The Geriatric Pharmacotherapy Program is dedicated to improving drug therapy outcomes in older adults and being a nationally recognized leader in geriatric pharmacotherapy.
The first three decades of the 21st century will see an unprecedented increase in the number of older adults, particularly those 85 years of age and older. Untoward outcomes from drug therapy occur all too often and will become an even greater problem in the future. Through education of health care students and professionals and practice-based clinical research, the Geriatric Pharmacotherapy Program makes significant contributions to improving the health of older people and achieving desired therapy outcomes.
The Program is directed by Dr. Patricia Slattum. Other program faculty specializing in geriatric pharmacotherapy includes Drs. Kelechi Ogbonna, Emily Peron, and Krista Donohoe. Together, the program faculty provides geriatric-related teaching, practice innovation, community engagement, research, and scholarship for the School of Pharmacy.
Who we are:
Educational Opportunities in Geriatrics
Geriatrics in the PharmD curriculumOne goal in developing the current PharmD curriculum at VCU was to infuse geriatrics/gerontology throughout to better prepare graduates to serve the growing aging population. In this curriculum, a 2-credit Introduction to Special Populations course (PHAR 529) in the spring semester of the P1 year includes topics such as biology of aging, geriatric assessment, caregiving, geriatric syndromes, medication-related problems in older adults, geriatric pharmacokinetics, and successful aging. Active learning techniques engage students in the classroom. Students play the Aging and Medication Game to increase their awareness of issues faced by older adults as they navigate the health care system. In the spring semester of the P3 year, students take a 1-credit Special Populations course (PHAR 721) addressing medication management in complex older adult patients and incorporating reduced life expectancy and patient goals into prescribing decisions. Students complete patient cases in a team-based learning format followed by additional cases in small group discussion. In addition to these two modules, geriatrics and gerontology content is integrated into courses ranging from The US Health System and Communications in Pharmacy Practice to Clinical Therapeutics courses in cardiology, endocrinology, neurology, gastroenterology, pulmonary medicine, and psychiatry. The clinical therapeutics courses employ team-based learning to develop critical thinking and life-long learning skills. In the P4 year, all students complete a 200-hour APPE working with older adults in a variety of pharmacy practice settings.
Geriatrics 101: Demystifying a Population: Most pharmacists, regardless of their practice setting, will be expected to care for an older adult at some point in their career. This 2-credit course is designed to expand upon the fundamental geriatric concepts presented throughout the PharmD curriculum and to challenge students to apply gained knowledge to patient cases and scenarios. Students will also gain experience working in teams and effectively sharing information. The over-arching goal of this course is to prepare student pharmacists to communicate with, assess, and treat older adults in a variety of settings.
PharmD-Graduate Certificate in Aging Studies
VCU has offered a combined Doctor of Pharmacy and Graduate Certificate in Aging Studies for more than 25 years. The collaboration between the Department of Gerontology and the School of Pharmacy continues to flourish and expand. This unique opportunity allows pharmacy students to interact with colleagues from other disciplines, including gerontology, social work, nursing, and psychology, who share a common interest in caring for older adults. Pharmacy students are challenged to expand their thinking beyond their primary discipline in ways that enrich their professional relationships and thus the care they provide to older adults. Additional information about the curriculum. For more information contact Dr. Patricia Slattum.
Graduate Program (MS and PhD) in Pharmacotherapy (Geriatrics focus)
We offer a graduate program in the Pharmaceutical Sciences with a track in Pharmacotherapy. Students interested in geriatrics/gerontology in this program work with faculty in the Geriatric Pharmacotherapy Program to conduct dissertation research related to medications and older adults. Students undertake a curriculum including courses in research methods, statistics, pharmacotherapy, geriatrics, and gerontology to support their development as researchers in geriatric pharmacotherapy. For more information contact Dr. Patricia Slattum.
Interprofessional Education and Geriatrics
The Geriatric Pharmacotherapy Program faculty play a significant role in the activities of the VGEC. The VGEC is a partnership between VCU, Eastern Virginia Medical School, and the University of Virginia representing multiple healthcare disciplines (gerontology, medicine, nursing, pharmacy, physical and occupational therapy, social work) and evaluation experts who develop programs focused on themes of interprofessional teamwork, medication management, and transitions of care in geriatrics. The VGEC provides three annual interprofessional education initiatives: 1) a 160-hour faculty development program, 2) a 40-hour train-the-trainer program for health professionals, and 3) a 24-hour evidence-based practice training on reducing falls for interprofessional provider teams.
Next Steps in Physicians’ Training in Geriatrics
Faculty members in the Geriatric Pharmacotherapy Program actively participate in the Next Steps in Physicians’ Training in Geriatrics, an interprofessional educational (IPE) activity that is funded by the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation. This project involves senior students from pharmacy, medicine, nursing, and social work collaborating in small groups using a virtual classroom and an electronic health record to solve an evolving complex geriatric patient case. The goals of this IPE exercise include learning and applying geriatric-specific knowledge and learning to work collaboratively in teams. Faculty members from all disciplines were actively involved in creation of this unique IPE activity and remain involved in its delivery.
Continuing Professional Education in Geriatrics
Geriatric Principles for Appropriate Care: A Continuing Education Program for Hospital Pharmacists
This program is a 15-hour competency-based ACPE-approved continuing education program primarily focused on health system-based pharmacists.The overall objectives of this program are to enhance skills and knowledge to provide clinical services to geriatric patients, to provide guidance to hospital pharmacists on how to improve medication-related communication during transitions of care, and to provide geriatric pharmacotherapy resources to hospital pharmacists. Participants are required to read selected articles and participate in online interactive instruction prior to a live program. The 8-hour live program incorporates active learning techniques, case-based studies, lecture, and discussion to apply program content and identify opportunities to use these concepts in practice.
Plaza Pharmacy is located within Imperial Plaza, a large retirement community with approximately 900 independent living residents and 150 assisted living older adult residents. The School and Imperial Plaza have partnered for over ten years to provide APPEs, service learning, and research opportunities for pharmacy and graduate students, and innovative pharmacy services for older adults. Through an on-site pharmacy clinic, Plaza Pharmacy staff and School of Pharmacy faculty and students develop, implement, and improve services in response to needs expressed by the community. Ongoing services and activities provided through the clinic include individualized patient counseling, medication reviews, blood pressure monitoring, immunizations, health screenings, and medication therapy management sessions.
Dominion Place is an independently owned apartment complex for eligible low-income elders. To begin addressing the healthcare challenges within this community, Dominion Place and VCU partnered in April 2012 to implement an on-site wellness clinic with a focus on improving health outcomes while decreasing non-emergent healthcare utilization. P3 service learning students and P4 APPE students to enhance their understanding of appropriate, comprehensive geriatric care as interprofessional pairs of students from the Schools of Pharmacy, Nursing, Medicine, and Social Work provide care coordination through health screenings and counseling services with a focus on diabetes, hypertension, and medication management. The partnership has received three grants including a recently awarded $1.5 million HRSA grant to refine services at Dominion Place and to replicate the practice model at two other sites in downtown Richmond.
In collaboration with Bremo Pharmacy, medication therapy management services are provided for older adults both in the pharmacy and in patients’ homes. Health promotion work includes educating older adults residing in the community about safe medication practices and conducting vaccine clinics. Other senior-friendly services offered through Bremo Pharmacy include specialty packaging, compounding, refill synchronization, and home delivery. Bremo Pharmacy also operates a long-term care pharmacy, in which medications are supplied and medication regimens are reviewed for those residing in assisted living facilities and group homes. P1 introductory pharmacy practice experiences and P4 APPEs are offered at Bremo in addition to a PGY-1 Community Pharmacy Residency in association with VCU.
The RACCP is a non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation designed to assist patients who cannot afford their necessary “brand name only” medications. Developed as a partnership of Senior Connections (http://www.seniorconnections-va.org/) (Richmond’s local Area Agency on Aging), the VCU School of Pharmacy, and Riverside Health System in 2010, the pharmacy applies to the assistance programs of pharmaceutical manufacturers on behalf of its patients. Unlike other area pharmacies providing a similar service, RACCP does not operate in association with a clinic and thus serves any patient who has access to a doctor or nurse practitioner but cannot afford their medications. RACCP also provides medication therapy management services for its clients to improve the overall use of medications in this population who often experience uncoordinated care. VCU faculty and students supported VCU School of Pharmacy alumnus Ron Gregory, who now serves as the Pharmacist-in-Charge, to obtain funding and premises and to establish the nonprofit pharmacy. The RACCP serves as a venue for P3 service learning experiences and as a community outreach service of the VCU SOP.
SACGP is a student organization committed to encouraging and facilitating student pharmacists’ involvement with older adults. The organization hosts numerous opportunities for members to apply their knowledge and skills to working with older adults. SACGP members can be found delivering educational talks at the Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly, lobbying for issues of interest to geriatric pharmacists through the American Society of Consultant Pharmacists’ Virtual Lobby Day, and coordinating blood pressure screenings, immunization clinics, and comprehensive health fairs at local retirement and assisted living facility communities. SACGP student leaders facilitate professional development opportunities throughout the year, including geriatric pharmacist shadowing and consultant pharmacist roundtable discussions. SACGP members work with the Geriatric Pharmacotherapy Group to identify new opportunities for community engagement and scholarship.