Pharmacy Professor Critical in Teaching New Health Care Approach

Updated on December 6, 2013

A shift is occurring in the health care industry, and it’s one that the Cedarville University School of Pharmacy has already begun to prepare students. As patients live longer, and as they need more medications, multidisciplinary health care teams are becoming more critical to patient care.

Such teams are typically made up of several medical professionals from a variety of disciplines. Teams might include nurse practitioners, physicians, physician assistants, pharmacists, dieticians and social workers. Trends in the health care industry show that multidisciplinary teams are helpful in improving patient outcomes.

“With the number of medications available today considered alongside the complexity of the human body, gone are the days when one physician could realistically care for the whole patient by themselves,” said Emily Laswell, Pharm.D., assistant professor of pharmacy practice. “Having a team with diverse sets of expertise helps to deal with this complexity.”

As more hospitals move to adopt the use of such multidisciplinary teams, the Cedarville University School of Pharmacy is already preparing for students to work in such environments. Laswell is a critical piece of this change, and her work in training students will occur both in the classroom and out.

Critical to both these is Laswell’s experience in this type of patient care. She currently practices as part of a multidisciplinary health care team at the Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton, Ohio. Her work there is helpful to students in practical ways as she brings back those experiences to the classroom.

“It’s much more beneficial to students if I teach them using an actual patient case versus a made-up scenario,” she said. “It’s so much more realistic to teach students using cases that have really happened, as they may see the same issues eventually in their own practice.”

Laswell’s experience is not only beneficial to students in the classroom; it will also be helpful to them as they experience this type of work for themselves. In their fourth professional year, students will work with Laswell and a multidisciplinary team in one of several rotations they will be required to complete in various areas of the pharmacy profession. While the school’s inaugural class is still more than a year away from this final clinical year, plans are already underway for them to receive this type of training.

“Once they come to my site, they’ll spend a month with me doing projects, presentations, answering daily drug information questions and going on rounds with me so they can see what that experience looks like,” she said. “It’s not only to help them learn, but also to help them to figure out where they want to go for the rest of their career. The rotation year helps them figure out, ‘What is it that I really want to do in pharmacy?’”

A 2010 study conducted by the University of Pennsylvania on the effects of multidisciplinary care teams on intensive care unit (ICU) mortality found that daily rounds by such a team are associated with lower mortality among ICU patients. Another study conducted by Duke University found that the addition of a clinical pharmacist as a member of a multidisciplinary heart failure team can improve outcomes in heart failure patients. A number of other factors also make this a natural transition.

With Laswell’s expertise, Cedarville’s pharmacy students are sure to be on the leading edge of those who look to work in multidisciplinary health care teams.

Laswell, who joined the Cedarville University School of Pharmacy in summer 2013, received her Pharm.D. from Ohio Northern University, where she also received a teaching certificate. She is also licensed by the Ohio Board of Pharmacy Registered Pharmacists.

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