by Melanie Evans

When the University’s first class of pharmaceutical trainees starts its clinical rounds this summer, they’ll have a little more elbow room.
In a partnership approved by the Academic Health Center-Fairview policy committee, the College of Pharmacy received the go-ahead to integrate six of Fairview Health System’s pharmacies into their professional doctorate curriculum over the next two years.
The partnership is an extension of an agreement reached last year that also included a merger between Fairview Health Systems and University Hospital.
In addition to the Fairview sites, students will receive training at seven independent retail pharmacies, expanding their campus as far north as Bemidji, Minn., and as far south as Northfield, Minn.
Fairview’s first retail pharmacy opened in 1989 at Fairview Southdale Hospital. The Minneapolis-based health care network now owns 14 retail sites. Included are two on the University’s Twin Cities campus, which were integrated under the Fairview and University hospital merger of 1997.
With 63 students prepared to begin rotations this summer, the current number of clerkships available proved inadequate, said Dr. Marilyn Speedie, dean of the College of Pharmacy. The partnership alleviates the possibility of a bottleneck resulting from a lack of available training sites, she said.
Dr. Frank Cerra, president of the Academic Health Center, heralded the agreement as an example of the health system’s commitment to their newly integrated educational mission.
“This program is an educational endeavor that Fairview is participating in which serves the entire state,” Cerra said.
Under the terms approved Thursday, the College of Pharmacy, Fairview and the Academic Health Center will each foot a third of the operating costs. Cerra estimates a contribution by each party of $300,000 over three years.
The partnership is an excellent example of why Fairview and the University came together in the first place, said Jeanne Lally, Fairview’s vice president for continuum services.
The University’s professional degree in pharmacology, introduced in 1995, complements the health network’s changing needs, Lally said. In turn, Fairview can contribute resources to the University’s training program.
Fairview’s focus began to shift three years ago in response to a booming and increasingly complicated pharmaceutical industry, she said. Pharmacists now need skills to offset the complexity of the health care environment, Lally said.
The health system directed its focus beyond simply dispensing drugs to the management of medicine, Lally said.
Misuse of prescription drugs is a major source of return visits to clinics, trips to the emergency room and second prescriptions, said Bob Beacher, Fairview’s director for retail pharmacy services.
With close monitoring and patient counseling, Fairview hopes to reduce the costs associated with repeat patients and increase patient satisfaction, he said.
The University’s new model of pharmaceutical care increases the pharmacist’s role in monitoring and evaluating prescribed medicine.
Students will begin their rotations in June. They are required to complete 10 five-week rotations in a variety of settings — hospitals, retail sites, clinics and patient’s homes — as a graduation requirement.
Four Fairview pharmacies will make the transition to part-time educational facilities this year, with two more to follow in 1999.
Retail sites will undergo renovations to add secluded areas for confidential patient counseling, Beacher said. Patients with complex drug therapies or private health concerns are uncomfortable with an over-the-counter conversation with their pharmacists, he said.
The pharmacies will also integrate computers and the necessary software to store medical records and track patients’ nutrition and health habits.
And Fairview employees will also be asked to make changes to the way they operate.
Fairview pharmacists are not contracted to be educators, said Penny Lepinski, director of experiential education for the college of pharmacy. To prepare for student oversight, Fairview staff will receive training at the University this spring. The college will also hire two additional professors for the program.