Blog post

Rural Texas VA Hosts Post-Graduate Pharmacist Program

As our national health care system strives to educate and fill critical health care positions across the country, West Texas VA in Big Spring, Texas is constantly hiring well-trained pharmacists for its health care system. rural health. It does this by hosting a first-year postgraduate pharmacist program funded by the Office of Academic Affiliations.

Hosting two residents each year, West Texas VA’s Pharmacy Postgraduate Residency Program, now in its sixth year, has been a great success. Much of this success can be attributed to clinical pharmacist and residency program manager Tyson Kubena.

Pharmacy resident Jeny Buechel is part of a year-long residency program

“We have a unique program at Big Spring,” Kubena said. “Because we are VAs, we can practice at a level not common in private practice, which attracts many pharmacists and pharmacy students.”

Pharmacy residents selected for the one-year program in West Texas are exposed to and trained in more than pharmaceuticals and medication management. Kubena says they focus as much on interprofessional dialogue and communication skills as on clinical skills.

Trained in more roles than pharma

VA pharmacists serve in a variety of roles, including working with veterans in substance abuse treatment programs, the outpatient clinic, or their community living center. Kubena says communicating effectively in difficult situations is critical to achieving positive health care outcomes and is a skill that needs to be practiced.

“Our residents have the opportunity to work in mental health, primary care, addiction treatment and many other areas,” Kubena said. “We focus on developing the interpersonal skills needed to build positive relationships that are essential when working with a Veteran to develop a treatment plan that meets the Veteran’s health care goals.”

VA pharmacists have unique powers not often found in the commercial sector, such as prescription-writing privileges. Common practice in community health care is for a provider to diagnose a patient and write a patient prescription, which is then filled by the local pharmacist.

Pharmacy resident Andrea Feldkamp in residency program

In VA, pharmacists will often receive the doctor’s diagnosis. Then, given the patient’s medication history, will write and fill the prescription best suited to meet the patient’s healthcare goals.

“Having the power to prescribe is one of the reasons I chose to pursue a residency with VA,” says first-year pharmacy resident Andrea Feldkamp. “This authority removes a barrier to timely access to care, as we are able to apply our expertise without having to find time in a doctor’s busy schedule to enter the prescription.”

Feldkamp, ​​a graduate of Ohio State University, plans to stay with VA and pursue a career in mental health. She praises the training she received during clinical rotations at VA and then as a pharmacy resident.

She says the interprofessional dynamic, where the entire healthcare team works with the veteran to develop a healthcare plan, is professionally fulfilling, not what she would experience in the healthcare industry. pharmacy retail.

West Texas VA proudly serves veterans in 33 counties across 55,000 square miles of rural geography in West Texas and Eastern New Mexico. Over 56,000 veterans reside in our region, of which approximately 17,000 receive care here. On average, the health care system supports more than 170,000 outpatient appointments per year.