Professional Advice / Opinions:

A Day in the Life of a Cardiac Care Unit Pharmacist

By: Dr. Manouchkathe Cassagnol

Dr. Manouchkathe Cassagnol is an Assistant Clinical Professor at St. John’s University College of Pharmacy and Allied Health Professions and a Clinical Coordinator of Internal Medicine and Cardiology Pharmacotherapy at Long Island Jewish Medical Center.

About 81 million people in this country suffer from cardiovascular disease. Therefore, as pharmacy practitioners, we will all be providing care for many of these patients, either through health-systems, ambulatory care clinics, or community pharmacies. My clinical rotation at Long Island Jewish Medical Center (LIJMC) is a 14-bed cardiac care unit (CCU) that provides intensive care for patients suffering from acute coronary syndromes, acute decompensated heart failure, and cardiac arrhythmias.

Student pharmacists will be incorporated as part of an interdisciplinary team of cardiology faculty and fellows, medical residents, nurses and nurse practitioners, and physician assistants. Pharmacy students engage in discussions (about clinical pathology of heart disease and the pharmacology of cardiovascular treatment), collaborate with various healthcare professionals (to tailor pharmacotherapy), and provide education (to patients, families and other allied health professionals). During educational rounds, students will have opportunities to interact with patients and providers, see minor bedside procedures, and view/discuss cardiac monitor and various cardiac procedure findings (catherizations, ECGs, etc).

Part of this rotation helps to highlight the impact that pharmacists have on medication compliance and adherence. Students can also be involved in activities surrounding a patient’s discharge from the hospital. It is often the case that patients come into the institution without ever being on medications. After certain procedures, these patients are often placed various medications that will help protect their heart. This time of transition is where we, as pharmacists, can help patients navigate the difficult landscape.

From the time students walk through the doors of LIJMC to the time the leave, they are engulfed in an environment that places patients’ needs first and learning second. These two elements help to build students’ empathy and compassion for patients, and allow them to hone their skills as future practitioners.

Published by Rho Chi Post
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