University of Maryland Baltimore School of Pharmacy posts displayed by tag

Broadening My Pharmacy Horizons in Australia

Reflections from a University of Maryland School of Pharmacy fourth-year student on his renal transplant rotation at a public teaching hospital abroad.

My fourth-year rotations have been incredibly fulfilling, helping to prepare me to take on the role as one of the most trusted members of the health care team upon graduation this spring. I was even fortunate enough to complete an international rotation from Nov. 6 to Dec. 8, 2017, in a renal transplant ward at The Royal Melbourne Hospital in Melbourne, Australia. The Royal Melbourne Hospital is one of Australia’s leading public teaching hospitals and is heavily engaged in clinical research.

Diving In, Headfirst

As soon as I arrived in Australia, I delved into the professional responsibilities of a renal transplant pharmacist who makes clinical recommendations for kidney transplant patients to an interprofessional team composed of nurses, physicians, dietitians, social workers, and clinical assistants. My mentors provided me with hands-on experience in medication therapy management, patient education, and interprofessional teamwork. Adhering to renal transplant medications can be a daunting endeavor for patients due to the dramatic increase in new medications and subsequent array of adverse effects. I helped educate patients about their new medications by concisely verbalizing dosing instructions at a level that matched each patient’s understanding, while also employing images from the medication chart. I also periodically asked my patients questions to better engage with them.

Outside of direct patient care, I helped manage immunosuppressant drug-drug interactions and monitored therapeutic medication levels, such as the concentration of tacrolimus (an immunosuppressant) in patients’ blood. My preceptor then adjusted each patient’s pharmacotherapy based on our analyses.

Gaining a New Perspective

Something that immediately stuck out to me during my experience was that none of the health care professionals wore white coats in the hospital. I eventually learned that white coats are not typically worn in hospitals throughout Australia, which is notably different from the United States. I appreciated this change because, from my view, normalizing white coats among a select few team members creates social barriers among professionals and patients. Although I have participated in hospital rotations where nearly all health care professionals donned white coats, patients were visibly distinguished as the only stakeholders not wearing white coats, which might hinder their propensity to build rapport with the professionals overseeing their care. I felt that the ubiquitous lack of white coats helped empower teammates and, most importantly, patients by mitigating social barriers to transparent communication.

The rotation also oriented me to the health care system of Australia. Australia provides universal access to a comprehensive range of clinical services, primarily funded through general taxation. “Medicare” is the term used when referring to the universal access to public hospitals and subsidized medical care. According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, Australian life expectancy is ranked higher than that of the United States, which suggests that Australia’s health care indicators are robust.

Considering an International Rotation?

Students applying for international rotations should plan ahead to achieve a fulfilling experience. Applicants should highlight pertinent leadership, professional, and volunteer experiences in their application. Accepted students should complete site requirements, such as blood testing, immunization records, background check, visa application, and housing plan, several weeks in advance, as instructed by the preceptor. Lastly, I recommend they consult with the UMB Center for Global Education Initiatives for International SOS travel assistance registration and financial aid resources.

An Experience to Remember

I believe that all students can benefit from participating in an international rotation, as the experience will help them develop new, informed perspectives in global health. Through my experience, I learned a lot about how pharmacists can engage with patients and other health care professionals as part of a specialized interprofessional renal transplant team. Ultimately, I am thankful that I had the opportunity to represent the UM School of Pharmacy on an international rotation.

– Mudit Verma, fourth-tear student pharmacist

  
Mudit Verma Education, PeopleJanuary 12, 20180 comments
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Council Works to Spread Knowledge on Infectious Diseases

The Council of Infectious Diseases (CID) is an interest group within the UM School of Pharmacy’s chapter of the American College of Clinical Pharmacy – Student College of Clinical Pharmacy (ACCP-SCCP). Its goal is to increase awareness and educate the public about a variety of topics related to  infectious diseases (ID). The group was co-founded by two of this post’s authors — Andrew Wherley and Sumit Gandotra — through their mutual interest in infectious diseases, and it aims to help educate pharmacy students by hosting exam reviews, infectious diseases-specific tutoring events, and lectures on antimicrobial stewardship, and providing opportunities for students to shadow infectious disease pharmacists in the field.

Inspiring Future Generations

With the help of Meryam Gharbi, a fourth-year student pharmacist who previously served as president of the SCCP, and Kathleen Pincus, PharmD, BCPS, assistant professor in the Department of Pharmacy Practice and Science (PPS) who serves as faculty advisor for ACCP-SCCP and mentor for the UMB  CURE Scholars Program, CID developed a fruitful relationship with the CURE Scholars. This relationship led to the creation of CURE-ID events at UMB’s Community Engagement Center.

Established in 2015, the UMB CURE Scholars Program strives to prepare sixth- to 12th-grade students in Baltimore for competitive, lucrative, and rewarding research and health care careers, with the specific goal of developing student interest in oncology research.

Our most recent CURE-ID event was held Nov. 19, 2017, and began with a pre-quiz led by Dijo Abraham, a third-year student pharmacist and webmaster for CID. The purpose of the pre-quiz was to introduce the activities that would take place during the event and assess the CURE Scholars’ basic knowledge of infectious diseases. After completing the pre-quiz, the 30 to 35 students in attendance were divided into groups and assigned to one of five stations, with all groups having the opportunity to rotate through each station.

All activities were led by student pharmacists from the School of Pharmacy and included:

  • First station: Led by Sumit Gandotra, this station introduced students to bacteria on agar medium, which helped them visualize the appearance of microorganisms and differentiate them based on color, colony morphology, and smell.
  • Second station: Led by second-year student pharmacist and CURE Scholars coordinator Alexis Zalewski, this station explored the topic of disease transmission. Students were given cups of water, unaware that one cup was filled with a “contaminated” solution that would turn pink when phenolphthalein — a harmless indicator often used in acid-base titrations, turning the sample pink when added to a basic solution or remaining colorless in an acidic solution — was added to the water. When students exchanged their samples and added the indicator to their cups, the person who received the basic solution (causing the water to take on a pink hue) was deemed to have a “contaminated” water sample.
  • Third station: Led by Andrew Wherley, this station assessed students’ hand-washing technique using germ glow lotion. Students applied the lotion to their hands and were encouraged to touch different surfaces, including tables and doorknobs, on their way to the restroom to wash their hands. Using a black light, the students were able verify whether they had adequately removed the “germs” from their skin and could observe how the “germs” were left behind on the surfaces they touched before washing their hands. This activity helped to reinforce the importance of hand hygiene.
  • Fourth station: Led by third-year student pharmacists and CID outreach coordinators Soeun Park and Lila Portman, this station introduced the concept of herd immunity. Students played a card game that instructed them to randomly draw a card from the deck. In the first round, the cards indicated whether a student was a “sick” or “non-vaccinated, healthy” person. The “sick” person was able to transmit his or her “disease” to the other healthy, non-vaccinated individuals. In the second round, the cards included “sick,” “vaccinated-healthy,” and “non-vaccinated healthy” individuals. Students who selected the “vaccinated-healthy” cards were able to stop the disease transmission, illustrating how individuals who are vaccinated can protect not only themselves but also others who are not vaccinated.
  • Fifth station: Led by second-year student pharmacist and CID shadowing coordinator Jordan Sachs, this station taught students about antibiotic resistance. Students learned that resistance to an antibiotic can be developed — among other causes — when patients do not complete an antibiotic course as prescribed.

To conclude the event, third-year student pharmacist and CID webmaster Waleed Khan administered a post-test to evaluate how much students learned from our activities.

Learning from the Learners

The CURE-ID events teach us, as student pharmacists and future health care providers, the importance of tailoring our communication styles to our target audience. Once we enter our profession, we will be conversing with people who span every level of the educational spectrum. However, regardless of a patient’s level of education, it is vital that our patients understand the information we convey. Working hands-on with middle-schoolers through the CURE Scholars Program presented a valuable lesson in this matter. We learned the importance of talking to the students in the same manner that we would address our adult patients, not using overly complicated terms to help keep their attention and remaining calm. These skills will be invaluable throughout our careers as pharmacists, especially when we recommend therapies to doctors, advocate for our profession to lawmakers, and, most important, when counseling our own patients.

Looking Toward the Future

The future of CID looks bright. We plan to expand our educational offerings to older adults in the near future through a new partnership with FutureCare, a nursing home and rehabilitation center in Baltimore’s Charles Village. Through this collaboration, we hope to educate the community and raise awareness about myriad topics, including:

  • Diabetic foot care
  • Hepatitis C
  • Vaccination
  • Tuberculosis
  • Hand washing, with emphasis on the prevention of difficile, a bacterium linked to a wide range of gastrointestinal issues, including diarrhea and life-threatening inflammation of the colon.

Furthermore, we plan to collaborate with the Student Section of the Maryland Public Health Association (SMdPHA) to host an event focused on tuberculosis education specifically for refugees. Pharmacists have made great strides in implementing infectious disease prevention programs in health care practice, and we hope to continue this momentum moving forward through CID.

— Sumit Gandotra, Waleed Khan, Andrew Wherley, and Rachel Rowland

 

  
Sumit Gandotra Community Service, Education, University Life, USGAJanuary 5, 20180 comments
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Choosing the Right Health Services Research Graduate Program

All health services research graduate programs aim to provide students with the theory, practical experience, and decision-making skills needed to address a wide range of health services-related problems affecting the world. However, because this field can encompass many different areas of interest, choosing the graduate program that will help you achieve your unique professional and personal goals can be challenging.

As the graduate program coordinator for the Department of Pharmaceutical Health Services Research (PHSR) at the School of Pharmacy, I have assisted dozens of students in navigating the options available for graduate education in this dynamic field. Based on those experiences, I have come up with five tips from which I think all prospective students can benefit. It is my hope that these tips not only help you choose the advanced degree program in health services research that is right for you, but that they also help you learn more about yourself and the type of research you are interested in pursuing.

Tip No. 1: Understand Your (Research) Options

Health services research is a broad term used to describe research that examines how people gain access to health care, how much that care costs, and what happens to those individuals as a result of the care received. It incorporates elements from a number of disciplines, including pharmacy, medicine, geography, public health, public policy, economics, epidemiology, and biostatistics — just to name a few. To determine which health services research graduate program is right for you, you will need to identify which area of health services research you would like to pursue and choose a program that offers specialization in that area. The Department of Pharmaceutical Health Services Research at the School of Pharmacy offers an MS in PHSR and a PhD in PHSR that offer students the opportunity to specialize in four areas:

  • Comparative Effectiveness and Patient-Centered Outcomes Research: Research that compares different health care and treatment approaches to help patients and providers make more informed decisions.
  • Pharmaceutical Policy: Research that examines local, state, and national policies governing the development, provision, and use of medications within a health care system.
  • Pharmacoeconomics: Research that examines the trade-offs in health outcomes and costs associated with the use of therapies, devices, and adherence programs.
  • Pharmacoepidemiology: Research that analyzes the prevalence and use of pharmaceuticals in large populations as well as the health outcomes associated with medication utilization.

Tip No. 2: Location, Location, Location!

Unlike your experience as an undergraduate, which likely focused on the time that you spent in the classroom, pursuing a graduate education will present you with numerous opportunities to establish a professional network outside of the classroom through research collaborations, internships, and conferences. The location of the college or university at which you complete your advanced degree will play an important role in determining the types of professional experiences available to you. Choose a program housed within a college or university that is located in close proximity to other institutions that can help you build your professional network and advance your career after graduation.

The School of Pharmacy is one of six professional schools (dentistry, law, medicine, nursing, and social work are the others) and a graduate school located at the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB), a thriving center for life sciences research and community service. We are located in the fourth-largest biotechnology hub in the United States, a short drive away from prestigious institutions such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Food and Drug Administration. Many students in our MS in PHSR and PhD in PHSR programs engage in research collaborations and pursue internships with these institutions.

Tip No. 3: Follow the Funding

The amount of available financial assistance is an important consideration for any prospective graduate student when selecting the program to which he or she would like to apply. One of the reasons that the PhD in PHSR program at the School of Pharmacy remains so competitive is that we are able to offer students accepted into our program fully funded financial support, including a stipend of $25,000. When added to tuition remission, health insurance, and student fees, the total amount of support provided to each student is worth about $38,000 per year. Our students also continuously receive competitive fellowships and awards from organizations such as the American Foundation for Pharmaceutical Education and the NIH to help offset other costs that they might incur during their time in the program.

Tip No. 4: Learn from the Best

To ensure your success as a future health services researcher, you want to learn from faculty who have established themselves as national and international leaders in the field. Students enrolled in our MS in PHSR and PhD in PHSR programs benefit from a highly collegial, complementary, and collaborative atmosphere, learning from more than a dozen faculty members who are recognized experts in the areas of comparative effectiveness and patient-centered outcomes research, pharmaceutical policy, pharmacoeconomics, and pharmacoepidemiology, and who have received millions of dollars in grants and contracts from some of the world’s leading health services research organizations.

Tip No. 5: Think About the Future

You won’t be a graduate student forever. The graduate program in which you enroll should begin preparing you to enter the field as a competent researcher from the first day you attend class. As you research available programs and meet with faculty and staff, be sure to ask about the careers that students have pursued after their time in the program. Graduates of the PhD in PHSR program at the School of Pharmacy have obtained highly competitive positions in universities, pharmaceutical companies, and government agencies across the country.

Ready to Take the Next Step?

If you have done your research and are confident that the MS in PHSR or PhD in PHSR program at the School of Pharmacy is the perfect fit for you, I encourage you to begin the application process by visiting the program’s website. The deadline to submit your application for the PhD in PHSR program is Jan. 3, 2018, while the deadline for the MS in PHSR program is April 1, 2018.

If you have questions, feel free to reach out directly via email to the PhD in PHSR or MS in PHSR program. Both programs welcome your questions and comments.

Colleen Day, PHSR graduate program coordinator

  
Colleen Day EducationDecember 1, 20170 comments
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Take a Study Break at USAD’s Charity Holiday Celebration

The United Students of African Descent (USAD) is hosting its Charity Holiday Celebration for UMB students to relax and take a break from studying on Monday, Dec. 4, at 5 p.m. in Room 351 of the SMC Campus Center.

Students will have the opportunity to decorate ornaments and bring in items for donation. Cookies, hot chocolate, coffee, fruit, and cupcakes will be provided, and a movie will be playing in the background.

  
Temitope Foleyson People, University LifeNovember 28, 20170 comments
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Pharmacist McPherson Named Visionary in Hospice and Palliative Medicine

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

  
Malissa Carroll Clinical Care, Education, People, UMB NewsNovember 22, 20170 comments
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AMCP Student Chapter Brings Home the Gold

The Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy (AMCP) presents its annual Chapter of the Year Award to three student chapters that have demonstrated the greatest innovation and commitment to establishing quality managed care programming for student pharmacists. The award highlights all of the programs and initiatives established by the winning chapters throughout the year, and the competition can be intense.

With dozens of student chapters vying for this coveted award, it was truly amazing — not to mention incredibly humbling — to hear our chapter announced as the first-place winner of the Chapter of the Year Award at the AMCP Nexus 2017 in Grapevine, Texas, in October.

Raising Awareness About Opportunities in Managed Care

The mission of our AMCP student chapter is to improve students’ understanding of concepts and career opportunities in managed care and industry. Our goal is to provide opportunities for students to gain exposure to the field by inviting speakers from managed care and industry to deliver presentations and meet with students at the School of Pharmacy. We also strive to develop and implement professional development events aimed at helping our members and other students in the school achieve their unique professional goals.

Building Sustainable Programming

Each year, our chapter strives to build on the initiatives put in place by the previous executive board and members to create sustainable programs for students. For instance, to help expose students to managed care concepts, we host a local Pharmacy & Therapeutics (P&T) Competition that allows participants to analyze the cost-effectiveness of new medications on the market, critically examine medication-related literature, and conduct comparative effectiveness research. The team selected as the winner of our competition then has the chance to enter its submission into the national P&T Competition hosted by AMCP.

In addition, to assist students with their professional development, we have implemented an Internship Prep Series (IPS) and Network Development Series (NDS). IPS supports students in their goal to obtain an internship by hosting CV/resume workshops and internship panels. IPS is open to students interested in all areas of pharmacy, including community and hospital. NDS represents the next step in professional development, providing students with the skills necessary to help them learn how to network. Later, students can implement the skills they have learned at our annual AMCP Managed Care, Industry, and Regulatory Affairs Roundtable, which introduces participants to the wide range of careers available in managed care pharmacy.

We also regularly invite speakers from industry and managed care to present to students about residency and fellowship opportunities in managed care, as well as potential career options. Our Seminar Series, made up of webinars, aims to provide in-depth information about career opportunities as well as the day-to-day life of a managed care or industry pharmacist. During each fall semester, we coordinate with fourth-year student pharmacists and current fellows, who also are alumni of the school, to host “PPS 101: Intro to Fellowship Applications.” Personnel Placement Service (PPS) is the application portal through which student pharmacists can apply for fellowships and set up interviews at the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) Midyear Meeting. The goal of this event is to educate students about what to expect during the fellowship application process and to provide steps they can take to enhance their competitiveness as an applicant based on the experience of previous fellows.

Expressing Our Gratitude

As with any notable achievement, this award is the result of the time and effort dedicated by numerous individuals. In addition to the hard work put forth by our members and executive board, we are grateful to the many alumni of the school who have taken time from their busy schedules to talk with students about the field and support our chapter in many other intangible ways. Without everyone’s hard work, this remarkable achievement would not have been possible.

– Yogitha Pazhani, chapter president and third-year student pharmacist

  
Yogitha Pazhani Education, University Life, USGANovember 10, 20170 comments
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Student Pharmacists Participate in National Drug Take-Back Initiative

Each year, student pharmacists from Generation Rx in the American Pharmacists Association-Academy of Student Pharmacists (APhA-ASP) at the School of Pharmacy partner with law enforcement officials to establish collection sites for the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) Drug Take-Back Day initiative. This national campaign offers members of the local community an opportunity to dispose of unwanted, unused, or expired medications that might otherwise have remained in the home, posing a great danger to families and the environment and potentially leading to the misuse or abuse of those drugs.

Cleaning Out Medicine Cabinets in Baltimore

Oct. 28 marked the 14th official Drug Take-Back Day sponsored by the DEA. To give community members more time to clean out their medicine cabinets, student pharmacists at the school’s Baltimore campus collaborated with the UMB Police Force to set up a collection site at the SMC Campus Center on Oct. 25 and 28. Faculty, staff, students, and members of the local community were invited to turn in their unused or expired medication for safe disposal.

In addition to collecting medications, student pharmacists staffing the collection site had an opportunity to educate the public about medication safety and how to properly dispose of medications at home. They explained how disposing of antibiotics down the toilet and/or other drain can increase the severity of antibiotic resistance, and how disposing of birth control pills in the trash or in the toilet and/or drain can negatively affect the aquatic environment.

At the conclusion of Drug Take-Back Day on Oct. 28, student pharmacists in Baltimore had successfully collected 46 pounds of expired and unused prescriptions and over-the-counter medications.

Serving the Community in Shady Grove

Given the growing opioid epidemic, a large, independent senior living community within walking distance from campus, and local pharmacies unable to accept unused and expired medications, the student pharmacists in Generation Rx at the School’s Shady Grove campus in Rockville also saw a need to provide a safe, convenient disposal site for the community.

Student pharmacists at Shady Grove assisted the Rockville City Police with an expansion of the national Drug Take-Back initiative by hosting a second Drug Take-Back Day at the Universities at Shady Grove on Oct. 26. For local community members unable to make it to the national Drug Take-Back Day on Oct. 28, this event provided another opportunity for safe disposal. In addition, students chose to host the event in Lot 5, which allowed community members to drive through and drop off medications with ease.

Local pharmacies that helped promote the event as well as the individuals who participated expressed their gratitude to us for hosting an event so close to home. Several students and members of the local community stopped by the event, resulting in the collection of 30 pounds of unused and expired medications — a 10-pound increase from Shady Grove’s first Drug Take-Back Day event in April 2017.

Increasing Our Impact in the Future

Though the Baltimore campus has hosted its Drug Take-Back Day event for several years and the Shady Grove campus is only beginning to test the waters with its initiative, student pharmacists at both campuses are excited to see how these events continue to grow and evolve in the future. We enjoy having this unique opportunity to apply the lessons that we learn in the classroom to help individuals across the state of Maryland understand the importance of safely disposing of their unused and expired medications, and to provide a convenient collection site for them to participate in this national event.

— Larissa Nguy and Payal Patel, third-year student pharmacists

  
Larissa Nguy Community Service, University Life, USGANovember 9, 20171 comment
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Muslim Students and Scholars Association Banquet Set for Nov. 10

The Muslim Students and Scholars Association (MSSA) invites members of the UMB community to its Fall Banquet on Nov. 10.

The banquet will run from  6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the SMC Campus Center, Room 349.

This is the MSSA’s main event of the semester and will feature an engaging discussion followed by dinner. The topic of social media is very relevant today, and the discussion will focus on appropriate ways to incorporate social media while maintaining a professional and modest attitude.

The speaker for the night will be Brother Jose Acevedo, who has been a leader in youth development and education in the Washington, D.C./Baltimore metropolitan area for more than 15 years.

This event is open to everyone, so please spread the word!

  
Ghania Naeem People, University Life, USGANovember 3, 20170 comments
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Scholarship Awards Recognize Up-and-Coming Health Services Researchers

The Department of Pharmaceutical Health Services Research (PHSR) at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy hosted its Graduate Program Awards Presentation and Reception on Oct. 2 to present the Donald O. Fedder Memorial Fellowship, the Harris Zuckerman Scholarship Award, and the Arthur Schwartz Memorial Scholarship to eight exceptional students in its PhD in PHSR program. The event recognized students who received the awards in the 2015-2016, 2016-2017, and 2017-2018 academic years.

“These student awards were established by individuals or families who shared special relationships with the PhD in PHSR program at the School of Pharmacy,” said Francis Palumbo, PhD, JD, professor in PHSR and director of the program. “We present these awards to outstanding students each year as a way to share their legacies with future generations of health services researchers.”

Promoting Social Justice, Pharmacy Advocacy, and Public Health

Established by Michaeline Fedder in honor of her husband Donald Fedder, DrPH, MPH, BSP, FAPhA, a public health pharmacist and longtime faculty member at the School of Pharmacy who passed away in 2010, the Donald O. Fedder Memorial Fellowship supports the training and development of a graduate student whose work focuses on social justice, pharmacy advocacy, or public health. At the event, Elisabeth Oehrlein; Melissa Ross, PhD, who graduated from the PhD in PHSR program in May 2017; and O’Mareen Spence — the 2016, 2017, and 2018 recipients of the award, respectively — had an opportunity to share their journey in the program, as well as give an overview of their current research, with members of the audience.

“Since joining this program, my work engaging patients has shown me firsthand how the experience of receiving a serious or chronic diagnosis can affect patients,” said Oehrlein, who spoke about the parallels between her research in risk factors for stroke among patients diagnosed with atrial fibrillation and the research conducted by Fedder more than 20 years ago. “Working with claims data, it can be easy to forget that there is a real person behind every diagnosis code or outcome. So when you’re working with claims, please remember that every time you see a diagnosis code for stroke, atrial fibrillation, or any other disease area that you might work in, there is a real person behind that diagnosis whose life was forever changed as a result of it. That experience can be incredibly scary. I think remembering this can help us conduct the highest quality research.”

Becoming Clinician-Researchers

The Harris Zuckerman Scholarship Award was endowed by Ilene Harris, PharmD ’83, PhD, retired professor and chair of PHSR, to assist students interested in jointly pursuing Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) and PhD degrees. Named in honor of her parents — Daniel Harris, MD, and Ann Harris — the scholarship provides support for the training, development, and advancement of graduate students in the PhD in PHSR program. Students Aida Kuzucan, PharmD ’15; Anna Hung, PharmD ’14; and Joey Mattingly, PharmD, MBA, who also serves as an assistant professor in the Department of Pharmacy Practice and  Science (PPS), were recognized at the event as the 2016, 2017, and 2018 recipients of the award, respectively.

Accepting the award, Mattingly spoke about his experience as a teenager and young adult watching his grandmother, whom he affectionately referred to as “mammaw,” cope with multiple chronic illnesses, particularly the expenses that she and his grandfather incurred as a result of the medications she was prescribed. Although Mattingly explained that his grandmother passed away during his first year in pharmacy school, he noted that he plans to use the funds from the scholarship award to help support his research and “help mammaws around the world.”

Realizing a Lifelong Dream

As the first student admitted to the PhD in PHSR program, Arthur (Artie) Schwartz demonstrated great interest in drug use and pharmaceutical marketing issues. After his death at an early age, his wife, Karen Schwartz, established the Arthur Schwartz Memorial Scholarship to provide funding for future students in the program based on academic standing and financial need. Students Jan Sieluk, MPharm, and Aakash Gandhi were celebrated as the 2016 and 2018 recipients of the scholarship, respectively.

“When I was a little kid, my father traveled to Denver and bought a huge map of the United States,” recalled Sieluk, a native of Poland whose current research focuses on the costs associated with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) caused by alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, a genetic condition that can result in serious lung disease in adults or liver disease at any age. “That map ended up over my bed. I looked at it every morning when I woke up and every night before I went to bed. I knew that I needed to be part of this country. After graduating from the Medical University of Warsaw, I reached out to C. Daniel Mullins, PhD, professor and chair of PHSR. I thank him for bringing me here, nominating me for this award, and helping to make my American dream come true. I will be forever indebted to him.”

Palumbo, accompanied by each student’s mentor, presented the recipients with their awards.

“Our department is humbled by the generous support of the Fedder, Harris, and Schwartz families, whose gifts help to alleviate the financial challenges that our students must often overcome in the pursuit of their education,” Palumbo said. “The students recognized today have demonstrated remarkable drive and dedication in both their studies and research and are truly deserving of these distinguished awards. We look forward to all that they are sure to accomplish as they leave our program prepared to enter the dynamic field of health services research.”

Malissa Carroll

 

  
Malissa Carroll Education, People, UMB NewsNovember 1, 20170 comments
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Study Finds Link Between Antidepressants and Type 2 Diabetes in Youths

A team of researchers from the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy and the University of Maryland School of Medicine found that current (prolonged) use of serotonin reuptake inhibitors — a major class of antidepressant medications — in children and adolescents was associated with a nearly twofold increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes when compared to youths who formerly used (but eventually discontinued) those medications. Published in JAMA Pediatrics, this is the first population-based study that comprehensively examines pediatric patients’ risk of developing Type 2 diabetes after beginning treatment with an antidepressant.

“Antidepressants are one of the most commonly used psychotropic medication classes among youth in the United States, with serotonin reuptake inhibitors representing a majority of total antidepressant use in this population,” says Mehmet Burcu, PhD, a May 2017 graduate of the doctoral program housed within the Department of Pharmaceutical Health Services Research (PHSR) at the School of Pharmacy, who led the study for his dissertation. “These findings provide new information on the risk of a rare but serious adverse outcome that is often difficult to assess in clinical trials due to limited sample size and inadequate follow-up.”

According to Burcu and his team, there has been a marked increase in the percentage of children and adolescents in the United States who use antidepressants over the past two decades — from 1.5 percent in 1996-1998 to 2.6 percent in 2010-2012. This increase has been largely driven by a rise in the number of antidepressants prescribed by pediatricians and other primary care providers. Although a number of studies have demonstrated a link between antidepressant use and risk for Type 2 diabetes in adults, evidence of a similar risk among children and adolescents remains limited.

For their study, Burcu and his team analyzed Medicaid administrative claim files for nearly 120,000 children and adolescents between the ages 5 of and 20 from California, Florida, Illinois, and New Jersey, who initiated treatment with an antidepressant between Jan. 1, 2005, and Dec. 31, 2009, for conditions such as depressive disorder, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, and anxiety disorders. Medications that patients were prescribed included serotonin reuptake inhibitors, tricyclic or other cyclic antidepressants, and other antidepressants.

The team applied rigorous design and statistical approaches to compare incident cases of diabetes in current antidepressant users to former users, rather than non-users (children and adolescents who were never prescribed an antidepressant). “This approach represented a methodological strength of our study, as the comparison of current users to non-users could potentially lead to biased estimates due to several factors, such as confounding by indication and medical care utilization intensity bias,” Burcu says.

In its analysis, the team uncovered 233 incident cases of Type 2 diabetes, of which 156 occurred during current use and 77 occurred during former use of antidepressants, demonstrating that current use of antidepressants in children and adolescents was associated with a twofold increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

In addition, within current users, the team assessed the risk of incident diabetes according to duration of use, cumulative dose, and average daily dose. This secondary analysis showed that the risk for children and adolescents who were prescribed serotonin reuptake inhibitors further intensified with an increasing duration of use (long-term use), cumulative dose, and average daily dose.

“The increased risk of Type 2 diabetes following prolonged use of serotonin reuptake inhibitor antidepressants in youth is clearly supported by these findings, with the data showing a greater effect on those youths who were prescribed the medications over longer durations and at higher doses,” says Daniel J. Safer, MD, associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and adjunct professor at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, who has practiced for more than 40 years in the field of child psychiatry and is a co-author of the study. “We know that long-term use of these antidepressants is not without risk, and further research on outcomes, especially for current, long-term users, is warranted to assure a favorable benefit-risk balance for patients.”

“I am proud of Dr. Burcu’s ability to use the most sophisticated methods available to address the question of whether antidepressant use in children elevates their risk for developing Type 2 diabetes,” adds Julie Zito, BSPharm, PhD, professor in PHSR, who served as Burcu’s advisor and is a co-author on the study. “The nested cohort approach that he employed offers a fair comparison of those children who are currently using an antidepressant versus those children who previously used an antidepressant. It helps reduces bias in the research, which is often a challenge with safety studies such as this.”

Burcu and his colleagues hope their study paves the way for further research on the biological mechanisms underlying the relationship between antidepressant use and increased risk for Type 2 diabetes in children and adolescents, noting that their results can be used to spur policy development to improve patient monitoring and ensure these medications are used safely and effectively.

  
Malissa Carroll Research, UMB NewsOctober 23, 20170 comments
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Engaging Hepatitis C Patients to Improve Research Methods

When I joined the School of Pharmacy in 2014, my primary focus was on teaching pharmacy management and developing research skills in the area of economic evaluation. As a faculty member in the Department of Pharmacy Practice and Science (PPS), I enrolled in the PhD in Pharmaceutical Health Services Research (PHSR) program at the school to become a pharmacoeconomist and build cost-effectiveness studies. However, I enrolled into the program at a time when the culture in research was beginning to shift, primarily because of extraordinary PHSR professors who knew that researchers could do a much better job systematically including the patient voice in our work.

Evaluating cost-effectiveness of hepatitis C treatments

Like any other graduate student, I dove into the literature around the new treatments for the hepatitis C virus (HCV). With help from Julia Slejko, PhD, assistant professor in PHSR, and C. Daniel Mullins, PhD, professor and chair of PHSR, I developed my first cost-effectiveness study for HCV treatments, but I fell into the trap of focusing on traditional methods that did not include patients.1 Although it was good experience for me to gain while learning this field, I knew there was much more to do.

Engaging patients to improve methods

After submitting my economic model, I spoke informally with Susan dosReis, BSPharm, PhD, and Eleanor Perfetto, PhD, MS, both professors in PHSR, about the lack of patient input in all of the HCV cost-effectiveness studies that I had reviewed. Without hesitation, Perfetto smiled and said, “There is your next paper.” So, we went to work. We systematically reviewed economic studies for HCV treatments and found that the inclusion of the patient voice has been limited in this area, to say the least.2

Submission to PCORI: It takes a village

One of the key lessons that I’ve learned over the past year is that most good research proposals require a team effort, and all researchers are influenced by the company they keep. With several faculty in the department having success with their contract submissions to the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) – facilitated, in part, by the creation of the PATIENTS Program – a culture of authentic, patient-centered research has weaved throughout the school.

I recently had an opportunity to become the director of operations with the PATIENTS team, where I learned firsthand what it meant to “continuously engage” patients in every step of the research process.3 The natural progression for me was to submit a Pipeline to Proposal (P2P) Tier A award to PCORI, which would fund the work necessary to build relationships with patients in the West Baltimore community where the School of Pharmacy is located. I pitched an idea to leverage the Community Engagement Center at the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) to work with underserved patients as advisors to our research to Shyamasundaran Kottilil, MD, PhD, professor of medicine and renowned HCV clinician and researcher at the School of Medicine’s Institute of Human Virology (IHV). He immediately came on board.

With the support of Kottilil; Ashley Valis, executive director for strategic initiatives and community engagement at UMB; and Mullins, as director of the PATIENTS Program, our proposal was created and, fortunately, won over the reviewers at PCORI.

Now the real work begins

In our P2P, we aim to engage underserved HCV patients to inform and improve comparative effectiveness research for HCV interventions. We also plan to develop a blog that will target patients and researchers to disseminate our work in a way that is meaningful to both audiences. We want to bring patients, clinicians, and researchers to the same table to discuss research questions related to HCV treatment that matter most to patients. This multi-stakeholder approach will help us develop another research proposal that might be of interest to funding agencies such as PCORI, the National Institutes of Health, or the Food and Drug Administration. We’re excited to get started and can’t wait to see how the results of our work might impact future studies.

Joey Mattingly, PharmD, MBA, assistant professor in PPS and PHSR graduate student

References

1 Mattingly TJ, Slejko JF, Mullins CD. Hepatitis C Treatment Regimens Are Cost-Effective: But Compared With What? Ann Pharmacother. 2017; online: July 1, 2017. doi:10.1177/1060028017722007.

2 Mattingly TJ, Perfetto EM, Johnson S. Engaging hepatitis C infected patients in cost-effectiveness analyses: A literature review. Hepatology. August 2017. doi:10.1002/hep.29482.

3 Mullins CD, Abdulhalim AM, Lavallee DC. Continuous Patient Engagement in Comparative Effectiveness Research. JAMA. 2012;307(15):1587-1588.

  
Joey Mattingly ResearchOctober 18, 20170 comments
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ATRIUM Patient Safety Continuing Education Webinar on Nov. 8

The ATRIUM Cardiology Collaborative at the School of Pharmacy will be holding its fall continuing education program Nov. 8. The session will be delivered in a live webinar format, and participants will have two opportunities to join  — from noon to 1 p.m. or from 7 to 8 p.m.

The featured topic will be “Cardiology Mythbusters: Volume 1” presented by Brent Reed, PharmD, BCPS-AQ Cardiology, FAHA, associate professor of pharmacy practice and science and director of postgraduate Year 2 cardiology residency training at the School Pharmacy.

The purpose of this program is to educate pharmacists on four myths so they might address them in their practice and optimize medication therapy used to treat common cardiovascular disorders. This application-based educational activity is designed for pharmacists practicing in all settings and will count as patient safety continuing education credit.

The registration fee is $15. To register for this program, go to the Eventbrite website. For any questions, send an email to atrium@rx.umaryland.edu.

  
Erin Merino Education, PeopleOctober 17, 20170 comments
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School of Pharmacy Welcomes Students

To help prepare incoming students for the academic year, the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy hosted new student orientation Sept. 6 for members of its Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) Class of 2021 as well as first-year graduate students in its PhD in Pharmaceutical Sciences (PSC) and PhD in Pharmaceutical Health Services Research (PHSR) programs.

Activities in the PharmD program began Aug. 16, introducing students to the school and setting expectations for the next four years. Students in the PSC program had the opportunity to attend presentations that showcased the wide range of research conducted in the department, and students in the PHSR program attended informative sessions that outlined expectations for coursework, teaching assistant roles, and research rotations.

Watch this video to see highlights from this exciting time.

 

 

  
Malissa Carroll Education, UMB News, University LifeSeptember 12, 20170 comments
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Pharmaceutical Sciences Takes Center Stage for University’s CURE Scholars

Local middle school students gain hands-on experience conducting fun-filled science experiments under supervision of faculty at the School of Pharmacy.

Students from the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) CURE Scholars Program visited the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy throughout the month of July to gain hands-on experience conducting research in the field of pharmaceutical sciences. The visits were organized by Lisa Jones, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences (PSC) at the School of Pharmacy, as part of her $1.1 million CAREER Award from the National Science Foundation, which supports her ongoing work to develop a new method to study the structure of cell membrane proteins in the cellular environment.

“One of the key components of the CAREER Award is that the awardee not only conducts his or her own research, but also creates an education plan aimed at fostering the development of young researchers,” says Jones. “I was thrilled to have an opportunity to collaborate with the UMB CURE Scholars Program for my education plan, and offer local middle school students a chance to conduct hands-on research in a laboratory setting at the School. I hope their time with us helped them uncover a love of science as well as a desire to pursue a career in science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM).”

Training the Next Generation of STEM Leaders

Established in 2015, the UMB CURE Scholars Program prepares middle and high school students in Baltimore for competitive, lucrative, and rewarding research and health care careers at UMB and other health institutions in the region. The program is a partnership with three public schools in West Baltimore – Franklin Square Elementary and Middle School, Green Street Academy, and Southwest Baltimore Charter School – that provides career navigation, workforce training, and mentorship to underrepresented scholars at all stages or academic and career development.

More than 20 middle school students participating in the UMB CURE Scholars Programs visited the School of Pharmacy on July 6-7 and July 13-14, where they attended brief lectures and participated in hands-on experiments related to the lecture topics in one of the School’s state-of-the-art laboratories. Topics covered during the lectures included the role of DNA in cancer, the incidence of obesity in the United States, recombinant DNA technology, and protein-based drugs. In the lab, students had an opportunity to extract DNA from strawberries and kiwis, test calories in foods such as marshmallows and popcorn, and express and purify a protein in E. coli.

“Studies have indicated that middle school is the best time to capture students’ interest in STEM,” says Jones. “However, you will be hard-pressed to capture much interest by sitting students at a desk all day. The hands-on experiments that students conducted in our lab not only reinforced lessons from our lectures, but were also fun and gave them opportunities to engage with the material and learn from each other – opportunities that they might not have in a typical middle school science classroom.”

Bringing Lessons Learned Home

Students visiting the School on July 7 also had a chance to participate in a special activity hosted by Sarah Michel, PhD, professor in PSC. Inspired by the water crisis in Flint, Mich., Michel asked students to bring a sample of tap water from their homes to test for metal ions using inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) – the same method used by researchers who tested the water in Flint – in the School’s Mass Spectrometry Center. With assistance from a postdoctoral fellow and two summer interns in Michel’s laboratory, the students tested and analyzed the levels of toxic metals such as lead and cadmium, as well as non-toxic metals such as iron, zinc, and copper, in their water samples.

“Most individuals likely assume that drinking water in the U.S. is safe regardless of where one lives,” says Michel. “The Flint water crisis was an eye-opening experience for many of us, but I hope that it can serve as an example to these students of how science can help solve real life problems. The scientists who brought to light the drinking water crisis in Flint used their expertise in analytical chemistry to help uncover the lead contamination in the water and, as a result, the city, state, and country took notice. Scientists helped solve this big problem, and I want to inspire the CURE scholars to pursue science and solve other big problems.”

After speaking with students in the program, it appears that both Jones and Michel’s messages are resonating.

“Before I joined the UMB CURE Scholars Program, I thought science was mostly about reading books,” says Tyler McKinsey, a soon-to-be eighth grader at Green Street Academy. “Now, I understand that there are a lot of opportunities for me in science. I like working with my partners on the different projects and knowing that, if my ideas aren’t working, they will have other ideas that we can test, since we’re all contributing to the same project. I’m also looking forward to becoming a surgeon.”

  
Malissa Carroll Community Service, Education, UMB NewsJuly 28, 20170 comments
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moving grooving feature

The Anatomy of a Community Health Fair – Lessons Learned

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on Inside SOP, the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy’s blog. It is reprinted here with permission.

In the early hours of May 31, 2017, a team of faculty and students from the Peter Lamy Center on Drug Therapy and Aging at the School of Pharmacy arrived at Patterson Park in Baltimore to take part in the “Movin’ and Groovin’ for Good Health” health fair organized by the Baltimore City Department of Recreation and Parks. Each member of the team had a stethoscope and sphygmomanometer (blood pressure cuff) handy, and by 10 a.m., a long line of individuals waiting to receive a blood pressure assessment and speak with trusted members of the Lamy Center team had formed under the merciless sun.

With the formation of a second line, all visitors had an opportunity to engage in deep conversations with members of the team about the many challenges associated with living with their specific illnesses and the best way to optimize their use of medications. The event did not pass without several lessons learned:

Never Forget That the Challenges of Older Adults Residing in the Community are Very Real

While music, dancing, and a jolly atmosphere saturated the surroundings, many of the older adult participants took time from their day to talk with us about their prescribed medications; recent hospitalizations and diagnoses; falls; challenges of living with hypertension, heart failure, diabetes, overactive bladder, and depression; issues with polypharmacy; and medication adherence – to name a few. They were seeking answers!

Building Strong, Meaningful Relationships with Community Partners Was Never More Fun

After having her blood pressure assessed at our table, the division chief of the Special Populations Unit for the Baltimore City Department of Recreation and Parks, posed for a picture and later shared these kind words, “Thank you so much for bringing your pharmacy students to our fitness event yesterday in Patterson Park. What an enthusiastic and knowledgeable group of young people! The weather cooperated and the event was very successful. The participation of [The Peter Lamy Center at the] University of Maryland School of Pharmacy always adds greatly to our senior health education and promotion efforts and is greatly appreciated. I truly find it a pleasure to work with both you [Dr. Mansour] and Dr. Brandt. On behalf of Baltimore City Recreation and Parks, the Baltimore City Health Department, and Baltimore’s older adults, thank you again.”

To Have the Greatest Impact on the Health Education of the Community, Attend a Health Fair

Health fairs are a well-received intervention for community health programs, and their success can be traced back to 19th century county and state fairs. One will continue to learn many lessons about the needs of the communities and residents that they serve by attending these events – lessons that cannot be taught in a classroom or auditorium.

  
Daniel Mansour Clinical Care, Community ServiceJuly 24, 20170 comments
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