Pharmacy, VA Partner to Provide Innovative Care to Veterans in Alabama

Student and faculty member sit at computer Dr. Courtney Gamston (left) works with student Callie Seales, a member of HSOP’s Class of 2022.

AUBURN, Alabama – Embracing technology, students and faculty at the Harrison School of Pharmacy are fulfilling their commitment to care for those in Alabama and deliver accessible healthcare through the Population Health Clinic.

The clinic is a collaboration between the Auburn University Pharmaceutical Care Center, located within the Harrison School of Pharmacy, and the Tuscaloosa Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center. Pharmacy students working in the clinic review electronic health records to identify patients who would benefit from medication adjustments, immunizations or laboratory monitoring. After identifying these patients and reviewing with their preceptor, students contact them by telephone to discuss the findings from the record review.

Since August, students have placed more than 500 calls and reached more than 200 veterans, resulting in nearly 1,000 interventions. These interventions have included vaccine recommendations, referrals to other providers for additional medical/health care and orders for needed laboratory tests and medications.

HSOP has a long-standing relationship with the VA system in Alabama with students rotating at clinic sites and faculty members collaborating on outreach projects. Being familiar with the relationship, Dr. Garrett Aikens, a member of the HSOP Class of 2011 and the associate chief of pharmacy at the Tuscaloosa VA, reached out to discuss his telehealth program and identify opportunities for students to work with the veteran population.


RELATED: Read more from Dr. Garrett Aikens

“This experience is valuable because it allows students to connect what they learn in the classroom to the real world,” said Dr. Courtney Gamston, professor of experiential practice and a member of the HSOP Class of 2013. “They apply their knowledge in a slower-paced, more controlled environment early in the educational process. Doing so allows them to see the value of their education as well as how they can use that education to positively impact the health of their patients.”

Called the Population Health Clinic, it employs the practice of looking at a certain population as a whole and utilizing statistics and analytical data to identify ways of helping patients. After reviewing statistics, those in the clinic can develop strategies for intervention. Common areas analyzed could include vaccination rates, medication adherence, appropriate medication therapy, need for laboratory evaluation and many others. In the project with the VA, students are looking at patient care centered around cardiovascular disease risk reduction.


Students work at a row of computers Students utilize telehealth practices to connect with patients around the state.

While this experience provides a valuable learning opportunity for students, it also provides a service for a respected population that may not always have easy access to healthcare.

“Patients can live several hours away from the closest clinic location. Telephonic care improves patient access to health care and can also reduce the time they need to travel to and from the clinic for an appointment,” said Dr. Pamela Stamm, associate professor in the Department of Pharmacy Practice. “While we have these patients on the phone we can address other questions or concerns they may have. This program has also allowed us to connect with patients that have been out of care and are due for clinical appointments and/or labs and to get them linked back in with their care teams.”

Leaning on Auburn’s land-grant mission, the clinic embraces the opportunity to assist this population and improve their health outcomes.

“Working with the veteran population, students have gained perspective into the needs of this community and realized just how much care and attention its members need,” said Gamston. They have really enjoyed being able to be a part of bridging gaps in care and moving their patients towards improved health.”


----------

About the Harrison School of Pharmacy

Auburn University’s Harrison School of Pharmacy is ranked among the top 20 percent of all pharmacy schools in the United States, according to U.S. News & World Report. Fully accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE), the School offers doctoral degrees in pharmacy (Pharm.D.) and pharmaceutical sciences (Ph.D.) while also offering a master’s in pharmaceutical sciences. The School’s commitment to world-class scholarship and interdisciplinary research speaks to Auburn’s overarching Carnegie R1 designation that places Auburn among the top 100 doctoral research universities in the nation. For more information about the School, please call 334.844.8348 or visit http://pharmacy.auburn.edu.

Making Medications Work Through Innovative Research, Education and Patient Care

Last Updated: April 6, 2020