them as they learn.

“The first thing they learn – and I learned – is that not every experience works on the first try,” he said. “In fact, more times than not, you get to start all over. But that is the beauty of research – finding solutions where you least expected them.”

Nutan hopes his work in the area of medical absorption will offer patients solutions that will ease, and sometimes expedite, their health and rehabilitation journey.

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Allergic to penicillin? You probably aren’t http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=allergic-to-penicillin-you-probably-arent http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=allergic-to-penicillin-you-probably-arent#comments Tue, 18 Nov 2014 17:05:12 +0000 http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post_type=post&p=22015 Penicillin is often the first line of defense for a number of common illnesses, including ear and sinus infections, strep throat, chest infections and urinary tract infections. But when a patient is allergic to the ‘superdrug,’ physicians are left with few antibiotic options that are oftentimes less effective, more expensive and can cause greater side effects, putting you at more risk for drug resistance]]>

Penicillin is often the first line of defense for a number of common illnesses, including ear and sinus infections, strep throat, chest infections and urinary tract infections. But when a patient is allergic to the ‘superdrug,’ physicians are left with few antibiotic options that are oftentimes less effective, more expensive and can cause greater side effects, putting you at more risk for drug resistance.

However, new research suggests that a majority of people who think there are allergic to penicillin are actually not. In fact, in one study, 94 percent of people who believed they were allergic to penicillin tested negative during an allergy test for the drug.

All too often, people have a bad experience with penicillin as a child, such as a skin rash following dosage of penicillin, but were never actually tested to see if they were truly allergic.Differences between penicillin side effects and allergic reactions

“People tend to confuse side effects with allergies,” said Andrea M. Luce, Pharm.D., assistant professor at the Texas A&M Health Science Center Irma Lerma Rangel College of Pharmacy. “People will experience a side effect and think it’s an allergy. It’s vital to know the difference between a side effect and a true allergic reaction to the medication.”

The most common side effects include: stomach pain, nausea or vomiting. In a true allergy to penicillin, patients have an anaphylactic reaction, including swelling of the airways, hives and shortness of breath.

“Recently, a patient expressed that they were allergic to penicillin and we asked what happens when they take it,” Luce said. “The patient said they get light headed, which happens as a side effect rather than an allergy.”

Unsure whether you are truly allergic to penicillin or just had a bad childhood experience with the medication? Penicillin skin testing is the most reliable method for evaluating your sensitivity to the drug.

Why does it matter? Penicillin-based antibiotics are often much less expensive and reduce your risk for drug resistance. If you repeatedly administer highly powerful, non-penicillin antibiotics for infections, they can easily become less effective over time.

It’s important to discuss your allergies with your pharmacist or health care provider who can help you determine the difference between side effects and true allergies and whether you are a candidate for penicillin allergy testing.

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Texas A&M Rangel College of Pharmacy offers specialized rotation in drug addiction http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=texas-am-pharmacy-offers-specialized-rotation-in-drug-addiction-2 http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=texas-am-pharmacy-offers-specialized-rotation-in-drug-addiction-2#comments Fri, 31 Oct 2014 19:23:58 +0000 http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post_type=post&p=21896 The Texas A&M Rangel College of Pharmacy will offer an elective to students in substance abuse Advance Pharmacy Practice Experiential (APPE) rotations at the South Texas Substance Abuse Recovery Services (STSARS) in Corpus Christi as an option for professional student pharmacists who are interested in treating addictions]]>

Drug abuse is a problem that is faced by millions of Americans every day. According to a survey conducted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse in 2011, an estimated 22.5 million Americans 12 or older—or 8.7 percent of the population—had used an illicit drug or abused a psychotherapeutic medication in one month. That number was up from 8.3 percent in 2002.

Texas A&M Health Science Center Irma Lerma Rangel College of Pharmacy faculty and staff understands the importance of professional student pharmacists learning about addiction so they can put that knowledge into practice by serving as a resource for patients and their family members facing such situations.

Bree Watzak, Pharm.D., assistant professor of pharmacy practice, takes students to a week-long program on alcoholism and other drug dependencies at the University of Utah School of Medicine each summer. The experience challenges students both emotionally and professionally, as they are able to see how addiction truly works by sitting in on 12-step programs and group therapy sessions of addicts, learning that addiction is not purely a choice of an individual, it becomes a disease.

The program allowed students to see addiction from the perspective of others, while expanding their knowledge of the disease, using innovative strategies and methods. Each student participant was made aware of the signs of drug addiction and that ultimately, anyone from any background could suffer from the disease.

As an option for professional student pharmacists who are interested in treating addictions, the Texas A&M Rangel College of Pharmacy will offer an elective to students in substance abuse Advance Pharmacy Practice Experiential (APPE) rotations at the South Texas Substance Abuse Recovery Services (STSARS) in Corpus Christi.

Students who take this course as an APPE elective will gain an appreciation of the disease model of drug addiction. This six-week experience will serve as the culmination of an experience that will give students a glimpse of the other side of drug addiction, the illicit use of both prescription and street drugs. This is a unique pharmacy program offered to very few professional students and will allow for a niche in their education and pharmacy practice opportunities.

“My colleagues and I wanted to get the students from the Texas A&M Rangel College of Pharmacy involved in learning about substance abuse,” said Ron Garza, R.Ph., pharmacist at DeLeon’s Pharmacy and a preceptor for the college. “That way, when they get out in their own practice, they’ll understand the behavior of true addicts. They will be able to know what to do if they run into someone with these behaviors, because it is a very critical area and they can be involved in intervention techniques.”

Though many families experience addicts in their lives, they only understand the physical and emotional aspects of drug dependency, never the chemical side. The program allowed professional student pharmacists to see how a single chemical can change someone and their personality.

Students will learn that overcoming an addiction is something that has to be done progressively. With the newfound knowledge, students can fight side-by-side with those facing a daily battle with addiction.

“I was truly inspired and impressed by students who are interested in substance abuse and addiction,” Garza said. “I attended a program at the University of Utah School of Medicine and was moved by them and the fact that they seemed to have a spiritual experience. We have to keep students like these going, as they are getting into something magnificent. They will be great citizens and professional pharmacists.”

Students who are interested in preventing addiction, identifying those who are addicted, and reaching out to families of drug abuse and offer support can receive hands-on training through this program. More than anything, professional student pharmacists will be able to assist people who are suffering with addiction and help them to become loving friends and family members again.

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Pharmacy students impact lives, one patient at a time http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=pharmacy-students-impact-lives-one-patient-at-a-time http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=pharmacy-students-impact-lives-one-patient-at-a-time#comments Tue, 30 Sep 2014 14:38:08 +0000 https://news.tamhsc.edu/?post_type=post&p=21445 The Texas A&M Rangel College of Pharmacy received a $5,000 grant to enhance service learning projects from the Coastal Bend Community Foundation for professional student pharmacists on Sept. 10 at the Del Mar Economic Development Center in Corpus Christi. ]]>
Bryan Donald, third-year professional student pharmacist at the Texas A&M Health Science Center Irma Lerma Rangel College of Pharmacy, volunteers at a service learning event.

Bryan Donald, third-year professional student pharmacist at the Texas A&M Health Science Center Irma Lerma Rangel College of Pharmacy, volunteers at a service learning event.

A patient sat down to their have blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels checked at the Kleberg County Health Fair in the spring. After checking the levels, a professional student pharmacist asked how the patient was feeling. The patient answered, “Well, I do have a headache and I am kind of tired, but I think I am just stressed from working all day.”

Turns out, the patient had high blood pressure and was unaware of the problem.

“That’s my favorite part of community outreach,” said Bryan Donald, third-year professional student pharmacist at the Texas A&M Health Science Center Irma Lerma Rangel College of Pharmacy. “When a patient does not even know something is wrong and we have the opportunity to let them know they need to see a doctor; it’s the best feeling in the world. We made a difference and potentially saved a life.”

Patients respond well to student volunteers, said Donald, who is from Corpus Christi, Texas. “They see us and know we are here to help them. They thank me for coming even before I begin to help them,” he said.

One-third of the curriculum for professional student pharmacists includes practicing in health care settings and many of these experiences focus on serving communities in the South Texas region. Since 2011, students have provided vital services to patients in underserved communities and touched more than 50,000 patients’ lives.

To enhance service learning projects, the Texas A&M Rangel College of Pharmacy received a $5,000 grant from the Coastal Bend Community Foundation for professional student pharmacists on Sept. 10 at the Del Mar Economic Development Center in Corpus Christi.

“Through service learning projects, professional student pharmacists interact with the community to improve public health in the South Texas region,” said Mary Chavez, Pharm.D., interim vice dean, professor and chair of pharmacy practice. “Service learning educates professional student pharmacists, and these events highlight the increasing role of the pharmacist as a prominent member of the health care team.”

The Office of Experiential Education is the backbone for service learning at the college. The college offers a variety of learning opportunities for in-depth exposure to, and active participation in, patient care throughout a student’s academic career.

Experiential education supports and fosters the individual goals of each student, according to Anna Brozick, Pharm.D., assistant professor and director of introductory pharmacy practice experience (IPPE).

“This is done while allowing students to transform their classroom knowledge into skills, attitudes, values and behaviors when interacting with patients and other health care professionals,” she said.

Experiential education begins in the first year of curriculum for professional student pharmacists. The early exposure to direct patient care establishes the attitude of caring for others. Beginning in the second year, and continuing through fourth year, students are given increasingly advanced opportunities to practice in pharmacy settings, including community or independent pharmacies, ambulatory clinics, surgical centers, veterinary clinics, community hospitals as well as large teaching hospital institutions.

Professional student pharmacists reach South Texas communities in various ways by offering blood pressure, blood glucose, and cholesterol screenings; smoking cessation education and counseling sessions; hands-on activities to teach children about medication safety, nutrition and exercise.  Funds from the Coastal Bend Community Foundation will be used to support cholesterol screenings, blood pressure monitoring, health literature, and motivational materials for smoking cessation and cookbooks.

The Texas A&M Rangel College of Pharmacy opened its doors to students in 2006 to meet a critical need in the South Texas community where there is a shortage of pharmacists. Today, more than 41 percent of the college’s graduates return to South Texas to help underserved populations. The college’s leadership strives to entrench a culture of excellence, education, research, practice and patient care to each professional student enrolled. Within a record amount of time, the college has been ranked in the Top 50 for pharmacy programs in the country, according to the recent US News and World Report.

The Coastal Bend Community Foundation was incorporated in 1981 with the mission of enhancing and improving the quality of life in the seven counties of the Coastal Bend. The Foundation serves donors by providing a vehicle for the establishment of various types of charitable funds designed to fulfill their wishes. Since its inception, the Foundation has distributed more than $72 million from donor contributions and revenues to scholarships to students and grants to nonprofit organizations.

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Piecing together the puzzle: Addressing the primary care shortage http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=piecing-together-the-puzzle-addressing-the-primary-care-shortage http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=piecing-together-the-puzzle-addressing-the-primary-care-shortage#comments Mon, 15 Sep 2014 22:06:21 +0000 https://news.tamhsc.edu/?post_type=post&p=21310 Texas A&M Health Science Center is heeding the call to fill the overwhelming primary care gap, not only by producing more primary care physicians and working with partners where possible to develop new residency programs or expand existing ones, but also by extending health care teams through educational programs in nursing and pharmacy and empowering patients through targeted research and outreach programs]]>

It’s no surprise the United States has been facing a shortage of primary care physicians for several years. This shortage, coupled with a growing population, an aging population (physicians included) and the entrance of newly insured individuals following implementation of the Affordable Care Act, will increase the demand for primary care services across the country. In Texas, this demand will likely be even higher since the state currently falls below the national average with just 165 physicians for every 100,000 individuals. In 126 of 254 Texas counties, primary care services are so low that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has declared these regions Health Professional Shortage Areas.

But why, exactly, are physicians in such short supply? The Texas shortage can be attributed to several factors. First, primary care interest from medical school students has traditionally been relatively low due to low-income potential compared with other specialties, but demand for primary care physicians has gone up. Following implementation of the Affordable Care Act, millions of Americans who were not previously insured are entering the health care system. The Texas population is outpacing the national growth rate, and more aging Baby Boomers are becoming eligible for Medicare every day. In addition, the prevalence of chronic diseases, such as diabetes and hypertension, is growing, requiring more health care services. And to top it off, about one-third of all doctors plan to retire this decade, but the number of available residency slots hasn’t kept pace with the increase in medical graduates, leaving some graduates in limbo, unable to secure on-the-job training required before they can begin practice.

Texas A&M Health Science Center is heeding the call to fill the overwhelming primary care gap, not only by producing more primary care physicians and working with partners where possible to develop new residency programs or expand existing ones, but also by extending health care teams through educational programs in nursing and pharmacy and empowering patients through targeted research and outreach programs.

Producing more primary care physicians

More than half – 92 out of 157 – of Texas A&M College of Medicine graduates placed in primary care residencies in 2014, well above the national average. In fact, recent studies by the Council on Graduate Medical Education show that fewer than 20 percent of all U.S. medical students are choosing primary care specialties. So, why are future Aggie physicians more attracted to the primary care setting?

“It has a lot to do with the kind of students we recruit,” said Paul Ogden, M.D., interim dean of the Texas A&M College of Medicine. “Texas A&M has always possessed a service mentality due to our roots as a land-grant university, and the physicians we train want to serve their patients. They get to interact more with their patients in primary care settings, and they value that service more than the money other specialties can offer.”

Throughout the years, the college has also established key partnerships in rural areas where health care services are in dire need. One such partnership with DeTar Healthcare System recently established a Family Medicine Residency Program in Victoria that addresses the critical need for more primary care physicians in South Texas. The three-year program, which will accept its first six residents in July 2016, and other upcoming partnerships of this nature, will play a key role in the development of a comprehensive physician workforce solution for the state.

However, the problem is not one-dimensional, and medical schools alone cannot fill the growing need for primary care services.

“Fixing the nation’s primary care shortage goes far beyond recruiting and training more primary care doctors,” Ogden said. “The fix isn’t physician-centric, because medical schools simply can’t produce enough physicians to address the need.”

Extending the health care team

To make bigger strides toward closing the gap, the primary care team must be extended with additional nurses and pharmacists, and Texas A&M Health Science Center is doing just that.

The Texas A&M College of Nursing recently announced the creation of a new Master of Science in Nursing – Family Nurse Practitioner (M.S.N.-FNP) graduate program. The program is expected to launch in January 2015, pending final approval from the Texas Board of Nursing.

The family nurse practitioner program will produce nurses who can provide primary, acute and specialty health care. Like registered nurses, nurse practitioners perform thorough assessments, but in addition, have the training to diagnose patients, prescribe treatments and medications, and assume primary responsibility for patients’ overall care.

Expanding the role of pharmacists is another avenue for filling the rising demand for health care.

“Today, more than ever, pharmacists are likely to be found engaged in conversations with customers, providing information on over-the-counter drugs, administering immunizations, and assisting with overall disease prevention and management, while improving patient medication adherence and outcomes,” said Indra K. Reddy, Ph.D., professor and founding dean of the Texas A&M Irma Lerma Rangel College of Pharmacy in Kingsville, Texas.

Research shows that patients who work with a team that includes a pharmacist and one or more physicians are more likely to achieve improved health goals. This co-management of the patient with the primary care provider offers more direct, patient-focused care and ultimately, better patient outcomes.

To that end, the Texas A&M Rangel College of Pharmacy trains future pharmacists in a variety of health care settings, and oftentimes alongside medical and nursing students in the clinical setting. Fourth-year students complete rotations in community pharmacies, retail pharmacies, clinics and hospitals. Pharmacy students also rotate through the Texas A&M Health Science Center Diabetes Education program in Corpus Christi, Texas, teaching diabetes patients about medication options, insulin administration and medication adherence.

Empowering patients with self-care education

Working with a comprehensive health care team can help improve patient outcomes, but there is one person who has perhaps the most impact on your overall wellness: you.

Researchers at the Texas A&M School of Public Health are working with clinicians to develop programs that educate the public about the importance of self-care in their journey toward overall well-being.

One of the gaps they have identified, both in research and in practice, is the disconnect between what is recommended in the clinical setting and how, or if, patients are implementing those recommendations in their daily lives. These recommendations include becoming more physically active, eating a healthier diet, taking certain medications and incorporating dietary supplements or drinking more water.

To help bridge that gap, the school has developed evidence-based, chronic disease self-management programs and fall prevention programs to educate patients on how to take control of their own health. The goal is to keep people healthy so they don’t have to see their primary care provider often or utilize the emergency room, which should help alleviate congestion of those services.

The school currently offers chronic disease self-management, fall prevention, physical activity and nutrition, stress management and medication management programs in the Brazos Valley region of Texas. Partnerships have also been formed with the Texas Falls Prevention Coalition, the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services and the Texas Department of State Health Services to build programs in other parts of the state.

“We are helping to build upon and expand the reach of clinicians by going beyond the clinic walls and into the community, engaging people in activities and teaching them skills that will help them better manage their chronic diseases, reduce their risk for falls, and avoid medication complications,” said Marcia Ory, Ph.D., regents and distinguished professor at the Texas A&M School of Public Health.

Utilizing community health workers

The Texas A&M Health Science Center Diabetes Education Program in Corpus Christi follows a similar formula as the programs disseminated by the School of Public Health. Health educators, who include nurses, certified diabetes educators, registered dietitians and nutritionists, teach diabetes patients in South Texas how to take control of their disease. The program consists of lab work evaluation, education and a one-year follow-up program to measure patients’ progress toward improved health. In rural areas where patients are unable to travel to the program’s clinic in the city, community health workers (CHWs) visit patients in their homes to take basic lab work such as blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar. They also answer questions, connect patients to services and provide informal counseling and social support.

Many health care providers are beginning to recognize the value of CHWs (also known as promotores de salud, community health advocates, lay health educators, peer health promoters and community health outreach workers) as a way to expand primary care services in rural areas. CHWs are usually not formally trained as health care providers, but they can deliver some basic direct services (like first aid) and administer health screening tests. Because they are members of the communities which they serve, CHWs are able to connect with patients on a peer level to provide culturally appropriate and accessible health education and information.

By expanding the health care team to include not only physicians, but nurses, nurse practitioners, pharmacists, community health workers, health educators and patients themselves, Texas A&M is piecing together the puzzle to help alleviate the current primary care shortage, and thus ensure that Texans are getting the best care possible. At the end of the day, health care is a team sport.

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Fast Facts: Hydrocodone products reclassified http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=fast-facts-hydrocodone-products-reclassified http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=fast-facts-hydrocodone-products-reclassified#comments Fri, 29 Aug 2014 16:25:27 +0000 https://news.tamhsc.edu/?post_type=post&p=21201 All hydrocodone combination products will be reclassified and more strictly regulated beginning October 2014, experts from the Texas A&M Rangel College of Pharmacy share what this means for consumers]]>

Beginning October 2014, all hydrocodone combination products will be reclassified and more strictly regulated. We sat down with Robert Hutchison Jr., Pharm. D., and John Bowman, M.S. Pharm., both faculty members at the Texas A&M Health Science Center Irma Lerma Rangel College of Pharmacy, to learn more about this reclassification and what it means to us as consumers.

Q: What products are we talking about?

A: According to the Texas Pain Advocacy Committee, pain is the most common reason that Texans access the health care system; and hydrocodone products and combination hydrocodone and acetaminophen products are among the most prescribed products in the U.S. As such, there are several hundred brands and generic products affected by this change.

Hydrocodone combination products contain hydrocodone, an opioid pain reliever and cough suppressant, in combination with other medications. Some combination products, such as Lortab®, Lorcet®, Norco®, and Vicodin®, contain hydrocodone and acetaminophen and are used to treat pain. Some combination products, like CodiCLEAR DH, contain hydrocodone and guaifenesin and are used to treat coughing associated with colds and flu.

Q: What are hydrocodone products now classified as?

A: The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), responding to the 2012 Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act, reclassified hydrocodone combination medications from Schedule III to Schedule II.   Schedule III drugs are defined as drugs with moderate to low potential for abuse, whereas Schedule II drugs are defined as drugs with a high potential for abuse. The move, announced in a federal notice this month, comes more than a decade after the DEA first recommended reclassifying hydrocodone due to its risks for abuse and addiction.

Q: I have a prescription for hydrocodone, what should I do?

A: Only prescriptions issued before Oct. 6 and authorized for refills may be dispensed, as long as such dispensing occurs before April 8, 2015. After Oct 6, the ruling allows a practitioner to issue multiple Schedule II prescriptions to provide up to a 90-day supply of medication. In addition, no verbal or faxed prescriptions will be allowed. Prescriptions may not be refilled without visiting with the health care professional first.

It is worth mentioning that individuals who use hydrocodone and other analgesics in the class called opioids are many times not seen by the prescriber for long periods. Seeing the health care professional for ongoing pain and monitoring analgesic effects provides for better care and helps prevent diversion.

Q: When will this ruling take effect?

A: The rule was published on Aug. 22 and becomes effective 45 days after this date.

Robert Hutchison Jr., Pharm.D., associate professor of pharmacy practice for the Texas A&M Health Science Center Irma Lerma Rangel College of Pharmacy, published several studies in pain management research, and also serves on the Texas Pain Advocacy and Information Network’s multidisciplinary committee. 

John Bowman, M.S., Pharm.D., associate professor of pharmacy practice for the Texas A&M Rangel College of Pharmacy, has been a practicing pharmacist since 1976, served on a chronic pain team, and served as a hospice pharmacist in pain relief. He also serves on the Regional Health Awareness Board representing the Coastal Bend area. 

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Bremick receives college teaching award for contributions to student pharmacists http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=bremick-receives-college-teaching-award-for-contributions-to-student-pharmacists http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=bremick-receives-college-teaching-award-for-contributions-to-student-pharmacists#comments Fri, 29 Aug 2014 14:21:59 +0000 https://news.tamhsc.edu/?post_type=post&p=21191 Mark Bremick, instructor at the Texas A&M Rangel College of Pharmacy, receives The Association of Former Students Distinguished Achievement Award for teaching. ]]>
Indra K. Reddy, Ph.D., professor and founding dean of the Texas A&M Health Science Center Irma Lerma Rangel College of Pharmacy, presents to Mark Bremick, B.S. Pharm., instructor, The Association of Former Students Distinguished Achievement Award for college teaching on Aug. 22.

Indra K. Reddy, Ph.D., professor and founding dean of the Texas A&M Health Science Center Irma Lerma Rangel College of Pharmacy, presents to Mark Bremick, B.S. Pharm., instructor, The Association of Former Students Distinguished Achievement Award for college teaching on Aug. 22.

A faculty member who exemplifies the pharmacy profession’s high expectations for professionalism, concern for others and dedication to service received one of the highest Texas A&M University honors that can be bestowed upon a faculty or staff member. The Association of Former Students Distinguished Achievement Award for college teaching was announced this past week at the Faculty and Staff Meeting.

Mark Bremick, B.S. Pharm., instructor of pharmacy practice at the Texas A&M Health Science Center Irma Lerma Rangel College of Pharmacy, was selected to receive the College-Level Teaching Award for his contributions to educating professional student pharmacists through a variety of roles.

“Professor Bremick is consummate teacher who has a great passion for teaching and a very caring attitude for students,” said Indra K. Reddy, Ph.D., professor and founding dean of the Texas A&M Rangel College of Pharmacy. “He is most deserving of this prestigious honor.”

As an active participant of the Curricular Affairs Committee, Bremick contributed significantly to improving the organization of the curriculum and has championed the adaptation of team-based learning techniques at the college. As a course coordinator, he reorganized a course critical to student success; this new structure improved students’ knowledge base, and it gave students the tools necessary to be successful in introductory practice experiences.

“Mark Bremick sets an example for students and instructors alike,” said Steve Peterson, Ph.D., professor and associate dean for academic affairs at the Texas A&M Rangel College of Pharmacy.

As a teacher, Bremick is known to be dedicated to developing thoughtful, informative and challenging course materials and encourages students to challenge themselves to produce their best work and not just to settle for good enough.

“In more than 30 years of academics, I have never seen anyone as dedicated to instruction,” said Peterson, who received the award in 1988 and 1993 while he was a faculty member with the Texas A&M College of Medicine. “His commitment continues to inspire me.”

Bremick is a recognized student advocate who actively reaches out to and works with students who are struggling academically to provide tutoring, mentoring and advising.

“I am sincerely honored and humbled to receive such an honor,” Bremick said. “Thank you to The Association of Former Students, Dean Reddy, and my colleagues, both faculty and staff, who are such supporters of my efforts.”

Components of the Texas A&M Health Science Center were invited to participate in the Distinguished Achievement Awards administered by The Association of Former Students. Each award consists of a $2,000 gift and a framed certificate. This award recognizes, encourages and rewards superior classroom teachers and is designed to distinguish those teachers who maintain high expectations for their students and ensure academic rigor in their courses.

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Stepping away from the textbook: A team-based approach to medicine http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=stepping-away-from-the-textbook-a-team-based-approach-to-medicine http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=stepping-away-from-the-textbook-a-team-based-approach-to-medicine#comments Fri, 22 Aug 2014 17:29:02 +0000 https://news.tamhsc.edu/?post_type=post&p=21132 As our health care system is transforming, it is important that the way we teach our future health care professionals transforms as well. Interprofessional education and team-based medicine are at the center of a growing movement of collaborative training among health professions students]]>
Teaching health professions students how to work and communicate together is a vital part of preparing them for real world experiences.

Teaching health professions students how to work and communicate together is a vital part of preparing them for real world experiences.

A mother rushes into the emergency department (ED), panic stricken by her infant’s high fever. Nurses console her, gathering what information she is able to relay, triage the child and order necessary testing. Pending those results, the ED physician wastes no time prescribing the necessary medication to stabilize the infant, the dosage of which a pharmacist calculates quickly and with precision—knowing that every milligram is crucial and too much can have potentially fatal consequences.

At every point, these professionals have to be cognizant of what the others are doing. Communication between the nurses, physicians and pharmacists has to be clear and efficient, because every second matters and any mistake could have severe repercussions.

Just reading about this scene would likely cause any parent’s pulse to race, but the good news is that this particular case resulted in a positive outcome for everyone involved. Featuring pharmacy, nursing and medical students, the neonatal sepsis simulation mentioned above is just one of the carefully staged scenarios conducted in the Texas A&M Health Science Center’s Clinical Learning Resource Center, a 27,000-square-foot, realistic hospital setting equipped with the latest tools and technology to enhance learning. The idea behind such multi-disciplinary simulations is simple, but vital: incorporate a team medicine approach to learning so health professions students are amply prepared for the realities of today’s health care setting.

“Team medicine is a concept that everyone—nurses, physicians and pharmacists—must employ in this day and age. Each health professional brings all of their knowledge, their specific understanding and training to the table, for the care of the patient,” said Jim Donovan, M.D., vice dean at the Texas A&M College of Medicine in Round Rock.

As research continues to show that issues with communication have a direct correlation with medical errors, interprofessional education, which is the method behind the team medicine approach to learning, is evolving as a medical education trend across the nation.

“Interprofessional education brings more of the ‘real world experiences’ into students’ training. It allows them to learn more about different disciplines so that they can work together efficiently and appreciate one another’s skills,” said Mary Chavez, Pharm.D., interim vice dean and chair of pharmacy practice at Texas A&M Irma Lerma Rangel College of Pharmacy. “With this newfound perspective on the bigger picture of patient care, providers can leverage collaborative knowledge to enhance outcomes.”

Traditionally, health professions curricula were taught in a fairly siloed approach, where students learned the fundamentals of a specific discipline, but gained limited knowledge of other’s functions in a real-world health care setting. Collaborative learning is aimed at breaking down those barriers and providing students with an understanding of the different training each profession undergoes, while simultaneously teaching students how to communicate clearly with one another.

“Before the idea of interprofessional education emerged, the first time that nurses, pharmacists and physicians interacted with each other was in the field—and they had no previous experience to draw upon as they quickly tried to learn how best to work together,” said Jerry Livingston, Ph.D., assistant professor at the Texas A&M College of Nursing. Livingston helps coordinate Texas A&M Health Science Center’s annual Disaster Day, an event that brings together nursing, medical and pharmacy students in a simulated disaster.

Disaster Day prepares students for a challenge they may encounter during their health careers, teaching them how to handle a high volume of patients and communicate effectively in a high-stakes environment

Disaster Day prepares students for a challenge they may encounter during their health careers, teaching them how to handle a high volume of patients and communicate effectively in a high-stakes environment.

Similar to staged simulation sessions in the Clinical Learning Resource Center, Disaster Day provides students with a realistic disaster that will broaden their scope of training. While extreme, the yearly event prepares students for a challenge they may encounter during their health careers, teaching them how to handle a high volume of patients and communicate effectively in a high-stakes environment.

Kept secret until the day of the event, the disaster scenario is almost exclusively selected and prepared for by students. While faculty members are present during the event, they take more of an observatory role, allowing students to evaluate and care for patients on their own.

“It allows students from different disciplines to become comfortable communicating with each other, because ultimately that is what they’ll have to do in their future careers,” Livingston stated. “If one student is concerned about the safety of a patient, they need to be able to communicate that concern in an effective manner to both the patient and the other health professionals who are onsite.”

While mock emergency simulations are obvious examples of interdisciplinary education, they are far from the only efforts to promote collaborative learning among disciplines. The Texas A&M College of Nursing offers a TeamSTEPPS elective, which stands for Team Strategies and Tools to Enhance Performance and Patient Safety. Developed by the military, TeamSTEPPS teaches students effective and efficient ways to remember common hospital procedures, such as transferring a patient, and tactics for effectively communicating with others.

There is no doubt that interprofessional education and team medicine will play a greater role in the future of health care. “Interprofessional training is a trend of the future that needs to happen,” Chavez stated. “Many institutions are recognizing the importance and benefit of training students of various professions together from early on and there has been a greater push for including more collaborative learning opportunities in curricula. In fact, many licensing boards are now encouraging schools to implement interprofessional education.”

Some lessons simply can’t be taught in the textbooks, like how to work together to improve patient outcomes.  Future Aggie health care professionals are being taught the collaborative real-world skills they need to excel before entering the workforce. “Frankly, medicine has always been a team sport,” said Donovan. “And the most effective physicians, nurses and pharmacists have always recognized the importance of working together. If they can’t practice as a team during education, how can we expect them to do that on real-world playing fields—hospitals and clinics around the nation?”

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Texas A&M pharmacy program expands to Bryan-College Station, improves access to health care across state http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=texas-am-pharmacy-program-expands-to-bryan-college-station-improves-access-to-health-care-across-state http://news.tamhsc.edu/?post=texas-am-pharmacy-program-expands-to-bryan-college-station-improves-access-to-health-care-across-state#comments Fri, 15 Aug 2014 21:01:26 +0000 https://news.tamhsc.edu/?post_type=post&p=21063 The Texas A&M Rangel College of Pharmacy, based in Kingsville, Texas, welcomed the first cohort of students in the Doctor of Pharmacy program to the Bryan-College Station campus]]>

COLLEGE STATION, Texas — The Texas A&M Health Science Center Irma Lerma Rangel College of Pharmacy, based in Kingsville, Texas, welcomed the first cohort of students in the Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) program to the Bryan-College Station campus last week. Approved by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education in July, the expansion of a pharmacy branch campus in Bryan-College Station marks a significant milestone for the college, providing additional opportunities for student pharmacists in Texas and ultimately resulting in improved access to quality health care throughout the state.

Established in 2006, the college was created to address gaps in the health care workforce in the medically underserved South Texas region. A result of the demand for additional capacity each year, with 647 applicants vying for 87 spots in Kingsville in 2013 alone, the college moved forward with plans to open additional seats in Bryan-College Station. This year, 87 student pharmacists joined the Kingsville campus, and for the first time in the college’s history, an additional 33 students began coursework in Bryan-College Station. The college plans to add 30 to 35 students to the Bryan-College Station campus each year until reaching the full, four-year complement.

“Through unbridled commitment to exceptional pharmacy education, the college continues to produce compassionate, patient-centered pharmacists to serve South Texas, and one-third of our graduates stay in the region to practice,” said Indra K. Reddy, Ph.D., professor and founding dean of the Texas A&M Rangel College of Pharmacy. “While our mission to alleviate the shortage of pharmacists in South Texas will remain ever-important, the expansion of a branch campus in Bryan-College Station will allow us to extend our reach and answer the call for improved access to care across the entire state.”

As the role of pharmacists in delivering care significantly expands over the next decade, the need for highly qualified pharmacy professionals is clear. In fact, according to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, the growth of the Texas population, the significant increase in the number of medications prescribed and dispensed to patients in Texas, and the continued expansion of retail chain pharmacy outlets are factors that contribute significantly to the demand for pharmacists across the state. Nationwide, a shortfall of as many as 157,000 pharmacists is predicted by the year 2020.

The expansion of the pharmacy program to the health science center’s existing Bryan-College Station-based professional programs in medicine, nursing and public health, will also afford students the opportunity to learn in a team environment, resulting in improved delivery of care to patients.

John Acosta, who received his Bachelor of Science in molecular and experimental nutrition from Texas A&M University in 2009, will return to Aggieland as part of the inaugural Bryan-College Station class.

“The expansion to Bryan-College Station will make it easier for pharmacy students to collaborate with medical, nursing and public health students,” he said. “This will help improve patient care and promote greater integration for pharmacists as valuable members of the health care team.”

The Texas A&M Rangel College of Pharmacy is ranked one of the Top-50 programs in the nation, according to U.S. News & World Report. To-date, the college has graduated 395 pharmacists – 45 percent of which hail from South Texas.

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