College of Pharmacy

UNTHSC and TTUHSC Partner Up for Pharmacy Competition

Contributed by Haley Barnes, HSCCP Class of 2024

Despite virtual learning and a historic Texas snowstorm this last spring, UNTHSC and TTUHSC student pharmacists were dedicated to flexing their critical thinking skills in the 2021 Student Society of Health-System Pharmacists (SSHP) Leadership Challenge. The Leadership Challenge Competition is designed to help student pharmacists explore their roles as leaders in the healthcare field. It is typically hosted by the Texas Society of Health-System Pharmacists (TSHP). Unfortunately, the ‘20-21 academic year’s Challenge was postponed until 2022. In a critical moment in healthcare when pharmacists are at the forefront in leading COVID-19 immunizations, it was important to HSC College of Pharmacy and Jerry H. Hodge School of Pharmacy students to make this year’s Challenge happen.

“Organizing a local Leadership Challenge and keeping the authenticity of the annual TSHP competition while navigating remote learning proved to be a

Hope Shrader Sherman, HSC College of Pharmacy, P4

challenge,” reflected HSC College of Pharmacy Class of 2022 student and SSHP Professional Development Committee Chair, Hope Shrader Sherman. “But the SSHP executive committees at TTUHSC & UNTHSC were eager to help.”

Under Sherman’s leadership, the Professional Development Committee took advantage of the asynchronous nature of the ‘20-21 academic year. Typically, each campus will host an individual live competition and will send one group to represent their respective program in the TSHP state-wide Challenge. Without the live nature of the 2021 competition, UNTHSC SSHP partnered with TTUHSC SSHP to design a two-month long, asynchronous challenge from February 22nd through April 9th.

Thanks to Challenge prompt author, Dr. Jennifer Fix of UNTHSC, student teams discussed how to increase patient acceptance of phone- or telepharmacy-based medication therapy management services in the health-system pharmacy setting during a pandemic. By March 31st, 16 teams submitted business plan outlines, SWOT analyses, and presentation recordings arguing their best idea on how to implement this service in the new environment of healthcare.

“It was a pleasure collaborating with UNTHSC in our local SSHP Leadership Challenge! It was so much fun and rewarding to review the submissions full of creative ideas that students were able to generate,” shares Sze Yi Kong, a TTUHSC Class of 2021 student pharmacist and SSHP Student Liaison of the TTUHSC-Dallas campus. “I’m looking forward to collaborating with UNTHSC again next year!”

“We had a diverse set of teams sign up, who each approached the case from a unique perspective. Overall, it was a great opportunity to collaborate with our peers from another college of pharmacy and allow students to practice skills essential to pharmacy practice,” seconded Sherman.

UNTHSC and TTUHSC SSHP congratulate the following Top 3 teams:

  • 1st place: Kate Ball, Matthew Gehrlein, & Mahsa Helforoush (TTUHSC)
  • 2nd place: Thao Aparicio, Haley Barnes, Traci Presley, & Alexis Zamora (UNTHSC)
  • 3rd place: Ramsha Akhtar, Megan Bareis, Vivian Ho & Parker Lenheiser (TTUHSC)

UNTHSC and TTUHSC SSHP also thank our judges: Drs. Ashley Selby, Celine Zhong, and Eric MacLaughlin of Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center; Dr. Phu Trinh of University of North Texas Health Science Center; Dr. Randy Martin, Texas Society of Health-Systems Pharmacist. SSHP Leadership Challenge Planning Committee: Chair Hope Shrader Sherman; Student Liaison Sze Yi Kong; Members Haley Barnes, Erin Hust, Angel Nguyenly, Bri Palumbo, and Thara Vadakedom.

College of Pharmacy

Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Meenakshi Ramanathan

Meenakshi R. Ramanathan, Pharm.D., BCPS, BCIDP

Assistant Professor, Department of Pharmacotherapy

Infectious Diseases Pharmacist, Medical City ArlingtonRamanathan

What is the most rewarding aspect of being an Infectious Diseases Pharmacist?

The most rewarding aspect of being an Infectious Diseases Pharmacist is being able to find the right regimen (right drug, right dose, right route of administration, right frequency, right duration of therapy) for the patient in the hopes of curing the infection and preventing further relapse. On a day-to-day basis, it is exciting to make life-changing recommendations that will help get the patient home sooner to their family from the hospital.

What is unique about ID pharmacy?

In ID pharmacy, each patient case is a puzzle or mystery. The ID pharmacist must place the puzzle pieces together as related to the patient specifics, disease state, pathogens, and antimicrobials. It is exhilarating to see the big picture when you’re done. The added component of learning the pathogens can definitely throw a curveball to students, but each pathogen is unique in its own way, as are the antimicrobials.

Antimicrobials are life-saving medications, but they do come with their consequences, like side effects, increased drug resistance if misused, and can be costly. Making sure that we use our antimicrobials appropriately ensures that we reduce resistance and save our antimicrobials for when they are absolutely necessary. For instance, many upper respiratory tract infections are viral in nature, so an antibiotic is not necessary in that situation (e.g., cold, influenza, etc.).

College of Pharmacy

Pharmacy students reflect on a year of change and growth during the pandemic

By Arnessa Blanks

It has been over a year since COVID-19 affected communities across the country. This past year has been filled with wearing masks, following social distancing guidelines, and developing vaccines in record time. Today, healthcare students and providers continue to help in the fight against COVID-19.

Student pharmacists at The University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth have been doing their part. They are serving their communities in many ways while also staying on top of their studies to finish their rotations and coursework this semester.

Payton Simpson At Hsc Health
Payton Simpson administers the COVID-19 vaccination at HSC Health.

“I believe if we have the opportunity to serve, we should help whenever and wherever we are needed,” said Payton Simpson, a second-year HSC student pharmacist.

Sanjida Hoque, Payton Simpson and Mayela Warner are a few of the many students who are working diligently to ensure that patients are safe and well-informed during this pandemic.

Adapting to Constant Change

Fourth-year student pharmacist, Sanjida Hoque, was wrapping up her final year in the classroom when COVID-19 hit. With a new virtual learning environment, she became more organized with her study schedule to minimize distractions. She quickly grew familiar with the unknown and learned how to be effective.

Sanjida faced other obstacles such as maintaining her well-being and work-life balance due to the lack of social interactions that are normally in place.

“There were many celebratory moments I wanted to share in the presence of friends and family, but I had to forgo those moments or turn to virtual events instead,” she said.

Early on during her first rotation at a retail pharmacy, Sanjida experienced their quick adjustments to operating during a pandemic. For the first time since learning how to properly wear PPE, she was putting it into practice while providing curbside counseling.

“Patient interactions were limited and distanced,” she recalled. “Patients are one of our best teachers, so this change definitely made an impact on my number of learning opportunities.”

Sanjida plans to join a community or telehealth pharmacy after graduating this May.

“Five years of community pharmacy and a year of rotations have confirmed that I love playing a recurring role in the health journeys of many patients,” she said.

Standing on the Frontlines

It has been a few months since Payton Simpson began working with Tarrant County Public Health to help slow the spread of COVID-19. She has conducted contact tracing, scheduled COVID-19 tests and manned the COVID-19 hotline during her experience.

Payton has been active on the frontlines vaccinating HSC faculty and staff at the on-campus HSC Health clinic health clinic as well as retirement communities.

“Seeing the pandemic come full circle, from speaking with people who were greatly affected by COVID-19 to now being able to vaccinate our most vulnerable, has been extremely rewarding,” she said.

As the New Student Orientation leader, Payton was one of the first students to return to campus during the pandemic. She distributed take-home pharmacy lab kits and white coats to first-year students in a drive-through event last summer to help them kick off their year of remote learning.

Encouraging the Community

Mayela Warner, a third-year student pharmacist and pharmacy intern, has been working diligently to administer COVID-19 vaccines to the community while giving them tips on how to remain healthy during the pandemic.

“Though vaccines, viruses, and illnesses are common and make sense in my world as a pharmacy student, I had to realize this is something not every person fully understands,” she said.

It is important to Mayela to make patients feel comfortable when they are asking questions and voicing concerns about the vaccine before they schedule an appointment.

“COVID-19 has shown us just how vital pharmacists are in the healthcare field,” she said. “I truly appreciate listening to what our professors are teaching us about the virus and then being able to explain what I am learning to my patients, co-workers, friends and family.”

 

 

College of Pharmacy

Student Spotlight – Kaitlyn Bradley

Name/Class: Kaitlyn Bradley, HSC College of Pharmacy, Class of 2021 

Hometown: Arlington, Texas Kaitlyn Photo

Kaitlyn has been pharmacy intern at a local CVS pharmacy for the past three years. When she started pharmacy school, she quickly learned how beneficial hands-on experience was to succeed in the classroom. Kaitlyn has recently accepted a job offer with CVS pharmacy to begin upon graduation. 

How has COVID-19 affected your position in the pharmacy? 

COVID-19 has caused the pharmacy to be much busier than usual. I have just additionally started helping administer COVID vaccines. 

What is the most rewarding part of your position? 

Since many patients have been out of jobs during the pandemic, the most rewarding part of my job is when I can help them save money on their prescriptions. I try to help in any way possible 

What has this experience taught you about being a pharmacist? 

This experience has taught me to be an advocate for my patients. Now, I am not afraid to call the doctors for more affordable alternatives or suggestions that may fit the patient’s needs. I am here to make sure my patients are able to get what they need. 

College of Pharmacy

Student Spotlight – Katy Muilenburg

Name/Class: Katy Muilenburg, HSC College of Pharmacy, Class of 2021 White Coat

Hometown: Houston, Texas 

Nothing could prepare you more for working in emergency medicine than training during a pandemic. Katy has received a unique opportunity to experience this firsthand during her APPE rotations. She plans to work as an Emergency Medicine Clinical Specialist after completing a PGY1 and PGY2 residency 

How has COVID-19 affected your position in the pharmacy? 

My favorite rotation, Emergency Medicine, was cancelled at first, and then it was switched to a later block because of the rise in COVID-19 cases. In the community setting, I am now administering COVID-19 tests all day instead of the usual intern or technician duties. 

What is the most rewarding part of your position? 

It is fascinating getting to be in the middle of a novel illness and seeing the development of therapies for it. Being on APPE rotations gives the unique experience of seeing the similarities and differences in how different healthcare settings deal with and are affected by COVID-19. 

What has this experience taught you about being a pharmacist? 

Now more than ever, it is crucial to stay as up to date with the current facts and myths about the virus, vaccines, and therapies. As healthcare workers, we are often the first source of information that friends and family go to in times of need. 

College of Pharmacy

Student Spotlight – Abriana Palumbo

Name/Class: Abriana Palumbo, HSC College of Pharmacy, Class of 2023 Abriana Palumbo Photo

Hometown: Bedford, TX 

Abriana Palumbo is a pharmacy technician at a hospital where she is helping administer COVID-19 vaccines. After gaining over four years of hospital experience, she has decided to take the clinical pharmacy route after completing the PharmD program. She is excited to learn more in upcoming rotations the next few years that will help her select a specialty.  

How has COVID-19 affected your position in the pharmacy? 

My position has changed from being a normal technician to also picking up shifts to prepare vaccines at our hospital. We have been dealing with new schedules and determining how many doses need to be drawn and when.  

What is the most rewarding part of your position? 

The most rewarding part of my job is seeing people’s sighs of relief and excitement when they receive their vaccine. 

What has this experience taught you about being a pharmacist? 

This experience has taught me that being a pharmacist is more than the typical everyday pharmacist job. There is much more behind the scenes like coming up with procedures for vaccine clinics and staying on top of scheduling. It has allowed me to learn more about reading literature and following medications through trials. 

College of Pharmacy

Student Spotlight – Noreen Ohye

Name/Class: Noreen Ohye, HSC College of Pharmacy, Class of 2023 Headshot

Hometown: Fort Worth, Texas

Noreen has a drive for helping animals in need and has her eye on a career as a veterinary compounding pharmacistWorking for the Safeway system since 2014, she was promoted to an intern after her first year of pharmacy school. 

How has COVID-19 affected your position in the pharmacy? 

Due to COVID-19, my patients are asking more questions about the virus and the vaccination. I feel like because of this, I can educate my patients on their medications and current events. 

What is the most rewarding part of your position? 

Building a relationship with my patients is the most rewarding part of working at my pharmacy. I have been there for over two years and some patients I have not seen in half a year due to school, but they will see me and ask if I have gotten a haircut (which I did!) or how school is going. I love my patients and I am glad to be a part of their lives. 

What has this experience taught you about being a pharmacist? 

I have learned that education does not stop at the end of pharmacy school. Learning is an ongoing process especially in the world of pharmacy due toVaccination new research or the release of new drugs. There is always something new that we can learn about. 

What drew you to pharmacy school in Fort Worth? 

grew up in Fort Worth and I chose HSC because of the volunteer work that happens within the community. From Mercy Clinic to Colorful World Foundation, HSC always gives back to the community, and I am proud to be part of the HSC pharmacy program. 

College of Pharmacy

Five Tips to Manage Diabetes

According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney disease, about 34.2 million Americans have diabetes and more than 84 percent of Americans are living with prediabetes without knowing it. 

Pharmacists help patients with diabetes by providing customized plans, individual counseling, and prescribed medications. Here are five tips from HSC College of Pharmacy and HSC Health Clinical Pharmacists Dr. Adenike Atanda and Dr. Megan Wesling on how to manage diabetes: 

  • Set specific and attainable goals that work toward your personal health goals. It is not always JUST about the sugars. Look for balance in your well-being. 
  • Define your goals and share them with your healthcare team to help define your personal care plan.  
  • Nutrition and physical activity are key components of comprehensive diabetes management. Work with your healthcare team to develop a lifestyle plan that caters to your needs.  
  • Contact your healthcare team if you experience frequent episodes of low blood sugar. Your team can evaluate your medication regimen and lifestyle to determine if they need to make adjustments. Frequent or severe low blood sugar levels can lead to negative health outcomes and affect your quality of life.   
  • Medications prescribed for the management of diabetes come in various formulations, devices and dosing schedules. Inform your healthcare team if you are having difficulty affording your medications or taking them as prescribed.   

Check out these patient resources with more information on how to live a healthy lifestyle while managing diabetes: 

 

About Dr. Atanda and Dr. Wesling 

Adenike Atanda, PharmD, BCACP, CDCES, CTTSatanda

Dr. Adenike Atanda is a board-certified ambulatory care pharmacist and certified diabetes care and education specialist with practice experience in adult and geriatric care. She is passionate about chronic disease management and improving patient access to affordable and quality care. She is an assistant professor at HSC College of Pharmacy and a clinical pharmacist at HSC Health Geriatric Medicine clinic. 

Megan Wesling, PharmD, BCPS, BCACP Megan Wesling

Dr. Megan Wesling is a board-certified ambulatory care and pharmacotherapy pharmacist with practice experience in primary adult care. She is passionate about safe and effective medication management of chronic health conditions, interprofessional practice, pharmacy advocacy and clinical education. She is an assistant professor at HSC College of Pharmacy and a clinical pharmacist at HSC Health Family Medicine clinic. 

College of Pharmacy

Student Spotlight – Andre Castaneda

Name/Class: Andre Castaneda, HSC College of Pharmacy, Class of 2022 Andre Castaneda

Hometown: Keller, TX 

Andre Castaneda, a third-year student pharmacist, has a passion for helping children. As a pharmacy intern at Cook Children’s pediatric hospital, he discusses treatment plans with families and counsels them at discharge. His mentor, Dr. Hae Jin Cho, shares his passion for pediatric pharmacy and helped him discover this internship opportunity. Andre, Rho Chi Fraternity President, hopes to become residency trained and a BPS Board Certified Pediatric Pharmacy Specialist (BCPPS). 

How has COVID-19 affected your position in the pharmacy? 

The pandemic has certainly affected the way I interact with patients, their families, and other healthcare professionals. Although some of my tasks still require face-to-face communication, such as discussing treatment and counseling families at discharge, I take proper precautions with personal protective equipment to increase safety. Everyone on our pharmacy team has really risen to the challenge to prevent the spread of COVID-19 while still providing great care to our children. 

What is the most rewarding part of your position? Andre Castaneda

The most rewarding part about being an intern at Cook Children’s Medical Center is experiencing how all of our healthcare professionsincluding pharmacists, physicians, nursing, and many others, work together to help our patients. I also get to learn from the most amazing and talented team of pharmacists, and I have grown tremendously as a clinician because of them. They have shown me how pharmacists can play an extremely valuable role on any healthcare team, while also teaching me about pediatric pharmacy along the way. 

What has this experience taught you about being a pharmacist?

This experience has taught me that pharmacists play a vital role in almost every aspect of patient care. I have the opportunity to work with a variety of pharmacists in different roles, which has opened my eyes to all of the career options we have as future pharmacists. Also, being able to apply what I have learned in the classroom to real-life patients has been instrumental for me in truly understanding the medications. 

College of Pharmacy

Student Spotlight – Mayela Warner

Name/Class: Mayela Warner, HSC College of Pharmacy, Class of 2022 Mayela Warner Whitcoat

Hometown: Dublin, Texas 

Mayela is a pharmacy intern in a retail setting and a pharmacy technician in an in-patient and out-patient environment. She was motivated by upperclassmen to get this current position at a local hospital and works alongside three of her classmates. Her professional goal is to complete a PGY1 and PGY2 Residency in the DFW area and then work in Ambulatory Care Pharmacy. 

How has COVID-19 affected your position in the pharmacy? 

COVID-19 has made work busier. Right now, we are at the frontline giving COVID-19 immunizations to patients or trying to get them signed up for the opportunity to do so. We are also trying our hardest to make sure our patients get the best care with all the setbacks of the pandemic. This means sending out more medications via delivery or answering any questions they may have about the virus or the vaccine. 

What is the most rewarding part of your position? 

The most rewarding part of my position is the ability to help others. I am honored to be trusted by patients to answer any questions they may have about their medications, vaccinations, disease states, etc., and then to be able to safely administer their vaccines and provide them with their medications.  

What has this experience taught you about being a pharmacist? 

COVID-19 has shown us just how vital pharmacists are in the healthcare field. This has made my educational experiences worth it even more. I truly appreciate the ability to read journal articles on the literature and listen to what our professors are teaching us about the virus and then be able to explain what I am learning to my patients, co-workers, friends, and family.