Pawsitively Collaborative: A new partnership in Veterinary Pharmacy
A growing collaboration across the University of Illinois System improves education and health outcomes for humans and animals alike.
In July 2022, the UIC College of Pharmacy and the University of Illinois Veterinary Teaching Hospital in Urbana welcomed their first official resident in veterinary pharmacy, marking the formalization of a new type of intercampus, interprofessional collaboration that demonstrates the strengths of the University of Illinois System.
This residency and partnership were several years in the making and would not have been possible without the work of Dr. Allison Schriever, PharmD ’99, clinical assistant professor of pharmacy practice and director of experiential education for the college’s Rockford campus.
The informal relationship between the college and the veterinary teaching hospital began when Schriever was developing the Rockford campus’s experiential education programs and Rural Pharmacy Education (RPHARM) program. She was hoping to add veterinary pharmacy to the list of educational experiences for UIC PharmD students.
“Contact with the veterinary hospital was something that initially happened through my work with RPHARM,” Schriever says. “It just made sense to develop this partnership: the College of Veterinary Medicine, which is one of the best, and the veterinary teaching hospital are part of our University of Illinois System, they service rural communities, and their campus has a large agricultural footprint.
History of the Collaboration Heading link
According to Schriever, the collaboration started out small, with the college sending a handful of PharmD students to do advanced pharmacy practice experiences (APPEs) in the veterinary hospital’s drug dispensary. She began conversations with Lauren Forsythe, PharmD, medication dispensary coordinator and service head for the hospital, about new and different ways to collaborate.
“Our collaboration really solidified once we started talking about the veterinary pharmacy residency program. It was important to Lauren to establish a veterinary pharmacy residency program in her hospital. There were requirements for the residency that the hospital wouldn’t be able to get on their own, so it made sense to see where we could collaborate and have their new residency become part of the College of Pharmacy.”
“This residency helps cement pharmacy as a veterinary hospital service with an emphasis on clinical support,” says Forsythe.
Although they are based in Urbana, the veterinary pharmacy resident receives the same support and access to resources as the other UIC Pharmacy residents. The college also assists the hospital with some accreditation and residency requirements, such as providing a human pharmacy experience to help navigate the differences between treating animals and people.
Schriever says this is only the beginning of the partnership. “Looking forward, we’re hoping to do more with interprofessional education between pharmacy students and veterinary students. And there may be other opportunities, such as research. In addition to clinical experts, our college has world-renowned scientists and researchers who could provide another avenue for collaboration.” Other possibilities include offering introductory pharmacy practice experiences and elective didactic courses on veterinary pharmacy.
“It’s an opportunity for us as a college and a university to be different and innovative, capitalizing on what is happening right at our doorstep,” Schriever says. “We like to be trailblazers. We want to be the ones setting the pace and transforming practice.”
Discovering the World of Veterinary Pharmacy Heading link
Schriever says she didn’t learn much about veterinary pharmacy in pharmacy school or as a practicing critical care pharmacist but was informally introduced through her experience living in the Rockford region. “Outside of Rockford, the area is fairly rural and farming is part of the landscape. Many not only have pets but livestock,” she explains. “Learning through my day-to-day conversations, if you have a pet or animal with significant health issues, veterinary teaching hospitals are an option.”
Other pharmacists, like Dr. Lauren Forsythe, who leads the new residency program, and Dr. Alex Gochenauer, who precepts the UIC PharmD students at the veterinary hospital, were introduced to veterinary pharmacy early in their career. Forsythe is the daughter of two veterinarians and watched them treat animals from a young age. Gochenauer says her love of compounding (a very important skill for veterinary pharmacists) got her interested in treating animals.
“Veterinary pharmacy as a concept is only about 40 years old,” says Forsythe. “American Pharmacists Association (APhA) has updated their materials to include nonhumans as patients, but veterinary medicine is typically 10 years behind human medicine. With human pharmacy, there always seems to be a right answer, and vet pharmacy is about getting used to ambiguity.”
The hospital accepts most animal species except for deer (which are treated in their natural habitat) and certain species that are very prone to rabies.
“There are fairly well-published and definitive guidelines for human pharmacy, but with animals we have all these different species, and so there’s always new things to learn as a veterinary pharmacist, and that learning aspect never ends,” says Gochenauer.
Introducing UIC's First Veterinary Pharmacy Resident Heading link
Dr. Jessica Barazowski, the college’s first veterinary pharmacy resident, says she decided to pursue pharmacy after working in an animal clinic. She did a “standard” PGY1 after graduation, but then decided to make the move to veterinary pharmacy after her dog passed away from cancer.
“It helped put in perspective that I really love animals and working with animals, and I wanted to be able to provide that care to them the way I was trained to do so on humans,” Barazowski says.
Barazowski is still in the first few months of her residency, but she is already learning a great deal. “I absolutely love every single day here, and I have never been so motivated to learn. Most of the medications we use for animals were created for humans, and we have to use our pharmacology, pharmacokinetics, and pharmacodynamics brains way more often than for humans. We have to be able to extrapolate the data for a lot of the dosing that we use and do our research to be sure the doses are safe and effective.”
Working with pharmacists like Barazowski also helps veterinarians see the value of having a pharmacist nearby.
“Working alongside incoming veterinarians and having them exposed to what a workflow would be like with a pharmacist helps them recognize our value. Usually, veterinarians would use pharmacists for compounding and not much else, but working with us lets them know they can rely on pharmacists and they don’t have to know everything on their own.”
New Opportunities for UIC PharmD Students Heading link
Dr. Alex Gochenauer works directly with UIC PharmD students as part of their APPE rotations in veterinary pharmacy. She recognizes that most PharmD students will not end up in veterinary pharmacy but ensures they develop skills and knowledge that will make them a better practitioner in any area of pharmacy.
“A lot of people are unaware when they arrive here that we have the same services that a ‘normal’ hospital would have, such as cardiology, neurology, dermatology, oncology, ophthalmology, emergency care, surgery, anesthesia. So, students can take what they’ve learned from different drug classes and apply that to veterinary-specific medications.”
During the rotation, the students write articles advising veterinarians on pharmacy topics and give presentations comparing disease states in animals and humans to help them understand the differences in treatment.
“We love having the PharmD students here,” Gochenauer says. “I’ve been out of school for several years and we discuss guidelines with them for the disease states we’re talking about, and they always give me really nice updates that have been released since I graduated.”
P4 student pharmacist Axel Rios Natal recently completed an APPE rotation at the Urbana hospital. For any students considering a veterinary pharmacy APPE, he says, “If you’re thinking about taking this rotation, take it. It’s going to be a great opportunity. Even if you don’t want to end up in veterinary pharmacy, at some point in our pharmacy careers we’re all going to have to fill a prescription for an animal. So, it’s good to be familiar with how everything works.”