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How a Traineeship Can Directly Affect Patient Care

As pharmacists continue to become more directly involved in patient care, health systems are on the lookout for pharmacists with the knowledge and skills to work in various pharmacy specialties. The ASHP Foundation’s traineeship programs give pharmacists the opportunity to find their passion, advance their careers and pharmacy practice, and most importantly make a difference in patient outcomes. That’s exactly what it did for Ms. Angela House, R.Ph., BCPS. 

She entered the program hoping it would help her become the resident expert on palliative care at Northside Pharmacy to help other pharmacists on her team feel more comfortable in this particular area. Although she didn’t know what to expect from the traineeship, there was one thing that surprised Ms. House from the very beginning. “I had no idea how much time we would spend seeing actual patients. The very first day, we jumped in her car, and she took us straight to a clinic where we immediately saw patients. It was actually in one of those patient rooms where I realized that this is what I want to do,” she recalls. 

The strategies Ms. House learned during the traineeship did more than reveal her calling; they’ve also had a direct impact on how she cares for her patients. In one particular case, Ms. House recalls using something specific she learned in the traineeship that helped improve a patient’s quality of life. “I had one patient that had terrible stomatitis and he was not responding to any treatment that the hospice tried. This gentleman’s goal was to be able to eat, and he couldn’t eat because of his sore mouth. Then I remembered reading something during the training, a little blurb about using ketamine mouth rinse.” Since the team had tried everything else, Ms. House shared the product formula and ordered it for the patient.  “When I asked how his mouth was doing, the nurse’s eyes just lit up. She said he was finally able to chew and swallow food without pain. He was super glad to be able to eat again. It was a great learning experience for all of us, and it’s something I learned at the traineeship.” 

The program also gave Ms. House the confidence to continue her education and evolve. “I definitely feel like a more complete clinician, a more complete pharmacist,” she says. “I returned from the traineeship not only with valuable information but also with a desire to change my career path. I began to research ways to add to the basic education I was so eager to rush through to completion all those years ago. Now I’m getting a master’s degree in palliative care at the University of Maryland.” 

“This traineeship is the thing to do if you want to make yourself stand out.” Ms. House began to pursue pharmacy positions that were strictly hospice focused. She also earned her board certification in pharmacotherapy and accepted a clinical position with a division of United Health, Optum Hospice Pharmacy Services, an organization with a long history of providing clinical consulting services for hospice clients all over the country.