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LEARNING & LEADING

HANDS ON UH Pharmacy students are part of a new standard of care, practicing alongside medical students. BY LISA MERKL

There’s No Place Like Home

“The experience was eyeopening and inspiring. Our elderly patient had suffered from aspiration pneumonia while eating and was hospitalized. He went from walking and having minimal dementia to rapidly declining cognitive function and not being able to walk after his hospital visit. We saw the toll on the body from being bedridden for so long and how difficult it would be to get him on his feet again. We learned that the health goals for the elderly, especially during such an ordeal, are completely different when you are visiting them at home. Activities of daily living, or ADLs, such as being able to walk, dress and eat on your own, are just as important as controlling one’s blood pressure or blood sugar. When we see patients in the hospital, they seem to be just another number, but when we were invited into the home of this family, we were surrounded by family pictures and the reality of the situation. It was definitely an amazing experience that I will never forget.” These are the words of Lydia Matar Solis, a University of Houston (UH) doctoral student in the College of Pharmacy, describing her experiences during one of her field visits as an intern in the “No Place Like Home” program, which is one of several Longitudinal Ambulatory Clinical Experience (LACE) course tracks. This initiative pairs UH pharmacy students with medical students from Baylor College of Medicine (BCM), under the supervision of physicians and nurse practitioners, to deliver in-home ambulatory care services to Houstonarea geriatric patients who are predominantly homebound due to mobility limitations typically resulting in multiple chronic conditions. By interacting with a patient in their home environment, the interprofessional team is able to observe aspects of a patient’s normal routine and make adjustments to the care plan or suggest changes in

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behavioral practices that might not otherwise be apparent from just a visit to a clinic or pharmacy. Bringing all aspects of the patient—life, home, family—in to view allows these future physicians and pharmacists to see the entire picture of a patient firsthand, which is invaluable to making appropriate evaluations for a care plan. It gives students the opportunity to look behind the curtain to see the real aspects of patient life outside of a clinical setting. Solis joins a new generation of students who are learning under the Interprofessional Education (IPE) model of instruction. This relatively new way of teaching up-and-coming medical professionals focuses on better integrating and coordinating the education of nurses, physicians, dentists, pharmacists, public health professionals and other members of the patient health care team to provide more collaborative, team-based and patient-centered care. These shared learning experiences among students across a variety of health disciplines have been shown to improve health outcomes. Leading agencies, such as the World Health Organization, have recognized IPE as an effective way to enhance the preparation of the health care workforce and improve care delivery. Following the pilot stage of the “No Place Like Home” LACE initiative, UH and BCM expanded the program to more than 40 pharmacy and medical students from each institution. Eventually, the program partners plan to offer the experience to all third-year BCM medical and UH pharmacy students, as well as incorporating pharmacy faculty. “The goal is not only to improve communication between patients and medical professionals, but also to give students from different health care professions an opportunity to gain an appreciation of the

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University of Houston Magazine Spring 2016  

University of Houston Magazine Spring 2016