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Pharmacist honored with clinical award 

by Roby Hill
S.C. College of Pharmacy (MUSC campus)
Andrea Wessell, PharmD, wanted to be a pharmacist since high school when she saw pharmacists, who happened to be family friends, interacting with patients. Her inspiration led her to become a pharmacist and more. Wessell was chosen to receive the 2008 New Clinical Practitioner Award from the American College of Clinical Pharmacy (ACCP).
The ACCP award was announced in November. Wessell, assistant professor of Clinical Pharmacy and Outcome Sciences (CPOS) at the South Carolina College of Pharmacy (SCCP), MUSC campus, will be presented the award April 6 during the opening general session of the ACCP Spring Practice and Research Forum in Phoenix.
“She epitomizes what a new, young practitioner who is educated and doing research should be doing in primary care, and she is doing it for the right reasons, based on evidence,” said Wayne Weart, PharmD, SCCP CPOS professor.
The award recognizes a new clinical practitioner who has made outstanding contributions to the health of patients and/or the practice of clinical pharmacy. The award recipient must have been a full member of ACCP at the time of nomination and have completed his or her terminal training or degree less than six years previously.
“With the advent of these new national ACCP awards, we are gratified to honor outstanding ACCP members who have excelled early in their careers,” said Michael S. Maddux, ACCP executive director. “As the inaugural recipient of the new clinical practitioner award, Dr. Wessell will forever be recognized for achieving an important first in clinical pharmacy.”
Wessell, who joined MUSC’s pharmacy faculty in 2002, practices in the Family Medicine Center and participates in rounds with the Family Medicine Inpatient Service providing education and consultation to attending physicians, residents and students.
“She is very concerned about patients,” said Terry Soltis, Family Medicine pharmacist-in-charge. “She’s always willing to work as a team and she is very organized and energetic.”
Wessell has worked with clinicians in the Department of Family Medicine to obtain American Diabetes Association certification to become a provider for group visits and shared medical visits.
 “It is a group activity and all three of us [colleagues and fellow faculty members Kelly Ragucci and Sarah Shrader] act as educators for the practice through a series of visits,” Wessell said. “We meet with the patient during the intake visit, then a physician leads a group class. We  meet with the patients to make any medication adjustments. We also are in the process of following the outcomes.”
As the clinical pharmacist for the Practice Partner Research Network (PPRNet), a practice-based research network of primary care physicians, Wessell also has influenced practices nationwide. PPRNet has 144 physician practices representing more than 700 health care providers, and about 1.8 million patients in 38 states. Wessell currently is the only clinical pharmacist supporting the network.
“The doctors in the network love her and love talking to her,” said Steve Ornstein, professor, Department of Family Medicine, who helped establish PPRNet. “She’s changed a lot of minds out there and helped them adapt to evidence-based practices. Clinical pharmacy is ubiquitous here, but as I got out around the country talking to people, I found it wasn’t really the case everywhere.”
In addition, Wessell is very involved in providing care to underserved patients by helping to coordinate volunteer pharmacist coverage at one of the community’s free clinics. An inter-disciplinary team goes to Crisis Ministries in downtown Charleston every Wednesday night. The students, both medical and pharmacy, help with the acute care needs of the patients, aid in medicine selection as well as dispensing medicine and counseling patients.
“I don’t think there is anybody that deserves the award more than Andrea,” said Shrader, CPOS assistant professor. Shrader was Wessell’s first resident in her first year as an advisor. “Andrea made me feel welcome, coming to a place far from home; and she counseled me throughout the whole year. She takes the extra time to identify not only if the patient has, say, diabetes; she is empathetic towards the patient and is able to communicate with them and build rapport.”
Her ability to relate was clear during a recent PPRNet Continuing Medical Education cruise. Speaking to a group of 30-40 physicians in the ship’s large dining room, Wessell gave a presentation from a pharmacist’s perspective on what is new in diabetes and cardiovascular care. Ornstein noted that along with the physicians in the audience, the chefs, waiters, catering crew and maintenance staff stopped to listen, too.
A native of Raleigh, N. C., Wessell earned her Doctor of Pharmacy with honors at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill in 2000. She completed her pharmacy practice residency at the University of Colorado Hospital and Health Sciences Center in Denver in June 2001 before completing a primary care specialty residency with an emphasis in family medicine at MUSC in June 2002.


Friday, Jan. 11, 2008
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