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Bringing the Pharmacist's Perspective to Primary Care

Medical College of Wisconsin's Academic Fellowship in Primary Care Research

As the healthcare landscape changes and evolves, so does the role of the pharmacist. Once narrowly defined as product distributors, pharmacists are becoming more integrated into care delivery teams, helping to prevent medication errors, improve safety and positively impact health outcomes. A unique fellowship at the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW) is bringing the pharmacist’s perspective to research in primary care.

The Academic Fellowship in Primary Care Research prepares residency-trained primary care physicians, psychologists, pharmacists, advance-practice nurses and postdoctoral social scientists for productive careers in academic primary care, with a vision to improve access to high quality primary health care, reduce health disparities and improve the health of our citizens and communities.

Linda N. Meurer, MD, MPH, Professor of Family and Community Medicine at the MCW School of Medicine and fellowship director, is looking forward to the addition of pharmacy faculty and fellows, which she says challenges everyone involved with the fellowship to consider primary care more broadly. There are currently six positions in the fellowship program each year, with rolling start dates between July 1 and June 30. The program is actively seeking a pharmacist to fill one of the positions available.

“We have faculty from various backgrounds, bringing a wealth of experience to our program,” she says. “We have already seen the benefits of incorporating faculty from the social sciences and behavioral health into the fellowship. The addition of faculty and fellows with different training and perspectives results in more creative solutions as we look for new ways to collaborate in practice and the community.”

Dr. Meurer points to collaboration between the MCW School of Pharmacy and the School of Medicine as an example of the impact that inviting new perspectives can have on learning and research. Kajua Lor, PharmD, BCACP, associate professor and chair of the department of clinical sciences, is one of two School of Pharmacy faculty members participating in the fellowship this year. She is excited about all of the possibilities for research she can help guide as a mentor.

“From medication management to examining the use of herbal medicines, there are so many opportunities for research that could improve primary care outcomes,” says Dr. Lor.

Before joining the faculty at MCW, Dr. Lor practiced in a clinical setting where pharmacists were directly involved in patient care. Before seeing their primary care provider, patients met with a pharmacist to review the prescription and over the counter medications they were taking, and discuss any potential interactions or misuse.

According to Dr. Lor, models like this are becoming more common. “The School of Pharmacy at MCW is designed to provide PharmD graduates with the knowledge and skills necessary to fulfill all aspects of the expanding role of the pharmacist,” she says. “This includes providing vaccines, patient care services such as taking vitals or strep tests and conducting research.”

“The Academic Fellowship in Primary Care Research is only one of two primary care fellowships currently available to pharmacists advertised with the American College of Clinical Pharmacy,” said George E. MacKinnon III, PhD, MS, RPh, FASHP, Founding Dean of the School of Pharmacy, “ We really have a unique opportunity here to provide specialty training that leverages the role of the pharmacist to achieve better health outcomes in patients.”