When Lubna Kousa graduated with a doctor of pharmacy degree from The University of Findlay in May 2012, she headed to Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Md., to begin a 12-month pharmacy practice residency.
Kousa’s residency focused on community practice, giving her exposure to a wide variety of patient populations, including geriatrics, pediatrics, oncology, HIV, Hepatitis C and others. An administrative and management component was incorporated into the residency, as well, which included spending time with the director of pharmacy and participating in administrative committees and projects.
Johns Hopkins offers specialized clinics specifically for each patient population; as Kousa rotated through the various clinics, she discovered that she especially enjoys working with the geriatric population.
“All of the populations were very unique,” she said. “It wasn’t something we get exposed to in school. It was unique and interesting to work with patients living with HIV and Hepatitis C, and I really enjoyed the geriatrics populations. It was one of my favorite clinics.”
Kousa helped to actively manage patients’ medications by making sure the medications work well together and by making sure patients are taking them correctly.
In addition, Kousa did home visits to patients following discharge from the hospital to help prevent readmission by managing patients’ medications.
Throughout the entire residency, as part of a research project, Kousa worked on developing a medication therapy management (MTM) clinic. Through MTM, patients get a one-hour, face-to-face visit with a pharmacist to review all medications and any medication-related problems. Pharmacists work with patients to remedy any problems, contact prescribing doctors if needed, recommend changes or adjustments and help patients manage multiple medications with a calendar and pill organizer.
Patients are welcome to follow up with the MTM clinic as needed. Most are referred to the clinic by a physician, and most patients are managing multiple diseases. Kousa noted that Medicare does reimburse pharmacists for this service, so many populations in need are able to utilize it, including the low-income, inner-city population of Baltimore.
Kousa is continuing her career at Johns Hopkins in a full-time position as a clinical coordinator at one of the hospital’s outpatient pharmacies. According to Kousa, the pharmacy manages and serves ambulatory care patients and also serves outpatient clinics for patients with chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and heart failure.
In that role, Kousa helps develop MTM services for international patients who were referred by physicians and need help managing their chronic disease states.
She also will begin a role as a visiting lecturer at the University of Maryland, talking to student groups once a month. Kousa will be a preceptor for students, as well. Through her residency, she had the option of earning a teaching certificate from the University of Maryland, and she took it.
“I’m excited about the teaching role. That was one thing I didn’t see myself doing any time soon,” she said, “but earning the certificate was great.”