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Pharmacy professor seeks change in diabetes care

Pharmacy professor Courtney Davis highlights a program that allows more pharmacists to integrate into the clinical field to help diabetes patients.
UM Communications

Courtney Davis, clinical assistant professor of pharmacy practice at The University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC), is working to improve diabetes patients’ care through a national, multi-site program called Project IMPACT: Diabetes.

The purpose of the program, funded by the American Pharmacists Association Foundation, is to implement better diabetes care in areas that need it the most, like the Mississippi Delta.

In October, Davis made a presentation at the American Diabetes Association’s fifth annual Disparities Partnership Forum in Washington, D.C., about how to integrate more pharmacists into diabetes care.

Davis said she believes pharmacists bring a unique set of skills to both the clinical and the retail pharmacy arena.

“We are the medication experts, but we are also trained in managing patients with diabetes,” Davis said. “In a retail setting, they encounter patients who have questions as well, so our expertise affects a lot of our population.”

There are 71 patients currently enrolled in the project, which practices at the Diabetes Care Group in Jackson, according to Ole Miss News. Patients receive at least three visits a year with at least three months between each visit.

During their appointments, pharmacists check certain factors, including systolic and diastolic blood pressures, and give comprehensive eye exams and diabetic foot exams.

According to Davis, who is part of the program’s pharmacist team, weight loss is the hardest lifestyle change for most diabetic patients. She said she believes that empowering patients will make the disease easier to manage.

“Once our patient goes home, we can’t control them,” she said. “So empowering them to make those changes makes it not as hard.”

Dr. Leigh Ann Ross, associate dean for clinical affairs, said she believes it is Davis’ caring and engaging spirit that makes her relationship with her patients so special.

“She had an ability to connect with patients,” Ross said. “She is very good at working with patients and empowering them to help them take care of themselves.”

Davis said she hopes other pharmacists outside UMMC will implement this model in their communities.

Brianna Mills, a pharmacy senior, said she believes pharmacists should be more personal and interactive to improve health care.

“A lot of people see us as, see the pharmacist, get your medication and go home,” Mills said. “They don’t really talk to the pharmacists. They can really impact their overall outcome in more ways that are better than making sure they are taking their medication.”