Working Together as a Team
Problem-Solver Elisheva Friedman, PharmD, BCGP, Touro College of Pharmacy '17, Practices Interprofessional Collaboration to Meet Challenges in Long-Term Care Pharmacy
TCOP Alum Elisheva Friedman is the A.M. Lead Pharmacist at Care One Pharmacy Services L.L.C., a long-term care pharmacy in the Chicago area servicing assisted living and skilled nursing facilities around the Midwest. No two days on the job are alike, as she directs a team of pharmacists navigating all operational and clinical pharmacy services for clients while collaborating with doctors, nurses and other professionals to get patients what they need.
How did you become interested in a career in pharmacy?
Since about tenth grade, I knew that I wanted a career in the healthcare field, but I wasn't sure what niche would be the best fit for me. While I was studying abroad in Michlalah Jerusalem College, via Touro's Lander College for Women (LCW) Israel option, Touro offered its matriculating undergraduates a career test to guide course selection. I was surprised to see "pharmacist" at the top of the list! Touro LCW's career counselor, Sarri Singer, advised me to spend time in a pharmacy to see if I liked it. I spent the summer following my sophomore undergraduate year volunteering at a hospital pharmacy - and I was sold.
Why did you choose Touro?
During my junior and senior undergraduate years, I had the privilege of conducting research in Dr. Zvi Loewy's lab. While doing research at TCOP, I noticed that the professors took the time to know their students, and that the students would be there for each other when preparing for exams. I appreciated that TCOP was involved in giving back to the community, and encouraged the student pharmacists to use their knowledge and skills to benefit the lives of others beyond their formal jobs. And of course, as an Orthodox Jew, I greatly appreciated the fact that exam schedules took Shabbat and Jewish holidays into account, so that I never had to compromise my religious observance or academic passion.
What is your current position and can you describe a day in your life on the job?
I am A.M. Lead Pharmacist at Care One Pharmacy Services LLC, a long-term care (LTC) pharmacy in the Chicago area servicing about 60 assisted living facilities (ALFs) and skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) around the Midwest. No two days on the job are alike! As a lead pharmacist, I direct a daily team of pharmacists who navigate all operational and clinical pharmacy services for our ALFs and SNFs. We check prescriptions, dose and monitor IV antibiotics, provide prescribers with therapy recommendations, assist SNF administrators in selecting appropriate lower-cost medications, compound IV and topical products, and more. I also serve as a consultant pharmacist for Care One periodically.
What are some of the challenges and what do you like about it?
This role involves a lot of problem-solving. For example, Care One services facilities over six hours away - a nurse in Missouri can call to notify us that a resident needs to start an uncommon IV antibiotic STAT. While we do provide our SNFs with contingency IV boxes, this medication is not included. How can we get the patient his med in a timely manner? We handle situations like this multiple times a day. The stress level gets high when the team of pharmacists is juggling multiple urgent issues on top of the operational pharmacy workflow, but the beauty of LTC is that the pharmacists work together as a team.
Another challenge is fielding questions that you don't know the answer to right away. "Let me look that up and get back to you!" This is our refrain when serving as the drug information resource to our SNFs and ALFs. I love that I am always learning something new on the job. Although it wasn't required for my position, I challenged myself to attain Board Certified Geriatric Pharmacy (BCGP) certification to be able to provide my patients with superior care.
How did TCOP prepare you for your professional role?
TCOP prepared me for my role by stressing the importance of interprofessional communication. Doctors, nurses, therapists, directors of nursing - we're all on the same team, and all have the goal of providing our patients with optimal care. When speaking with upset or stressed healthcare professionals on the phone, we deescalate by validating their concerns, and then demonstrating that we want the same outcome as they do and will go to any length to help our mutual patients. And then we do. All healthcare roles are valuable, and it is key to recognize and be able to communicate that to establish positive professional relationships to benefit your patients.