Collaborative Care: Pharmacy & Nursing
In long-term care pharmacy, we practice collaborative care with other healthcare professionals on a regular basis. It is apparent that for the continued success of health care and for the benefit of our patients, working as a team is essential. When each team member utilizes their area of expertise, the best possible patient care results. In long-term care pharmacy, pharmacists, pharmacy technicians and other members of the long-term care team work most closely with nurses and certified medication technicians or Level I Medication Aides, both in the skilled nursing and assisted living settings. This is generally done via phone calls, but in-person interaction is also common. In the pharmacy we greatly value the contributions of the nurses and strive to understand all their roles and responsibilities that are done for the care of the residents. We feel that when everyone is able to better understand the intricacies of all the people involved in the care of the patients/residents, the spirit of cooperation is magnified. This is collaborative care at its finest!
With that in mind, Corum Health Services was given an opportunity to host some nursing students in a BSN program to give them a picture of what long-term care pharmacy is; show them how we work closely with the nurses; and walk them through our various processes. Some of these tasks included: filling of medications into bubble-cards, prescription order entry, IV preparation, toting medications into delivery bins, controlled substance discussion, pharmacist initial/final medication review, medication regimen review, and providing COVID-19 vaccines to residents and staff at the nursing homes. Two of the students also got to see an in-service at one of the homes for the nursing staff, presented by our Director of Clinical Services (in-services and education are regularly provided by Corum). They were also given a patient case to evaluate and discuss with pharmacists, which focused on transition of care concerns and common errors seen during transfer from either home or hospital into the long-term care setting.
We truly enjoyed the opportunity to spend time with our health care partners. We learned a lot about their BSN program and how challenging it was, and in turn were able to show them the close collaborative care we share with their profession on a daily basis. At Corum we think it is essential to always host students, whether they are shadowing to learn more about pharmacy in general; spending 5 weeks with us as part of their professional clinical rotation year in pharmacy school; completing a 5 visit rotation focused specifically on transitions of care; or in this case, nursing students gaining a better understanding of long-term care pharmacy and the importance of working as a healthcare team.
We asked two of the nursing students we hosted to share their reflections and thoughts about spending a day at a long-term care pharmacy and what they learned about collaborative care. Following are the comments from Marki Burnett and Paris Cooper, nursing students in the BSN program.
For the past six weeks, a group of student nurses from the accelerated program at Goldfarb School of Nursing at Barnes Jewish College participated in clinical rotations with Delmar Gardens. For one of the rotations, students visited Corum Pharmacy in order to learn more about the services they provide as a “closed-door” pharmacy to fulfill the needs of the Delmar Gardens residents. This was a valuable experience as it gave us a greater insight into the day-to-day operations and challenges of the pharmacy, which fostered a more thorough understanding of the interdisciplinary care of a long-term resident. As student nurses, the bulk of our education has been focused on learning the role of a nurse. However, anyone who works in healthcare knows that patient care is a team effort, and each specialty is optimized by the cooperation of another. This experience provided a hands-on learning opportunity to see patient care through the lens of a pharmacist.
Corum Pharmacy designed a case study for the student nurses to review and reconcile a new admission’s discharge summary and their current medication list as it was entered in the Delmar Gardens system. In this case study, the student nurses were tasked with identifying any errors in dosages, frequency, or incomplete orders. This experience enabled the students to not only apply their critical thinking skills learned through nursing, but also allowed them to gain additional knowledge informed by the pharmacists’ perspective.
This exercise demonstrated the importance of the collaboration between nurses and pharmacists in order to optimize a therapeutic plan for patients. This symbiotic relationship can occur in any medical setting, from long-term care as seen at Delmar Gardens to acute care in the hospital. This opportunity showed us the value of opening the communication channels between nursing and pharmacy, and is something we will carry with us as we progress as nurses.
We thank all of the Corum Pharmacy family for generously providing their time, resources and energy in showing us the vital role they play as part of the interdisciplinary team. We now have a deeper appreciation for the interprofessional complexities of patient care, and this will allow us to be a better and more efficient part of that team as we enter the nursing field.
By Marki Burnett, BSN and Paris Cooper, BSN
Steve Hebel, RPh