Each Job Every Day: Medication Therapy Management Pharmacists

Medication therapy management (MTM) pharmacists.

While their work is often times as complex as their title, Heidi Burres, PharmD, BCACP, and an MTM pharmacist herself, sums up part of their unique role quite nicely.

“We are a type of pharmacist who doesn’t dispense medication,” she says.

MTM pharmacists work in collaboration with the care team to ensure people with chronic conditions and complex medication schedules are getting the help and guidance they need to manage those medications.

“Our goal is to work directly with patients to help them get the most out of their medications by making sure they are indicated, effective, safe and convenient,” says Heidi. “Patients may be referred to us to help with a specific medication or disease state, but we account for the whole patient, assessing all of their medications and medical conditions.”

Team structure

A small but mighty staff supports the entire system, from Fairview primary care clinics and University of Minnesota Health primary care and specialty clinics to affiliated independent family practice clinics.

Brittany Symonds, PharmD, BCACP, MTM pharmacist, says one of the role’s biggest challenges is ensuring that locations that don’t have an MTM staff member on site still know how to get in touch with one or refer a patient, if needed.

“Our team works hard to keep the MTM service we provide to patients the same across all sites, regardless of location or how the visit is conducted,” says Brittany. “If we are not physically present, then those clinic visits are completed over the phone or through virtual care.”

A day in the life

Most of their consultations do take place in person, though, and their day is spent similar to that of a provider, working at a clinic site and meeting patients one-on-one to discuss their medication questions and concerns.

Beyond patients, MTM pharmacists also serve as a resource to the clinic, answering medication questions from staff and providers and working closely with other team members such as diabetes educators, care coordinators, retail pharmacy colleagues and specialists.

A helping hand

Both Heidi and Brittany said they were drawn to their profession because of a passion for both science and making a difference in the lives of patients.

The guidance they provide can have a profound, lifelong impact. Brittany says she has seen many patients who needed help managing their diabetes, but were terrified of using any injectable medications. She is able to talk with the patient about their fears and concerns in a safe environment and, over time, they become more relaxed and comfortable with their medication regimen.

“You develop a very trusting relationship over time and eventually they overcome their fears,” she says. “I attribute this success to the relationships we build by focusing on our patients’ goals and meeting them where they are.”

“One of the biggest pride points is seeing our patients achieve their own individualized goals,” says Heidi. “I love being able to help people manage and understand the sometimes complicated nature of their medications and watch their quality of life improve.”

For more information on the Fairview MTM program, including its published results showing clinical, economic and patient benefit, click here.

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