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Brittany Jennings
June 19, 2020

Pictured: The MAHEC and UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy team, including Mollie Scott (left), Irene Ulrich, Courtenay Wilson, Tasha Woodall, Bill Hitch, and Rebecca Grandy.

The Geriatric Pharmacy PGY2 residency program, a collaboration between the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy, and the Mountain Area Health Education Center (MAHEC), is now officially accredited by the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists.

The purpose of the PGY2 Geriatric Pharmacy Residency, based in western North Carolina, is to prepare geriatric pharmacotherapy specialists who have mastered the skills necessary to care for the aging population and are equipped to lead change in medical and academic communities. A heavy emphasis on teaching also provides the resident with experience needed to function at a high level in academic environments. The curriculum is especially well suited to foster abilities in ambulatory/primary care geriatrics.

“The US population is aging rapidly, while the workforce trained to provide healthcare for older adults struggles to keep up. This is especially true here in western NC, where the proportion of residents 65 and older exceeds the national average. We are proud to be able to offer this program that prepares pharmacists to care for older people across multiple inpatient and outpatient settings and are especially excited about expanding from one to two residents in the coming year,” said Tasha Woodall, Pharm.D., BCGP, CPP, residency program director at MAHEC.  

To date, two residents have been through the program. Residents gain experience serving as a high-functioning member of an interprofessoinal team across multiple care settings, including ambulatory clinics, skilled nursing/rehabilitation facilities, and home-based primary care.  Geriatric pharmacists contribute to the education of the residents at Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly, Black Mountain Neuro-Medical Treatment Center, Deerfield Episcopal Retirement Community, Givens Estates, Blue Ridge Pharmacy, and Neil Medical Group.

“I completed my pharmacy residency in geriatrics over 25 years ago, and unfortunately the number of PGY2 residencies in geriatrics has not substantially increased since then.  It was important to me to develop this program in collaboration with MAHEC in order to inspire a future generation of pharmacists to seek careers that improve the lives of our older adults.  Our residents are exceptionally trained and are highly sought after by organizations in need of specialized clinicians and faculty in the field of geriatrics,” said Mollie Scott, Pharm.D., BCACP, CPP, FASHP, the School’s Regional Associate Dean based in Asheville, N.C.

Residents also teach learners of multiple disciplines at various levels of training, care for patients and support caregivers around the end of life; make complex pharmacotherapeutic decisions regarding care of special populations (dementia, rural/homebound, etc.); and advocate for older adults at the level of the health system and beyond.

Shannon Rice, current resident in the program said, “This program is intentionally designed to not only create proficient geriatric pharmacists, but also, through the alignment with the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy, develop professional educators empowered to further disseminate knowledge about the pharmacologic management of older adults. I am so grateful for the opportunity to grow as a pharmacist through this program and feel confidently prepared to enter the next step of my career because of it.”

For more information about the program, visit MAHEC’s website.

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