A Story to Write Home About…
By Bryan Bullock, PharmD Candidate 2021
Wilkes University, Nesbitt School of Pharmacy
I think it is safe to say this past year has been one we will not forget. With a year that has been focused on COVID-19 and now vaccinations, we have not had the ability to host some of the community outreach projects that are so beneficial to our patients. And it has been amazing to help stop the spread of COVID-19 through our vaccination efforts. It has also been so rewarding to restart hosting our community screenings on a more regular basis and be reminded of all the other ways we, as community pharmacists, can help our patients!
It all began when a patient called to inquire if we still had our blood screenings. This sparked our decision to restart regular health screenings that week. The turnout we’ve had has been absolutely remarkable. In just a few hours each morning, we have been averaging over 20 patient encounters and assessments! While taking patients’ blood pressures, we have been able to counsel them on their medications, diet/lifestyle, and even intervene with their providers, as necessary.
It is amazing how many of these community outreach events take place at Flip the Pharmacy sites. My preceptor, Dr. Nicole Pezzino, was extremely supportive of the students interacting with patients. I think this is so important because we as community pharmacists have so much more to offer than just dispensing medications. We are arguably the easiest health care provider for patients to reach, and the gratitude of these patients makes it well worth it to host these events. The Weis Markets pharmacy she precepts at is also a Flip the Pharmacy location.
I’d like to share my favorite patient encounter from this experience. While taking this patient’s blood pressure, we were a little concerned, as he had readings as high as 168/90 mmHg. This patient had an outdated blood pressure cuff at home, so we recommended he bring it to our site to compare it to our manual readings. This patient returned to the pharmacy the following day, specifically asking that I take his blood pressure again. As a student this was an incredibly rewarding feeling! It is fulfilling to take the skills I learned in pharmacy school and be able to apply them in a real-life setting.
After two consecutive days of elevated readings, we contacted this patient’s physician and expressed our concern. The physician not only thanked us for reaching out but he was able to adjust the office schedule to get this patient in for a same day visit. The patient left the office with a prescription for a new blood pressure lowering agent, amlodipine 2.5 mg.
The following week, this patient returned to the pharmacy to have his blood pressure checked again. It was a rewarding experience to see this patient’s progression from day one to starting a new agent. We are thrilled to share that after starting this medication, we saw a decrease in this patient’s systolic blood pressure by over 20 mmHg! We educated the patient on additional lifestyle modifications. And established a follow-up plan with him!
The patient said, “I am so happy you guys offered to take my blood pressure because otherwise, I would have never known it was so high. I already feel a lot better! I was able to walk my dog today for the first time without feeling short of breath.”
This patient will be returning to his doctor’s office in 3 weeks to assess his therapy, and we were able to provide him with a blood pressure cuff to use at home in-between doctor visits. We educated him on how to properly use this cuff and provided him with a tracker to document his readings. This patient will continue to stop in regularly to have his blood pressure checked by future students. It is absolutely amazing how even one blood pressure reading can have such a positive impact on a patient’s life. These are the types of experiences that make me proud to work in a community pharmacy!