Last spring, when I took over as the new president of Palm Beach Atlantic University’s SSHP Chapter, I began my address by asking my fellow student colleagues how many of them had heard of the Pharmacy Practice Model Initiative (PPMI). Less than ten of the seventy students present raised their hand. I immediately decided that one of my goals would be to not only ensure that every single one of us could raise our hand by the end of my term, but also that each one of us could attest to having been an integral part of moving health-system pharmacy at least one step closer to fulfilling the objectives of the PPMI.
To accomplish this, I planned to emulate the Pharm.D. Curriculum sequence (didactic to experiential), that trains us to become a pharmacist. I began by inviting a local pharmacy leader to provide a strong didactic presentation of the PPMI objectives, and subsequently asked students to apply what they had learned in a health-system pharmacy practice setting. Naturally, not all students were ready to participate. This did not surprise me, because pharmacy practice experiences are typically observational and do not mandate active participation, nor do they require that we take on responsibility for a patients’ care. While the presentation motivated and excited the students about the PPMI, the call to action was soon forgotten. Upon reflecting on the fact that the students were unwilling to act, I perceived myself as failing to achieve my objective. I was discouraged and ready to settle with having simply delivered the didactic information, until I remembered the words of Mr. Toby Clark in Leading healers to exceed, when he said, “The greatest leadership sin is to remain passive in the face of challenges.” Challenge accepted.
I proposed a project that would utilize pharmacy practice interns to complete the PPMI Hospital Self-Assessment (HSA) worksheet at a local hospital. I began by contacting the chair of the PPMI Task Force for our state affiliate, the Florida Society of Health System Pharmacists (FSHP), to determine which hospitals had not yet completed the HSA in the State of Florida. I informed her of my objective and she proceeded to forward to me a tabulated list, which included the details of both the hospitals that had completed the HSA, and those that had not. I identified hospitals in my area that had not yet completed the HSA, particularly the sites where our College of Pharmacy had an existing affiliation. I emailed one of the Directors of Pharmacy of a nearby hospital, and inquired if she would allow me to assist her in completing the HSA. We both happened to be attending the FSHP Annual Summer Meeting and agreed to meet in person. We discussed my interest in the PPMI and she agreed to have me visit her pharmacy periodically to assist her with completing the HSA worksheet.
Completing the HSA worksheet for a hospital is an excellent learning experience, as it allows the student to objectively establish where the hospital stands in relation to the PPMI recommendations for pharmacy practice. A supplementary activity to this program involves administering a survey to assess the perception of the pharmacy staff, regarding their motivation to adhere to the PPMI recommendations. This provides the student with an opportunity to deliver an in-service that addresses misconceptions and instills self-motivation in the pharmacy staff, by communicating the positive impact moving forward will have on hospital and patient outcomes, as well as their individual professional development. Once the student has completed the HSA worksheet, they should work together with pharmacy management to review the results, identify the key gaps, and create a prioritized action list. Finally, the student leader should identify PPMI tools and resources, like the State Affiliate Tool Kit (http://www.ashp.org/PPMI/Resources/State-Affiliate-Tool-Kit), to support the change they wish to implement.
Students must remain motivated, be innovative and step up to take the lead in implementing change. If we can learn how to analyze a practice model and identify the areas that need improvement, then we create innovative positions for pharmacists to make interventions that improve patient outcomes, reduce readmission rates and help save hospitals money. As long as the student demonstrates cost reduction and quality improvement through pharmacy services, hospital administrators will want more pharmacy students, residents and practitioners. And last but certainly not least, we will be recognized as non-physician providers, because by making these efforts student leaders can eliminate the culture that says we are not.
Special thanks to Dr. Alissa Fuller, Clinical Manager of Pharmacy Services at Holy Cross Hospital for working with me to complete my first PPMI Hospital Self Assessment; Dr. Vanessa Price-Goodnow, Chair of the FSHP PPMI Task Force, for supporting the state-wide implementation of this pharmacy student-led PPMI project; and, ASHP and the ASHP Research and Education Foundation for selecting me as one of the 2013-2014 recipients of the ASHP Student Leadership Award.