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Closer to patients

Newly board certified ambulatory care pharmacist Dr. Ghada Khoury, assistant professor at LAU’s School of Pharmacy, talks about the growing importance of this practice in the health system.

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Ambulatory-care pharmacist Dr. Ghada Khoury got her board certification on December 31, 2012. She is here seen counseling a patient at Shatlia camp health clinic.

 Let us start by defining ambulatory care. What does it consist of?
Ambulatory care encompasses health-related services for patients who walk to seek their care. For example, outpatients who visit general or specialty clinics versus hospitalized patients. Proper ambulatory care results in better treatment outcomes and decreased hospitalization rates at reduced costs. Also, ambulatory-care pharmacists practice a more active role in the management of patients with chronic diseases.

What is the role of an ambulatory-care pharmacy specialist?
Unfortunately, the prevalence of chronic diseases has increased over the past few decades, which along with longer life expectancy rates has caused a shift toward efficient outpatient care in most developed nations and particularly in the U.S. A wide array of diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, osteoporosis, dyslipidemia, respiratory disorders, heart failure and hypercoagulable states are more efficiently managed in an ambulatory care setting that is more accessible and affordable.
The ambulatory-care pharmacist has a close and interactive relationship with the patient. Indeed, we are directly involved in disease and medication management protocols, tracking adverse drug reactions and providing written information with each new prescription. We monitor compliance with medication use and provide oral counseling with every prescription. We also conduct wellness and preventive health programs and immunization screenings.
In fact, our role is crucial in optimizing treatment plans and improving the overall health status of the population.

What is the value of board certification in ambulatory care?
The Pharmacists’ Board certification allows us to practice in line with U.S. standards. It ensures the pharmacist possesses a high level of knowledge and skills in ambulatory-care settings. That, in effect, positively impacts the students I teach at LAU, and the patients I interact with at LAU affiliated LAU Medical Center–Rizk Hospital hospital and its extended sites. It also reinforces LAU’s mission and ethos of commitment to excellence.

How do you expect to apply your new certification at LAU?
Every Thursday, myself and an interdisciplinary team of medical, nursing, and pharmacy faculty and students spend time at the Shatila camp health clinic managing patients with chronic diseases. It is a great opportunity for interdisciplinary education and collaboration.
I will also be starting the provision of free pharmacy services at LAU Medical Center–Rizk Hospital, which will consist of medication therapy management, in addition to extensive patient education in accordance with the physicians’ recommendations, all in a primary care setting.

Where do you see areas of growth for ambulatory care pharmacists?
I foresee a big demand for this profession since there’s a growing emphasis on preventive care, aimed primarily at improving patients’ quality of life and decreasing health-care costs. I am looking forward to offering my expertise to serve the population in ensuring a better future, at least from a health perspective. I also highly encourage graduating pharmacy students to pursue careers in ambulatory care. The field offers a variety of opportunities ranging from safety net clinics, government health-care systems, community hospitals or teaching medical centers to private physician practice groups, managed care organizations, pharmaceutical industry, and last but ot least, academia.

 

This article is part of a series of Q&As with members of the LAU community posted on a monthly basis.
 


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