Mary Lynn McPherson, PharmD, MA, MDE, BCPS, CPE, professor and executive director of advanced postgraduate education in palliative care in the Department of Pharmacy Practice and Science (PPS) at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy, has been named a Visionary in Hospice and Palliative Medicine by the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine (AAHPM). She is one of 30 health care professionals, and the only pharmacist, to be honored by the organization this year in recognition of her continued work to advance the field.
“In the nearly 30 years since she joined the faculty at the School of Pharmacy, Dr. McPherson has achieved worldwide recognition as a trusted authority in the field of hospice and palliative care medicine,” says Jill A. Morgan, PharmD, BCPS, BCPPS, associate professor and chair of PPS. “She has dedicated her career not only to improving care for patients diagnosed with serious illnesses and their families as a practicing pharmacist, but also to educating future generations of practitioners to ensure that they enter the field prepared to have a marked impact on the lives of their patients. There is no one more deserving of this award, and our department congratulates her on this tremendous achievement.”
Pioneer in Palliative Care
An international expert in the field of palliative care and pain management, McPherson received her Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) from the school in 1986 and joined the faculty in 1990. She has maintained a practice in hospice and ambulatory care throughout her career while teaching extensively in the school’s PharmD program on pain management and end-of-life care. She established one of the first palliative care pharmacy residency programs in the United States at the school and recently launched an online, interprofessional MS in Palliative Care program for which she serves as director. She is the author of four books, including Demystifying Opioid Conversion Calculations: A Guide for Effective Dosing, and has received numerous honors and awards for her practice and teaching throughout her career, including the Presidential Citation from the Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association and the Robert C. Chalmers Distinguished Educator Award from the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy.
“I have had the pleasure of working with Dr. McPherson over the years on a number of educational activities, both with AAHPM and now with her recently launched MS in Palliative Care program at the School of Pharmacy,” says Vincent Jay Vanston, MD, FAAHPM, associate professor of clinical medicine at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, who nominated McPherson for the award. “She is a truly outstanding teacher. Through passion, humor, and a razor-sharp mind, she engages students and draws them into her commitment to providing excellent care for patients near the end of life. More importantly, she is a genuinely kind person. She is honestly interested in her students and works assiduously to help them achieve their goals.”
Pinnacle of Success
Hospice and palliative medicine is the medical specialty that focuses on improving quality of life and relieving pain and other symptoms of seriously ill patients. AAHPM is the professional organization for physicians who specialize in this field, though members also include nurses and other health care professionals such as pharmacists, who have demonstrated a commitment to improving quality of life for seriously ill patients and their families. Its Visionaries in Hospice and Palliative Medicine awards program was established in 2012. The award is presented to deserving leaders in the field every five years based on nominations submitted by AAHPM members. From the more than 140 nominations received this year, 30 practitioners were selected as recipients.
“This program recognizes key individuals who have been critical in building and shaping our field over the past 30 years,” says Steve R. Smith, MS CAE, chief executive officer for AAHPM. “These individuals represent thousands of other health care professionals in this country who provide quality medical care and support for those living with serious illness — each and every day.”
McPherson will receive her award at the Annual Assembly of Hospice and Palliative Care in March. She and the other honorees join the inaugural group of Visionaries named by the organization in 2012.
“It is truly an honor to have been named one of this year’s Visionaries in Hospice and Palliative Medicine, particularly given the list of ‘who’s who’ nominees for this prestigious award,” McPherson says. “I am touched that my peers thought that my work in the field to date has been of value, and receiving this recognition has invigorated me to continue my work with palliative care colleagues from across all health disciplines to further advance the role of appropriate medication management in serious illness.”
— Malissa Carroll