August 18, 2006

Transplant meds at heart of new residency program

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Patient Pete Garrett discusses his medications with Jennifer Fosnot, Pharm. D., a pharmacy transplant resident, in the Stem Cell Transplant outpatient clinic.
Photo by Dana Johnson

Transplant meds at heart of new residency program

The Vanderbilt Transplant Center and the Department of Pharmacy have teamed to create a Transplant Pharmacy Residency Program, one of just 11 such programs in the nation.

“This kind of program is becoming increasingly popular,” said Christie Buchanan, clinical transplant pharmacist for the Transplant Center. “In pharmacy school, we are not typically taught about transplant medications. Recently the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) guidelines called for a clinical pharmacist to be a part of the transplant team.

“With all the drug interactions and research that is going on within transplantation, there is a great need for trained pharmacists in this area.”

Buchanan will train residents who want to specialize in transplant medicine. Vanderbilt's multi-organ transplant center will provide residents a well-rounded experience, said Ed Zavala, Transplant Center administrator.

“The candidates for this one residency spot came from so many different parts of the country. This is an area we are very interested in expanding. We could use more than one full-time transplant pharmacist.”

The transplant pharmacist rounds with the transplant or medical team in the hospital, participates in medication education with patients, works with the nursing staff on medication administration and side effects as well as assisting in the various transplant clinics precepting pharmacy students and residents, writing protocols, evaluating costs and supporting research efforts.

Jennifer Fosnot, Pharm. D., the first resident to participate in the Vanderbilt program, is a graduate of the Vanderbilt Pharmacy Practice Program. She has always wanted to work with patients and physicians. The yearlong program will allow Fosnot to rotate through the various transplant specialties.

“I really wanted to be prepared as a pharmacist in solid organ transplantation,” Fosnot said. “After this year, I'll be very well prepared for a job in this field. It's important that patients have someone to talk to about medications. Nurse practitioners and floor nurses are an important part of the inpatient medication teaching, and will continue to work with the patient on medications. I will be able to help our patients both in the hospital and in the clinics.”

The Transplant Pharmacy Residency Program was made possible by a grant from Astellas Pharma U.S. Inc.

Both the Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt and Vanderbilt University Hospital each have bone marrow transplant pharmacists on staff.