Three years ago, Nan Yang was working in a Milwaukee-area pharmacy as part of her Concordia University Wisconsin School of Pharmacy educational experience when she began to notice a pattern: patient after patient visited the site with withdrawal symptoms because they had not taken their medication as prescribed.
It wasn’t always a matter of blatant disregard for their health, says Yang, who graduated spring 2017 with her PharmD degree. The patients needed support—a lesson on how their medications worked and what the consequences might be if they strayed from taking them as prescribed.
“It’s our job as health care providers to help the patient and keep them out of the hospital,” she said. “We need to proactively approach patients. If we keep the patient well-managed, they can control their symptoms and control their health. Eventually, that can save them money and save them from discomfort and pain.”
That mindset—one that was instilled through her Concordia education—has led Yang to pursue a community-based pharmacy residency opportunity through CUW at Evergreen Pharmacy in West Allis. Yang is the first to be accepted to the new residency program. She began her residency on June 26.
As a community pharmacy, Evergreen places an emphasis on providing extended patient care services to underserved populations. For example, Yang is able to offer expertise and advice over the phone at no cost to the patient and serve as an advocate for patients by connecting with doctors and physicians on their behalf.
Some of her daily work involves performing patient assessments to understand patients’ medical history and determine if they are properly taking their medication. She then works to develop an individualized treatment plan or medication management plan to educate patients on healthy habits.
Yang’s residency also involves a teaching component. During the yearlong residency, she will spend one day a week on Concordia’s campus offering real-world expertise as a guest lecturer and instructor in pharmacy classes.
The Evergreen residency is one of three academic ambulatory care residencies Concordia offers its postgraduate year one (PGY1) pharmacists. Concordia has partnered with Milwaukee Health Services, Inc. and AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin to offer two PGY1 residency emphasis options: a 24-month Practice and Academic Leadership emphasis and a 12-month Urban Underserved emphasis.
Contrary to most other ambulatory care-focused residency programs, Concordia’s residencies focus on preparing academic ambulatory care pharmacists, urban underserved practice areas and experiences in both teaching and learning.
“It’s often said that a residency year is comparable to three years of professional work experience because there are so many opportunities for residents to enhance their clinical and leadership skills,” says Dr. Sarah Ray, CUW pharmacy professor and residency program director. “These residencies are a clear fulfillment of Concordia’s mission: students can get those value-added experiences while serving the community and becoming change agents.”
Concordia’s mission of preparing students for “service to Christ in the Church and world” is what originally prompted Yang, a Sunnyvale, California, native to bid her west-coast beaches goodbye and pursue a Midwest university education—and she hasn’t regretted it.
“Concordia not only prepared me as a pharmacist, it prepared me as a person and in my faith,” Yang says. “I feel like I was taught really well and fully prepared at Concordia, and now I’d like share my knowledge and passion with others.”