Official Newsjournal of the Illinois Council of Health-System Pharmacists

ICHP KeePosted

November 2021

Volume 47 Issue 4

Print Entire Issue

Gala Save the Date - March/April issue

KeePosted Info


Following the Path for Patient Care

History of Organized Hospital Pharmacy In Illinois: ICHP Is Formed

Practicing at the Top of Your Profession

ICHP Creates the Amy Lodolce Mentorship Award

It’s Kind of Like ICHP’s Rookie of the Year!


President's Message

Directly Speaking

The GAS from Springfield

Leadership Profile

Educational Affairs


College Connections

Lights, Camera, Pharmacy Action

Becoming the Change

Learning More about the Indian Health Service


Officers and Board of Directors

Welcome New Members!


KeePosted Info

Illinois Council of Health-System Pharmacists
4055 North Perryville Road
Loves Park, IL 61111-8653
Phone: (815) 227-9292
Fax: (815) 227-9294

Official Newsjournal of the Illinois Council of Health-System Pharmacists

Jacob Gettig

Jennifer Phillips

Scott Meyers

Trish Wegner

Amanda Wolff

ICHP Staff

Scott Meyers

Trish Wegner

Maggie Allen

Heidi Sunday


Jo Ann Haley

Jan Mark

Amanda Wolff

Jim Owen

ICHP Mission Statement
Advancing Excellence in the Practice of Pharmacy

ICHP Vision Statement
ICHP dedicates itself to achieving a vision of pharmacy practice where:
  • Pharmacists are universally recognized as health care professionals and essential providers of health care services.
  • Patients are aware of the training, skills, and abilities of a pharmacist and the fundamental role that pharmacists play in optimizing medication therapy.
  • Formally educated, appropriately trained, and PTCB certified pharmacy technicians manage the medication distribution process with appropriate pharmacist oversight.
  • Pharmacists improve patient care and medication safety through the development of effective public policies by interacting and collaborating with patients, other health care professionals and their respective professional societies, government agencies, employers and other concerned parties.
  • Evidence-based practices are used to achieve safe and effective medication therapies.
  • There are an adequate number of qualified pharmacy leaders within the pharmacy profession.
  • Pharmacists take primary responsibility for educating pharmacy technicians, pharmacy students, pharmacist peers, other health professionals, and patients about appropriate medication use.

KeePosted Vision
As an integral publication of the Illinois Council of Health-System Pharmacists, the KeePosted newsjournal will reflect its mission and goals. In conjunction with those goals, KeePosted will provide timely information that meets the changing professional and personal needs of Illinois pharmacists and technicians, and maintain high publication standards.

KeePosted is an official publication of, and is copyrighted by, the Illinois Council of Health-System Pharmacists (ICHP). KeePosted is published 10 times a year. ICHP members received KeePosted as a member benefit. All articles published herein represent the opinions of the authors and do not reflect the policy of the ICHP or the authors’ institutions unless specified. Advertising inquiries can be directed to ICHP office at the address listed above. Image disclaimer: The image used in the Pharmacy Tech Topics advertisement is the property of © 2013 Thinkstock, a division of Getty Images.
Copyright © 2013, Illinois Council of Health-System Pharmacists. All rights reserved.


Following the Path for Patient Care

by Trish Wegner, ICHP Vice President Professional Services

Spring Meeting ImageWhat is the mantra of each healthcare provider? It is to do what’s right for the patient. In pursuit of that vision and mantra, the Spring Meeting offered several educational sessions to assist the pharmacist, technician and student in learning how best to care for the patient and also develop personal standards of excellence in our drive for patient care excellence. Scott Knoer, keynote speaker and co-creator of the ASHP Manager’s Bootcamp, started his presentation with a powerful video from the Cleveland Clinic where he is the Chief Pharmacy Officer. The message of the video was, “If you could read their thoughts…would you treat them differently?” We must always strive to care for each patient equally with compassion and excellent service. View the video. But service to the patient is not where it stops. ICHP is celebrating its 50th Anniversary and has adopted the tag line of 50 years of Caring for Patients, the Profession and Each Other. As keynote, Knoer pointed out that leadership encompasses several  actions: respect the profession and the patients you serve, dedicate yourself to constant learning, embrace change, develop a vision for your practice, mentor and give back. We are all capable of these actions and should strive to achieve them.

A total of 249 pharmacy professionals attended the Spring Meeting – just one short of our goal – but still a record number. Attendees were able to participate in several CPE sessions including a review of new guidelines for Diabetes Management and Critical Care; 340B and manufacturer patient assistance programs; new drugs and uses; career opportunities; regulatory changes on the horizon; and so much more. Get a copy of the presentation handouts. New this year were the poster platform presentations. The top two poster submissions were selected to give presentations on their project. The first project presented by Mark Greg, centered around a generic medication voucher program which resulted in extensive cost savings. The second presentation by Andrew Merker, centered around optimal HIV treatment. Congratulations to Dr. Merker for winning the first ICHP platform presentation award! The poster session boasted 41 poster presentations from both Missouri and Illinois. ICHP winner in the Original Poster category was Craig Grzendzielweski from Presence Saint Joseph Medical Center; winner in the Encore Poster category was Ed Rainville from OSF Saint Francis Medical Center; and winner in the Student Poster category was Katelyn Daniels from SIUE School of Pharmacy. For more details, go to the Educational Affairs column of KeePosted. Congratulations to our winners! Be sure to submit a poster next year to showcase your work and to demonstrate all the wonderful projects within Illinois Pharmacy.

ICHP would like to thank all the exhibitors who took part in the Exhibit Program! The vendors really appreciated having the attendees thank them for their support. Without the support of our colleagues in industry, we would not be able to have this meeting without increasing the registration fee significantly – so we owe them a big round of applause! Many thanks to our Platinum Sponsor – Cardinal Health; and our Gold Sponsor –PharMEDium. Also many thanks to Novo Nordisk for providing an educational grant for the lunch symposium on Diabetes Management; and to Cardinal Health for providing a partial grant for the keynote presentation. Please thank all of those who supported our organization and be sure to spend time in the exhibit area at our next meeting so that they continue to exhibit and keep your registration fees down!

The Planning Committee for the Annual Meeting has already been working on the 50th Anniversary Meeting in September and is excited to offer three keynote presenters – one for each day. Be sure to put September 19-21st on your calendar to attend – it promises to be a very educational and fun filled meeting!

History of Organized Hospital Pharmacy In Illinois: ICHP Is Formed

Editor’s Note: Last month’s Keep Posted brought readers through the history of organized hospital pharmacy in Illinois through the early 1960s. in this issue, ICHP Historian Sister Mary Louise Degenhart reviews the critical first years of ICHP, when the organization’s foundation was carefully but concretely laid by the founders. Stay tuned next month for the next installment!

Of human life, Kierkegaard stated that “we live our lives forward, but we understand them backwards.” That concept can also be applied to organizational lives. Let us try to understand the Illinois Council of Hospital Pharmacists today by looking at where it came from and what it has accomplished in the past 25 years.


For 20 years, as chronicled by Elvera H. Dressler in last month’s Keep Posted, hospital pharmacy was organized in the Chicagoland area. To further the organization of hospital pharmacy within the state two recent graduates and friends from the St. Louis College of Pharmacy began planning for the southern part of the state. These two persons, Donald L. Brauer and Sister Mary Matthew Degenhart, called a planning session for April 1961. A small but dedicated group continued to meet and to write a Constitution and Bylaws, which were approved in December 1962.

Now with two ASHP affiliated chapters within the state there was a need for some coordination between the two groups and with other health-related organizations. A preliminary meeting was held between officers of the Southern Illinois Society of Hospital Pharmacists (SISHP) and the Illinois Society of Hospital Pharmacists (ISHP) in mid-May 1963. At that meeting no consensus was reached to move forward in forming a statewide hospital pharmacy organization.

In a letter dated September 19, 1963, Mr. F. Regis Kenna, President of the Illinois Society of Hospital Pharmacists, suggested to Mr. Donald L. Brauer, President of the Southern Illinois Society of Hospital Pharmacists, that the two groups meet somewhere in the center of the state on Thursday, October 10, 1963, to further discuss the issue of a statewide organization. The Lincoln State School, Lincoln, IL, was chosen as the site – it was as central by miles as possible. Representatives at that meeting were:
Mr. F. Regis Kenna
Mr. Ronald P. Betz
Mr. Herbert S. Carlin
Mr. Bernard T. Christopher
Mr. C. Charles Lev
Mrs. Kate M. Whitfield
Mr. Donald L. Brauer
Mr. O.L. Baker
Sister Mary Gracia
Sister Mary Philip
Sister Mary Matthew
Sister Mary Valeria for
Mr. Larry Barnett

Mr. Brauer and Mr. Kenna served as cochairmen with Sister Mary Matthew as secretary. As stated in the minutes for that meeting, “All unanimously agreed to form a statewide society for the purpose of coordinating the activities of the individual chapters within the state.” Some of the functions of this society would be:
  1. To elect a delegate to the ASHP House of Delegates
  2. To sponsor a joint meeting of the society and the IPhA
  3. To have legislative functions
  4. To form liaison with the Illinois Hospital Association and all other related statewide organizations
  5. To exercise financial control
  6. To delegate authority from the society to the chapters
  7. To publish a monthly newsletter.
A motion was made and carried to adopt the objectives of the ASHP plus the goal of unification. A draft of a constitution and bylaws, prepared by Mr. Kenna, was discussed by the group who decided to mail the same to members of the individual chapters. If the proposed constitution and bylaws were approved by membership, then the executive committees of each chapter would give final approval by mail.

The next meeting April 23, 1964, was held at St. John’s Hospital, Springfield, IL. This was more convenient for the delegates from ISHP as they could ride the train to Springfield and walk a few short blocks to the hotel. The southern contingency carpooled. Both groups strategized for the meeting en route! Most of the April meeting dealt with revising the proposed constitution and bylaws. Much discussion centered around the name for the organization, since the Illinois Society of Hospital Pharmacists was not acceptable to all persons from SISHP. “Members” was replaced with “delegates” and the determination was that there should be at least 10 delegates to the ISHP but not more than 20 and each chapter should have an equal number but no more than five each.

It was announced at the meeting that IHA would contribute up to $500 annually to ISHP and that this money could be used for publication of the newsletter. Illinois was entitled to five delegates to the ASHP House of Delegates, which were assigned as follows: SISHP – one, ISHP – two, Mid-West Sisters Association – one, and at large – one. (The Mid-West Sisters Association was another ASHP affiliated chapter that included only religious women.) At the conclusion of the meeting, “after a lengthy discussion it was individually agreed by a large majority of those present that the name of the State Society should be the Illinois Society of Hospital Pharmacists.” Mr. Don Brauer and Mrs. Kate Whitfield were asked respectively to be temporary chairman and secretary.

Official Approval
In a letter from Joseph Oddis of ASHP to Bernard Christopher, President of the Northern Illinois Society of Hospital Pharmacists, official approval of the constitution and bylaws of both ISHP and NISHP were approved with some recommendations. At the February 18, 1965, meeting the ASHP recommendations were incorporated into the constitution and bylaws, with the principal one being the change of “Society” to “Council” throughout the document. Officers were elected at that meeting as follows:
Chairman Donald L. Brauer
Vice-Chairman Bernard T. Christopher
Sister Mary Matthew Degenhart
Mrs. Kate M. Whitfield

Other items of business at that meeting included:
  1. ICHP delegates to the ASHP House of Delegates would be selected in proportion to the active membership of the chapters with at least one delegate from each chapter. ICHP delegates would be comprised as follows: NISHP – three, SISHP – one, and Mid-West Association of Sister Pharmacists – one.
  2. “A budget was drawn up for the remaining three months of the council year. It was moved and seconded that dues be two dollars per active member and payable to Mrs. Whitfield as soon as possible. Mr. Betz was directed to check into the incorporation fee. Sister Aloysius was asked to design the Official Certificate that each delegate to the council is to receive.”
  3. “It was suggested that the Northern Illinois Society of Hospital Pharmacists and the Southern Illinois Society of Hospital Pharmacists each withdraw its own affiliation with the Illinois Pharmaceutical Association and become affiliated under the name of the Illinois Council of Hospital Pharmacists.”
  4. “The possibility of having the spring seminar in conjunction with the Illinois Pharmaceutical Association Convention, May 23-25, is being checked.”
  5. The Midwest Association of Sister Pharmacists made formal application to become a member of ICHP.
The first seminar of the Illinois Council of Hospital Pharmacists was held at the Pere Marquette Hotel, Peoria, IL, on May 22, 1965, immediately before the IPhA Convention. A special meeting was called by Chairman Brauer following the seminar to discuss “Drug Services in Illinois Hospitals,” formulated by IHA’s Ad Hoc Committee on Hospital Pharmacy. This document had been voted on by mail ballot in early May; however, there was strong opposition to a mail vote, hence the special meeting. Following a lengthy discussion on the document it was approved by a five to four vote as written. Speakers at the seminar were Sister Clementia Jerome, Mr. Clifton J. Latiolais, and Mr. William Tester.

At the June 2, 1965, meeting at St. John’s Hospital, Springfield, IL, there were several significant agenda items:
  1. The Midwest Association of Sister Pharmacists’ affiliation request was reconsidered and tabled since affiliated chapters should be “local or regional group geographic in nature rather than special interest group.”
  2. Mr. Richard Strommen’s offer on behalf of IPhA to print the Illinois Hospital Pharmacist was accepted.
  3. The group voted to host one yearly seminar in conjunction with IPhA Annual Meeting and to support the Modern Pharmacy Series of the Illinois College of Pharmacy.
  4. IPhA offered office facilities adjacent to its own.
  5. An ad hoc committee was appointed to look into fiscal possibility of hiring an executive secretary.
  6. ICHP was invited by IPhA to establish exhibits at the May 22-24, 1966, convention. The Council accepted provided if after study there were no adverse findings and the Council has option of indefinite continuance of exhibits.
At the meeting on September 29, 1965, an ad hoc committee comprising Sister Mary Matthew Degenhart, chairperson, Sister Mary Aloysius, Mrs. Kate M. Whitfield, and Mr. Herbert S. Carlin was charged with studying the relationship of IPhA and ICHP as to the feasibility of establishing an office, files, and employment of full-time or part-time personnel at IPhA. The Council received a $500 grant from Roche to study statewide continuing educational programming for hospital pharmacists. A contest among pharmacy students was suggested with presentation of award at the annual meeting and subsequent publication of article in the Illinois Hospital Pharmacist.

The January 23, 1966, meeting minutes are the first to indicate any monies on hand: $282.37. It was also announced at that meeting that pharmacists would no longer be exempt from jury duty or the draft. ICHP had a phone listing at IPhA office. The annual seminar with a theme of “Packaging” had Mr. William Tester, Mr. William Heller, Mr. Robert Bogash, and Mr. F. Regis Kenna as speakers. The seminar was sponsored by Merck Sharpe & Dohme. Forms for incorporation of ICHP were signed at that meeting. The ICHP voted to establish the Illinois Hospital Pharmacist of the Year Award, giving it to Mr. F. Regis Kenna for that year.

Practicing at the Top of Your Profession

by Phil Burgess, RPh, Chairperson, Illinois State Board of Pharmacy

The title of this article may be somewhat of a new term to you, but I assure you that it will be a concept that you will become VERY familiar with in the coming years. The entire profession of pharmacy is going through what I would term a re-examination of itself and the role that pharmacists will play in the future. Will the practice of pharmacy be tied to dispensing a product, or will it evolve into an information profession working hand-in-hand with other health care professionals in a collaborative manner to address the growing demands that are being placed on those individuals struggling to provide quality health care to all members of our society?

A common misperception that I have heard from pharmacists in our State is that the Board of Pharmacy (and the associated Pharmacy Practice Act and Rules) limits pharmacists’ ability to fully apply their knowledge to impact the improvement of patient care, and therefore they are not able to practice at the “top of their profession”.

The Illinois Pharmacy Practice Act (85/3. Definitions (aa)) states that pharmacists can provide medication therapy management services. The definition section goes on to further describe what this term means in the Act:

"Medication therapy management services" may also include patient care functions authorized by a physician licensed to practice medicine in all its branches for his or her identified patient or groups of patients under specified conditions or limitations in a standing order from the physician.”

Basically, what is described in the Act is a protocol that a physician may establish with a pharmacist for that physician's own patient or a group of patients. The physician and pharmacist do not have an agreement per se; rather the physician provides instructions to the pharmacist for the physician's patients. Those instructions provide for a pharmacist, pursuant to those directions, to utilize his/her own professional judgment and skills in managing the patient's prescriptions. Therefore, pharmacists need to be pro-actively reaching out to prescribers to document these instructions and to establish these collaborative relationships.

As an example, those instructions from the physician to the pharmacist could include the management of a group of his/her patients on warfarin therapy and give that pharmacist the authority to modify the dosage of that medication again based on those instructions. Another example might be of a physician outlining instructions to a pharmacist to manage patients’ HIV/AIDS medications therapy based on his/her professional judgment. These types of relationships are already being developed among health care providers in Illinois, but in many cases it requires pharmacists stepping outside of their “comfort zone”.

The continuing implementation of the Affordable Care Act and the rapid expansion of Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) in our state will offer some unique opportunities for pharmacists to play an integral role as part of the health care team. The expansion of Medicare/Medicaid and the growing number of Baby Boomers only exacerbates the challenges ahead. Seize this opportunity and reach out!

And, as I’ve stated in earlier articles, always:
 “Make Patient Care Your Priority.”

ICHP Creates the Amy Lodolce Mentorship Award

Amy Lodolce was a University of Illinois at Chicago College of Pharmacy faculty member who touched the lives of pharmacy students, residents, and colleagues through her passion for teaching and the profession of pharmacy. Throughout her time at the college, Amy oversaw the training of four PGY2 drug information pharmacy residents, all of whom are currently drug information faculty at various institutions. She worked directly with numerous PGY1 residents and APPE students during their drug information rotations. She also served as a formal mentor to her student advisees, and was the advisor of the Phi Delta Chi pharmacy fraternity for many years. As the Assistant Director of the Drug Information Group, Amy served as an informal mentor to other faculty and was quick to help new faculty become oriented and situated.

Amy approached being a leader and a mentor with an “open door” policy, and would selflessly pause her work to address others’ needs. Students, residents, and faculty would ask her for guidance with career decisions and other professional concerns. Amy was respectful and nonjudgmental in her approach when assisting others whose goals and aspirations may have been different from her own. Her dedication was exemplary in that she worked tirelessly to provide residents and students with quality learning opportunities. She led and coached by example, consciously choosing behaviors that she hoped students and residents would emulate. Amy placed emphasis on professional organization involvement and giving back to the profession. On August 31st, 2012, Amy passed away after a long illness, and this award has been created in her memory.  Amy’s dedication and generosity to the profession of pharmacy have positively shaped many pharmacists’ careers, and the memory of her will continue to do so.

Nominations will be received through June 30th of each year at the ICHP office. Please read below for the award criteria, process and nomination instructions, and to download the nomination form.

Award Criteria:
  • The individual nominated to receive this award must be an ICHP pharmacist, associate or technician member in good standing;
  • The individual should be an exemplary preceptor, professor and/or mentor of students, residents, pharmacy technicians and/or new practitioners;
  • The individual should be a positive role model for pharmacists, pharmacy students and/or pharmacy technicians.

Award Process:

  • Each May, a call for nominations will appear in KeePosted.
  • The nomination form will be available on the ICHP website:
  • Nominations will be received through June 30th of each year at the ICHP office.
  • The ICHP Executive Committee will review all nominations and select the finalists.
  • The ICHP Board of Directors will select a recipient, should one be chosen.
  • The award winner will be notified prior to the ICHP Annual Meeting to ensure attendance, and the award will be presented during the awards banquet.
  • In the event that there are no suitable nominees for the award, an award will not be granted.

Award Nomination Instructions:
  • To nominate an individual, you must complete and submit the approved nomination form. Click here to download.
  • More than one person may complete a nomination form for an individual.
  • Send nominations to Scott Meyers at or the ICHP office by fax at 815-227-9294 or mail to 4055 N. Perryville Rd., Loves Park, IL 61111

It’s Kind of Like ICHP’s Rookie of the Year!
New Practitioner Leadership Award Nominees Sought

by Scott A. Meyers, Executive Vice President

The Illinois Council of Health-System Pharmacists established the New Practitioner Leadership Award to recognize an individual whose early accomplishments distinguish them as a future leader in the profession. The candidates should be individuals whose performance demonstrates a high degree of professionalism, leadership, and innovation.  Nominations may be submitted to the ICHP office through Wednesday, July 3, 2013 by an affiliate chapter or any two individual members of the ICHP.  If a nominee is selected to receive the award, it will be presented at the Annual Meeting.  Nominees should meet the following criteria:       
  1. Earned his/her first pharmacy degree within the last 10 years;
  2. Encourage and support ICHP by membership, meeting attendance, and participation*;
  3. Demonstrate a consistently high level of professional achievement;
  4. Has developed, is working in or is working towards the development of an innovative practice in health-system pharmacy practice;
  5. Exhibit strong leadership qualities; and
  6. Possess a strong commitment to the advancement of the pharmacy profession.
* Membership in ICHP and volunteer activity within ICHP’s divisions, committees or board of directors are absolute requirements to receive this award.

To apply or nominate someone for this award, please forward a detailed letter of recommendation identifying the specific accomplishments of the nominee with respect to each criterion above to ICHP, 4055 N Perryville Road, Loves Park, IL 61111-8653, or email to Nominations for 2013 are due Wednesday, July 3, 2013.

Selection of a recipient shall be by the ICHP Board of Directors via secret ballot.  The nominator may be requested to provide additional information to the ICHP Board of Directors to facilitate discussion and selection.  

Help us recognize one of tomorrow’s leaders and an outstanding new practitioner of today!


President's Message
Roses and Thorn Bushes

by Tom Westerkamp, ICHP President

“We can complain that a rose bush has thorns, or we can rejoice that a thorn bush has roses” - Abraham Lincoln

I love that quote. It resonates in my brain as I drive along I-55 and think about the ICHP Spring Meeting with MSHP in St. Charles, Missouri. It’s a warm, beautiful day to drive with the sun roof open to let the wind blow out all the stale winter air in the car. As the wind swirls around my head, it helps blow out the mental cobwebs from a long winter.

How often we get caught up at work or at home looking at the negative aspects of our jobs or our long “to-do” list at home. There is so much to do. There are so many projects to complete. There is so much I need to accomplish this week…or month…or year.

Our list of tasks to complete at work is like the thorns. They can be painful, or at least, undesirable. Evaluations to be finished, reports to be written, slide decks to create, journal articles to read, meetings to attend, carts to be stocked, orders to be profiled and filled, IVs to be prepared, presentations to give, classes to attend, exams to take – the list seems endless. While we are in the midst of these endless day-to-day tasks, they do appear to be thorns. We may lose sight of the patient care we are providing, the medication therapy we are preparing, the patients we are educating, the patient families we are comforting, the students and future pharmacists we are teaching, or the knowledge we are gaining for future interactions with patients.

It’s all about our frame of reference. Is the glass half-full or half-empty? It’s easy to complain about the tasks (thorns), so that we lose sight of our role, our professional purpose. It is much harder to get to the mindset that we want to get to work or to school to celebrate how lucky we are to be in a position to be helping others. Our activities, our work, help others. Our efforts improve drug delivery. Our drug therapy knowledge can help reduce costs and improve patient care. Our actions at work or school can inspire others. What we do every day for patients helps create roses. It’s up to all of us to try to see them.

There were plenty of “roses” at the Spring Meeting:

  • Insightful presentations that helped inform us of new drug therapies, and new ways of treating patients, including an amazing video asking each of us if we would treat patients differently if we knew what they were thinking and worrying about
  • Wonderful break-out sessions where informal discussions occurred
  • Poster sessions where real Q&A took place and students began to blossom with confidence
  • Roundtable workshops where smaller groups had meaningful dialogue with mentors
  • Residency directors and preceptors compared and contrasted programs
  • Time to scope out upcoming job opportunities
  • Time for shopping along the historic cobble-stoned streets of St. Charles with quaint shops and historic markers
  • Time to see old work-friends to catch up on their family lives…laughing and big smiles when old classmates got to see each other and reconnect
  • Time to share family pictures and see how rapidly friends’ children are growing up
These were the roses I saw.

One can either see the roses and the positive attributes that a professional meeting provides or complain about the location, timing, or cost of the meeting, and see only the thorns. One can look for the rosy faces of the patients we are helping and caring for, or see only our thorny to-do list getting longer every day.

It’s up to each of us, every day, to decide what we will see.

Thanks for caring.

Directly Speaking
Compounded Sterile Preparations: What’s in Your Pharmacy?

by Scott A. Meyers, Executive Vice President

Compounded sterile preparations continue to make the news these days with more recalls from small outsourcing pharmacies around the country, a grand jury determining if criminal charges are appropriate in Michigan, State and federal governments crafting tighter controls for compounding pharmacies and patients still dying or suffering the effects of the NECC debacle of last fall.

To date, 53 patients have now died (16 in Michigan) and 733 patients nationwide have been infected with fungal meningitis as a result of the contaminated products from the New England Compounding Center. As a consequence, the FDA, multiple state boards of pharmacies and other state agencies have been extremely busy inspecting, citing and sometimes shutting down a variety of compounding pharmacies that have been providing products to hospitals, physician offices and other health care facilities.

The results of a study conducted in January of this year by the Office of the Inspector General of the US Department of Health and Human Services were released in early April and the findings, while significant, were not overwhelmingly surprising, but they did have a couple of eye openers for me.¹  The 236 acute care hospitals that replied (out of 298 surveyed), reported that 92% provided patients with compounded sterile products (CSPs) and the same percentage provided sterile-to-sterile CSPs while only 25% provided patients with non-sterile-to-sterile CSPs. Non-sterile-to-sterile CSPs comprised less than1% of all CSPs dispensed from these hospitals in 2012. 75% of the hospitals surveyed reported that they used a combination of outsourcing and onsite preparation to obtain the CSPs.

These responses to the outsourcing survey opened my eyes first. Of the 49 pharmacies that indicated that they provide non-sterile-to-sterile CSPs, 63% reported using one outside pharmacy but 20% reported using two outside pharmacies and 16% reported using three outside pharmacies to obtain their CSPs. 36% used more than one outside pharmacy for these non-sterile-to-sterile CSPs, and of those 16% used out of state outside pharmacies.

The survey asked respondents what steps the pharmacy took to ensure quality from any of these outside pharmacies (for sterile-to-sterile and non-sterile-to-sterile CSPs) and by far the most popular response was that they required the outside pharmacy to be compliant with USP 797 (77% required for all outside pharmacies, 6% for some, 14% did not require that). Second most used quality measure was the review of quality reports provided by the outside pharmacy (49% required all outside pharmacies to provide, 23% requires some, and 26% required none). Only 7% of hospital pharmacies conducted onsite visits to all their outside vendors, while 15% visited some, and 73% visited none of their outside pharmacies. The least frequent step taken was to test product provided by the outside pharmacies (6% tested all outside pharmacy products, 4% tested some, and 86% did not test any products).

What was probably most surprising was what I would consider a poor level of confidence in the steps taken to ensure quality of the outside pharmacies. 42% of the hospital pharmacies that responded were very confident but 46% (almost half) were only somewhat confident and 12% were not confident at all. But they still continued to use outside pharmacies.

After reading the survey report, I went to the ASHP Foundation website to look at their Contractor Assessment Tool for Outsourcing Sterile Product Preparations².  The tool is very complete, but…as I looked through all the questions, it asks to assure that you are selecting the right contractor to produce your sterile compounded products. I found there are many cases in which you are working on a good faith basis when you ask these questions to a prospective contractor.

Sure, you can fairly easily verify that:
  • The contractor is licensed in the state where their compounding facility resides
  • The contractor is licensed to deliver product to your state
  • The contractor is registered if necessary with the DEA and FDA
  • The contractor can provide proof of liability insurance
  • Your facility will be insured if there is no written contract
  • The contractor has policies in place to handle quality assurance problems
  • The contactor provides information regarding the status of latex, DEHP and preservatives in their products
  • The types of containers the contractor prepares (syringes, minibags, etc.) meet your institution’s needs
  • The contractor has business continuity plans (on paper) to deal with natural or manmade disasters
  • The contractor provides quality control reports on a regular or as requested basis
  • The contractor provides customer service on a 24/7 basis
  • The contractor negotiates price with your GPO
  • The delivery options you need are available (same day, next-day)
  • Orders can be placed using the internet
  • The contractor offers E-222 “CSOS” ordering of controlled substances
And with a little more effort you might be able to verify that:
  • All pharmacists working in the facility are licensed in that state
  • All pharmacy technicians working in the facility are licensed or registered in that state
  • If the contractor has faced any recent disciplinary or punitive actions by the State Board of Pharmacy or FDA
But how sure can you be that the contractor meets following:
  • Adheres to USP 797
  • Maintains staff competency in aseptic technique
  • Actually conducts quality control measures as described in their promotional literature
  • Actually conducts regular media fills and reports all findings to customers
  • Properly responds to positive media fills and makes appropriate corrective actions
  • Properly trains pharmacy technician staff and insures that they are certified by an appropriate agency
  • Uses ASHP guidelines for handling of hazardous agents
  • Uses NIOSH guidelines for handling hazardous agents
  • Uses proper cleaning methods including use of appropriate sporicidal agents
  • Conducts appropriate environmental monitoring
  • Hires and maintains staff that is knowledgeable on the products they prepare both clinically and operationally
Unless someone from your facility makes a site visit to the contractor’s facility, there is really no way to be sure some of the questions on the assessment tool are being answered truthfully. That’s a lot of faith in someone who is trying to sell you something! I’m sure those pharmacy directors or buyers who purchased medications asked many of these questions of NECC, Ameridose, and all the other compounding pharmacies who have either gone out of business since last fall or have had complete recalls of their product lines. I’m sure, also that no pharmacy director has time to go visit (or send a staff member to) every potential CSP contractor before purchasing product.

Another option is to test every product received. This can take time, require added expense and may not provide useful results in a timely manner. It may, however, provide some peace of mind if there are initial concerns. And please don’t get me wrong, there are some very reputable and conscientious compounders in the market place. The problem is that they may not compound every product your institution needs or they may be hit by the same product shortages facing the entire nation.

So what other step can be taken to get closer to the truth with potential CSP contractors? Until or perhaps more appropriately if the FDA is given the purview over these compounders with regular inspections and the power to discipline when violations occur, the next best step in my mind, is for the GPOs to step up to the plate. While the staff at the GPO may or may not be qualified to make a site inspection to potential contractors, they can certainly contract with the NABP inspectors used by the Iowa Board of Pharmacy to make the rounds of contractors willing to open their doors. The GPO can provide a tremendous service to its members by compiling a list of approved contractors and unapproved contractors, or for that fact, contractors willing to be inspected and those who are not. They can provide positive observations as well as concerns.  

My hope is that Congress and the President will empower the FDA to step up and meet the need for regular inspections and improved standards that will ensure safe compounded products from registered compounders. Until then, there are steps that can be taken, and it will be interesting to see who steps forward to take those steps. What are you doing to make sure you have safe compounded sterile products in your pharmacy?


¹ Wright S. Memorandum Report: High-Risk Compounded Sterile Preparations and Outsourcing by Hospitals That Use Them, OEI-01-13-00150. (accessed 2013 April 10).

² ASHP Foundation.  Outsourcing Sterile Product Preparation – Contractor Assessment Tool. (accessed 2013 April 10).

The GAS from Springfield
So Far, So Good on the Legislative Front!

by Jim Owen and Scott Meyers

We may have just jinxed ourselves with the title of this issue’s column but it is, so far, so good!  The 7th Annual Under the Dome, Illinois Pharmacy Legislative Day held jointly with the Illinois Pharmacists Association held March 13th went very well with a very large crowd and a singular message.  Over 400 pharmacists, pharmacy students and pharmacy technicians came to Springfield and let their collective voices be heard.  While some participants failed to connect directly with their Senators and Representatives, many more made contact and shared our views on two of the key pharmacy bills before this year’s General Assembly.  Check out the photo gallery in this issue and talk to any of those who participated to get a better flavor of the day’s events and excitement that it generated!

First and foremost was our message on SB1934 – Biosimilars, sponsored by Sen. Tony Munoz of Chicago.  Just in case you’ve missed previous articles and multiple emails, this bill would require that pharmacists who dispense an “Interchangeable Biosimilar” in place of the innovator biological product in the future (far into the future since the FDA has not approved one biosimilar yet, let alone a biosimilar that is interchangeable – see FDA presentation) to report back to the prescriber that the interchange had occurred.  We fought this bill because no other drug class requires this type of reporting after interchange or substitution, and biologic agents have proven to be safer than many high risk medications like anticoagulants and antiepileptic agents.  

The second bad bill we lobbied against, HB2730 would require community pharmacies to print the lot number of each medication on the prescription label.  Unless you’ve never spent a day in a community pharmacy, you know that there is little or no room left on any prescription label especially for a lot number or lot numbers that are often up to 10 digits long.  Rep. Jack Franks from Woodstock is the sponsor and our efforts on this issue paid off as that bill did not make it out of committee.

Our efforts on SB1934 eventually paid off this year, even though the bill was passed out of the Executive Committee one week after Leg Day.  But the facts, our presence on Legislative Day and an extremely strong coalition that included the Illinois AARP, Caterpillar, The Rheumatism Foundation, several pharmaceutical manufacturers, along with every significant pharmacy organization in Illinois convinced the sponsor to hold the bill this year!

Other bills that we are monitoring have continued to move slowly with nothing too threatening at this time.  Here are the bills that are still active:

HB1052 – Rep. Bradley (D), Marion – Amends the Nurse Practice Act and other Acts but no longer removes references to a written collaborative agreement.   It has been amended to allow APNs to provide services the collaborating physician currently provides or could provide.

SB1610 – Sen. Silverstein (D), Chicago – Amends the Department of Public Health Powers and Duties Law of the Civil Administrative Code to require facilities licensed by the Department to mandate influenza vaccinations of affiliated health care workers or health care workers who are not immunized must wear a surgical mask while performing duties during the influenza season.

SB1741 – Sen. Koehler (D), Peoria –
Amends the State Finance Act to sweep funds from multiple dedicated funds into the General Revenue Fund including $2.054M from the Pharmacy Disciplinary Fund, making it almost insolvent.  If this one passes, pharmacist and pharmacy licensing fees will undoubtedly be raised quickly!

SB2187 – Sen. Don Harmon (D), Oak Park – Amends the Clinical Psychologist Licensing Act to provide specially trained and certified clinical psychologists the ability to prescribe medications.

HB0001 – Rep. Lang (D), Skokie – Creates the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act, allowing registered qualifying patient to possess up to 2.5 oz of medical cannabis.  It has passed out of the House for the first time and appears to be looked upon favorably in the Senate.

HB0011 – Rep. Flowers (D), Chicago – Amends the Pharmacy Practice Act and other Acts and would require pharmacies that receive State or Federal funds to provide services to the unemployed without reimbursement.  It has been amended to require State unemployment offices to provide drug assistance program information to the unemployed at time of explanation of benefits and removes the requirement of the pharmacies to dispense meds without payment.

Leg Day - Horizontal ImageHB0084 – Rep. Franks (D), Woodstock – Amends the Wholesale Drug Distribution Licensing Act to prohibit the sale of “drugs in shortage” by any entity other than licensed manufacturers and wholesalers.

Please watch your emails and future issues of KeePosted so that you stay informed and can be proactive on behalf of your profession!  The legislative session will continue until the end of May, so the fight is nowhere near over!  But at the risk of the jinx, so far, so good!

Editor’s Note: To get a better idea of the opposition tactics we’re facing and our response to them, check out these two Op-Ed pieces that appeared on the Crain’s Chicago Business website.

State can clear path for biosimilar drugs –David Miller
Illinois doesn’t need barriers to biosimilar drugs –David Vite, Scott A. Meyers, and Garth Reynolds

*Please note: To view these articles, you will need to sign up for a free registration to view up to 10 articles a week at

Leadership Profile
Carol Heunisch, PharmD, BCPS, ICHP Secretary-Elect

Full name and Credentials:
Carol Heunisch, PharmD, BCPS

Where did you go to pharmacy school?
The University of Illinois at Chicago

Trace your professional history since graduation. Where have you trained and worked?
When I completed my Bachelors in pharmacy, I worked full-time as a staff pharmacist at Northwest Community Hospital and part-time at Skokie Valley Hospital. About nine months after graduation, I took a full-time position at Skokie Valley. During this time, I was a staff pharmacist, mostly covering the IV room and practicing as a generalist. I went back to UIC to complete my PharmD degree and then returned to Rush North Shore Medical Center with primary responsibilities as a clinical pharmacist in the ICU. I was promoted to manager in 1998 and then director in 2001. In 2009, Rush North Shore Medical Center merged with NorthShore University Health-System, and I have been operations manager at Skokie Hospital ever since. I have been really fortunate to have had many different opportunities in the same organization.

Describe your current area of practice and practice setting.
Skokie Hospital is a 136 bed hospital that is part of NorthShore University Health System. The health-system is comprised of four teaching hospitals. While being operations manager at Skokie Hospital, I also have the opportunity to staff on our medicine and cardiology floors as well as being the cardiology preceptor for the PGY1 residency program.

What initially motivated you to get involved with ICHP?

I saw ICHP as an avenue to get involved outside of work and give back to the profession. I initially got involved when Stan Kent sent out an email calling for volunteers to be part of a residency roundtable discussion during an ICHP annual meeting and have been involved ever since.

What advice would you give to a new practitioner eager to become more involved within ICHP?
Take the first step and become a member. It’s easy to get your feet wet and become a poster reviewer or take part in the residency showcase on behalf of your hospital. My manager initially got me involved, so I always recommend using your network and resources from within your institution as well. You can always motivate your coworkers to also be part of ICHP.

Is there an individual you admire or look up to or a mentor that has influenced your career?
I had a director by the name of Coleen Cherici, who was very inspiring and showed me the difference between being a manager and a leader, and how to combine the best of both. I also consider myself to be fortunate to work with someone like Stan Kent, the Assistant Vice President for Pharmacy Services at NorthShore University Health System and Past President of ASHP, who has accomplished so much in his career to advocate for the role of the pharmacist in the health-system setting.

What is your vision for pharmacy in the future? Or what would you like to able to see accomplished within pharmacy?

My vision for the future of pharmacy is to have pharmacists be recognized as providers and to continue to move our clinical services forward. I truly believe there is no limit to what we can accomplish as clinicians and the benefits our knowledge and expertise can bring to our patients.

What three adjectives would people use to best describe you?
Hardworking, knowledgeable and motivating

What is your favorite place to vacation?
I like to go anywhere that is warm and sunny. I would never pass up an opportunity to travel to Maui!

What is the most interesting/unique fact about yourself that few people know?

Few people may know that I am an avid runner. In 2012, I ran five half marathons.

Educational Affairs
Brief Abstracts of the Winning Poster Presentations and the Selected Platform Presentations for the ICHP / MSHP 2013 Spring Meeting

ICHP Original Poster Winner

TITLE: Management of Clostridium difficile infections and the effects of protocol regulated treatment on patient outcomes

Submitting author: Craig R. Grzendzielewski, PharmD
Co-authors: Kimberly A. Janicek, PharmD; Nicole Costa, PharmD;  Frederick S. Alexander, MD
Presence Saint Joseph Medical Center

PURPOSE: Guidelines published in 2010 by the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA) and the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) provide recommendations for the treatment of Clostridium difficile infections. However, these guidelines do not address treatment with fidaxomicin, which was approved in May 2011 to treat Clostridium difficile infections. At our institution, the treatment of Clostridium difficile infections is not standardized and varies between physician groups.

The objective of this study is to determine the effect on patient outcomes after implementation of a protocol regulated Clostridium difficile algorithm which incorporates fidaxomicin.

ICHP Encore Poster Winner

TITLE: Impact on pharmacist interventions by implementing pharmacy practice model changes

Submitting author: Ed C. Rainville, MS Pharm;
Co-authors: Jerry A. Storm, BS Pharm;  Vern L. Johnson, BS Pharm; Mike R. Hawley, BS Pharm
OSF Saint Francis Medical Center

PURPOSE: The purpose of this study is to show the impact of pharmacy practice model changes on the number of pharmacists' interventions.

ICHP Student Poster Winner

TITLE: Platelet recovery in hospitalized patients with thrombocytopenia after changing beta-lactam therapy

Submitting author:
Katelyn Mae Daniels, PharmD Candidate
Co-author: Scott Bergman, PharmD, BCPS
Southern Illinois University Edwardsville School of Pharmacy and Southern Illinois University School of Medicine

PURPOSE: This study aims to determine if platelet recovery differs after changing beta-lactam therapy in hospitalized patients with thrombocytopenia. We will compare patients that were switched to an alternative class of antibiotics to those that were changed to a different beta-lactam therapy.

ICHP Pharmacy Practice Platform Presentations

The following two original research poster submissions were accepted as platform presentations for an education session at the ICHP/MSHP Spring Meeting. Volunteer judges then participated in evaluating the presentations – both for content and presentation style. The vote was extremely close, so we present both abstracts here for your information.

ICHP Platform Presentation #1 - Winner

TITLE:  Efficacy of Antiretroviral Therapy in a Large Urban Clinic: Does a Diverse Patient Population Require a Diversity of Treatment Options?

Submitting Author:
Andrew Merker, PharmD, Pharmacy Resident
Co-author: Blake Max, PharmD, AAHIVE
Ruth M. Rothstein CORE Center

PURPOSE: There are numerous highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) combinations to treat human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). The high cost of preferred regimens, and possible availability of less expensive generics, may significantly impact formularies. The purpose of this study is to determine the proportion of patients engaged in care with undetectable viral load (VL) and document the diversity of regimens in order to evaluate the necessity of having a large complement of antiretrovirals for optimal HIV treatment.

ICHP Platform Presentation #2

TITLE: Effects of an outpatient generic medication voucher program on the generic dispensing ratio (GDR) in a 4,100 physician-hospital organization (PHO) – 4 year’s experience

Submitting Author:
Mark Edward Greg, PharmD, RPh
Advocate Physician Partners

PURPOSE: To describe the effects of an outpatient generic medication voucher program on the GDR in a 4,100-plus physician member PHO as part of a comprehensive academic detailing program over a four year period of time.


For full abstracts, go to the Educational Affairs article in the Mar/Apr


Congratulations to ICHP member Connie M. Larson whose publication (with co-author Deb Saine), Medication Safety Officer’s Handbook, is featured on ASHP’s Online Marketplace. The book will be published late in May, but is available for pre-order here. ASHP members save $15.


Congratulations to ICHP Members Chris Rivers, Clinical Specialist at Edward Hines VA Medical Center and Chris Herndon, Clinical Specialist and Assistant Professor at the Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville, School of Pharmacy for being nominated  to run for Director-at-large and Chair (respectively) of ASHP's Section of Ambulatory Care Practitioners.

In addition, congratulations to soon-to-be ICHP member Jennifer Tryon, new Director of Pharmacy Services at the University of Chicago Medical Center who has been nominated as a candidate for Director-at-large of ASHP's Section of Pharmacy Practice Managers. Jennifer is coming to the U of C from Vancouver, WA.

Finally, congratulations to former ICHP member, Lijian (Leo) Cai, Director of Pharmacy at Wheaton Franciscan St. Joseph Hospital in Milwaukee and former Director of Operations at the University of Chicago Medical Center has been nominated to run for Chair of ASHP's Section of Inpatient Care Practitioners. Good luck to all these outstanding candidates!

College Connections

Lights, Camera, Pharmacy Action

by Alexandra Habanek, P2 Student, ICHP Student Representative, University of Illinois at Chicago College of Pharmacy

We iron our white coats, review our legislation notes, and step into the spotlight in Springfield, Illinois. Such an opportunity for aspiring pharmacists is made possible only at Legislative Day. Most pharmacy students are new to advocating for a cause in our state’s Capitol. Fortunately, our experienced leaders guide and direct us and we work with award-worthy supporting colleagues to send our message. On Legislative Day we all share the same goal: to advocate on behalf of the profession of pharmacy.

Upon arriving in Springfield for my second Legislative Day, the excitement is palpable. Months of waiting and a lengthy bus ride have pharmacy students eager and ready to seize the day. Attendees mingle, chatter and catch up with friends in the time leading up to the first presentation by ICHP’s Executive Vice President, Scott Meyers, and IPhA’s Executive Director, Garth Reynolds. How fortunate we are to learn from the experts about the most up-to-date potential changes that could directly affect pharmacists. Having brushed up on our house and senate bills, we feel ready to make our debut in the Capitol.

Twenty-five determined groups of pharmacists, technicians and students divided by voting district march down Capitol Avenue, mapping out strategic plans of how they will find their respective Senators and Representatives. Having just reviewed the pertinent issues affecting pharmacy, we also rehearse line by line what we will say to the individuals who vote on these changes. I take on the responsibility of presenting House Bill 2730 about lot numbers to any Senator or Representative Group 4 will meet. Feeling a tad nervous about this, I ask Abraham Lincoln for good luck as we pass his giant statue on the way into the Capitol Building.

Once inside, some of the things I instantly remember from Legislative Day 2012 are the beautiful dome and the maze-like design of the building. However, this year, the complicated layout will be much easier to navigate likely due to fewer crowds from other politically interested niches in the building, and an ounce of familiarity. Group 4 embarks on its journey to meets its Senators and Representatives of interest, but our Senator and Representative are not in their offices, so we transition to our alternative plan.

We arrive at the perfect time to sit in on a debate about a proposed gun law where we know our Representatives are present. The ornate décor of the hall and the intensity of the debate impress us all. We listen as the arguments move back and forth over an issue that will ultimately affect thousands of people if the bill moves on. Meanwhile, I keep busy from my seat in the balcony trying to locate our Representatives.

All of a sudden, Representative Arthur Turner from our district stands up and heads towards the door. I quickly rally the other Group 4 members and we hurry to the lower level to try to meet him. We keep our eye on him while he speaks to several other people, and plan how we can make our way up to him. This is the moment we have waited for; our chance to share the pharmacy-related bills with the individual who votes on our behalf. Right as he is about to re-enter the debate room, another Group 4 member and I rush towards him to shake hands and to introduce ourselves. I am immediately star-struck, but in the heat of the moment I successfully deliver my lines about HB 2730, as does my peer about Senate Bill 1934, which is about biosimilars. Representative Turner even offers to meet with us closer to home at UIC! Before we know it, he disappears back into the meeting room and Group 4 remains in the hallway, soaking in the joy of the moment. The star-struckedness lasts all day after our encounter with Representative Turner.

We spend the rest of the day exchanging similar stories with new and old friends from other groups. I relish in the high-density surroundings of so many pharmacists, technicians, and students and think about how we are all in Springfield to advance our profession as a group and in the eyes of Illinois legislators. On the bus ride home I reflect on Legislative Day with my Group Leader from 2012, who made my first Legislative Day so memorable. I am pleased to share with her my role in meeting Representative Turner, and express my enthusiasm for this event as a whole. We cannot wait to step back into the Springfield spotlight next year.

Becoming the Change

by Megan Herman, P2, SSHP Fundraising Chair, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville School of Pharmacy

At our last meeting, we had a guest speaker come to talk to us about the Pharmacy Practice Model Initiative. The speaker talked about how we need to be the change in the practice of pharmacy. We need to take the initiative and start helping the profession with what we know. The SSHP chapter at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville School of Pharmacy is trying to do just that, “being the change.”

Recently, I had a very unique opportunity arise. Our chapter is looking into getting involved with the deaf community. I was able to attend the Deaf Winterfest where the Vice President of our chapter of SSHP and I gave a presentation about medication awareness. I have never given a presentation to a large group before. The audience was very involved and very appreciative of us coming to talk to them.

This experience was a very humbling experience. I want to continue and potentially expand our role not only in this community, but in other communities as well. As our guest speaker said, we need to be the change we want to see. I encourage everyone to go out and be the change you want to see.

Learning More about the Indian Health Service

by Elizabeth Philip, P-2, SSHP Webmaster, Chicago State University-College of Pharmacy

Like many other pharmacy students, I really did not know much about the Indian Health Service (IHS). When I heard that a speaker from IHS was coming to Chicago State University (CSU) to explain to pharmacy students about IHS services and their residency program, I was overjoyed. I was really excited to learn more about the program because I am considering doing a residency after graduation.

LT Jennifer Bongartz, PharmD, BCPS from the U.S. Public Health Service and IHS came to CSU on February 12th, 2013 to give a talk about the Indian Health Service and their residency program. LT Bongartz works in the Navajo area in Shiprock, New Mexico. LT Bongartz completed her undergraduate and Doctor of Pharmacy degrees at the University of Iowa. After that, she completed a PGY-1 residency at IHS. She currently works as a clinical pharmacist in an outpatient setting at the Northern Novajo Medical Center.

IHS is an agency within the Department of Health and Human Services that is responsible for providing healthcare to American Indians and Alaska natives. The U.S. Public Health Service is recognized as a Uniformed Service. These health care professionals wear uniforms daily that are similar to working khaki and service dress blue uniforms of the Navy. IHS serves around 566 federally recognized tribes, which are made up of over two million Native Americans and Alaskan natives. IHS provides many comprehensive medical services. It is located in twelve different areas, mainly in the southwest regions across the United States. One of the unique features of IHS is their counseling practice. At Northern Navajo Medical Center, all the patients picking up new prescriptions or getting discharged from the hospital receive medication counseling from the pharmacist.

Many of the IHS pharmacists serve in an ambulatory care or outpatient setting, depending on the site. LT Bongartz’s facility serves any Native American or Alaska native, but their primary population is the Navajo nation. The pharmacist has various responsibilities that may include conducting clinics in collaboration with nurses and physicians for various disease states. Many of their patients have diabetes, hyperlipidemia, hypertension, and asthma. IHS pharmacists have the opportunity to obtain a clinician practice license to prescribe and manage patients seen in their clinic.

Here are some highlights about the residency program that were covered during the presentation:  
  • There are eighteen IHS sites across the United States and there are twenty-one residency spots.
  • IHS does not go through the match, although it is a very competitive process.
  • Applications are usually due in the beginning of January. Then, if selected, there will either be a phone or on-site interview. By February, the candidate will know if he/she has been selected.
  • The benefits of the IHS residency program are plentiful. One of them is that the resident is paid at the base salary for a pharmacist which is more than most starting pharmacy residents. For example, a starting salary is around $80,000.
  • When hired in the USPHS, there is full medical and dental coverage, 30 days of vacation and bonus pay every year as an officer.
  • The employee can also get loan repayment depending on the site.
  • Moreover, IHS hospitals are located in such beautiful rural areas that the natural beauty is breathtaking. Thus, if anyone is interested in adventure in beautiful sceneries and surrounding themselves with diverse Indian/Alaskan tribes and learning about their culturally rich traditions, then this is the place to be.
 For more information regarding residency make sure to check out the IHS website (


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