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Students Develop Strengths, Strategies with Leader Site Initiative

The Fisch College of Pharmacy established a pilot program focused on both student success and patient care. With the Leader Site Initiative, the College aims to enhance student experiential education while improving patient outcomes in East Texas.

Select practice sites, called Leader Sites, have been working with the College to build new patient care programs that support student learning. Officials strategically developed the Leader Site Initiative for layered learning. The program engages P2, P3 and P4 students in direct patient care activities based on their current knowledge and skillset.

“Collaborating closely with our Leader Sites to develop new patient care programs provides the unique opportunity to address needs of the patients, students and hospital alike,” said Dr. Pamella Ochoa, UT Tyler associate dean for experiential education.

UT Health East Texas–Athens became UT Tyler’s first Leader Site. Director of pharmacy Katha Lawyer said the new Inpatient Medication Counseling program is working as envisioned. Hospital scores have improved for patients who received counseling on medications obtained while hospitalized as well as their side effects. Preliminary data shows increases of 15 and 20 percent, respectively.

“It is our duty as pharmacists to build relationships with both patients and other health care providers and to help provide a positive patient experience,” Lawyer said. “UT Tyler’s program also facilitates a positive learning environment for students. They are exposed to real-world practices and develop the needed personal skills to become successful.”

UT Tyler P3 student Nathan Schauer of Mabank is one of those students who was involved in Inpatient Medication Counseling during the program’s first year. Schauer said the program helped evolve his patient care skills.

“I like to describe the program to other students as the professors and preceptors pushing us out of the nest,” Schauer said. “At traditional rotation sites, you have a pharmacist with you at all times. As part of UT Tyler’s program in Athens, you don’t have that safety net feeling. You’re out there in a real hospital interacting with real patients.” 

An aspiring hospital pharmacist, he enjoyed the challenge of working with patients firsthand.

“While counseling patients, it’s always a joy to see the light bulb go off when they understand why they’re on a mediation their doctor put them on with little explanation,” said Schauer, who will graduate in Spring 2021. “I’m an introvert at heart, and I can say this program has brought me out of my shell and boosted my confidence.” 

The 2021 class secretary, Schauer is a member of the UT Tyler Student National Pharmaceutical Association, Student Societies of Health–System Pharmacy and Texas Pharmacist Association.

In addition to the Athens location, UT Tyler currently partners with two other Leader Site hospitals in East Texas. For more information, contact Ochoa, pochoa@uttyler.edu.

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UT Tyler