USF Health Pharmacy students join clinical staff at BRIDGE Clinic

Patients are likely to benefit the most from the added expertise of USF Health College of Pharmacy students to the USF Health BRIDGE Healthcare Clinic staff.

Pharmacy students recently joined the clinical team at the BRIDGE Clinic, a student-run free clinic in the USF Health Morsani Center for Advanced Healthcare, and will provide prescription medication counseling, side effect and drug and food interaction counseling, patient education on disease states, as well as various pharmaceutical consultation services.

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The BRIDGE Healthcare Clinic provides a health facility for underserved patients living near USF.  BRIDGE stands for Building Relationships and Initiatives Dedicated to Gaining Equality, and is staffed by USF students from medicine, physical therapy, social work, public health, and now pharmacy, alongside faculty mentors and advisors.

Pharmacy’s connection to BRIDGE is a natural fit, said Kevin B. Sneed, PharmD, dean of the USF Health College of Pharmacy.

“BRIDGE is the epitome of a shared-values organization that benefits the community and the students while reinforcing the teaching efforts of the faculty,” Dr. Sneed said. “This has resulted in a nationally-recognized interprofessional model of care the emphasizes USF Health’s commitment to creating health communities. BRIDGE is a great investment of time and resources for everyone involved, and is an enormous source of pride for USF and the entire  Tampa community.”

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In addition to improving the care for patients, including pharmacy students helps better mirror the team settings all students will likely work in once they graduate, said Grace Tidwell, a fourth-year medical student and a co-director of the BRIDGE Healthcare Clinic.

“We are so excited to now have pharmacy students as part of our interdisciplinary team at the student-run BRIDGE Healthcare Clinic,” Tidwell said. “As the newest addition to our clinic, the pharmacy team furthers our goal of preparing students for collaboration in their future careers by exposing them to what each discipline can offer and providing them with the opportunity to work side by side to provide comprehensive patient care. Pharmacy provides invaluable services to the BRIDGE patients, who have no other means to access health services.”

There has always been a pharmacy director on hand during clinic hours, but the addition of pharmacy students to the clinical team helps provide a more realistic clinical environment and a chance for the students to use what they are learning in the classroom, said Shafaat Pirani, a third-year pharmacy student.

“It’s a great way to integrate what we’re learning in class and to apply our knowledge,” Pirani said. “It’s the first true clinical opportunity for pharmacy students to interact with patients and to start practicing the skills we’ve learned. And we all work under licensed pharmacists from the VA, the community, and our very own College of Pharmacy faculty, who are volunteering their time at BRIDGE, as well, so we have additional mentoring opportunities.”

Pirani helped establish the Pharmacy’s role at BRIDGE, and is a founding co-director for the College of Pharmacy students at BRIDGE, along with Kayla Mackanin and Theresa Trindade.

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Pirani said the experience will mean that, when he graduates in 2015 from the USF College of Pharmacy, he will be better prepared for the changing healthcare landscape.

“Healthcare is rapidly changing from a fee for service system to a value based system, where patient outcomes are closely scrutinized,” Pirani said. “This means that pharmacists will have more clinical interaction with the patient and work alongside other healthcare providers to improve patient outcomes. The future of medicine will model that of a patient-centered medical home, where at the least, a physician, a nurse, a physical therapist and a pharmacist, all there to collaborate to care for one patient, ensuring continuity of care.”

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Story by Sarah A. Worth, photos by Eric Younghans, USF Health Office of Communications