Pharmacy students get chance to learn about addiction medicine

By Francie Williamson, Communications Coordinator, Department of Psychiatry

During her early days as a student at the UI College of Pharmacy, Shelby Reid went to a substance use disorder conference in Utah, which she says piqued her interest in addiction medicine.

So, when she found out there was an elective rotation available for pharmacy students at the Medications for Addiction Treatment (MAT) Clinic at UI Hospitals & Clinics, Reid scrambled to switch her schedule around.

“It gives students the chance to be part of a tight-knit group of professionals. Everyone is very welcoming and make students feel heard,” Reid says of the rotation. “It’s a great learning environment and you get to see a more unique population.”

A different perspective

Benjamin Miskle, PharmD, who set up the rotation, is a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Pharmacy Practice and Science at the UI College of Pharmacy who works side-by-side with faculty and staff from the Department of Psychiatry in the outpatient clinics. This year, he has had nine fourth-year pharmacy students work at the MAT clinic for five weeks each.

Miskle says having students rotate through the MAT clinic helps decrease the stigma of addiction.

“Even a student that may want to go work in oncology or another specialty, they’re going to have the experience of working with this patient population and be able to see the patient’s perspective from a different point of view,” Miskle says.

A collaborative experience

Miskle, who specialized in psychiatry during his pharmacy residency at the Chillicothe VA Medical Center in Ohio, says it’s not that common for pharmacists to pursue the field, but it’s growing.

“In Iowa, there’s only one residency program for pharmacy for psychiatry, and that’s here at the VA, so there are only one or two trained psychiatric pharmacists coming out of the state each year,” Miskle says.

Miskle says the students who have rotated in the MAT clinic have really enjoyed the experience, and their comments most often mention how collaborative the experience is.

“They always say this is one of the most collaborative teams they’ve ever worked with,” Miskle says. “I think that’s a huge thing a lot of people don’t realize, is how important collaboration of care really is in order to run a good clinic.”

Wednesday, November 3, 2021