Most recently, Luke reached Bethel in October. It was the operation of pharmacy practice in a different culture and the unique challenges of working in rural Alaska that struck him the most. Hunting, fishing, and other methods of subsistence living are prevalent parts of Yup’ik life, and the associated resource and travel limitations due to life in the villages required that pharmacists and students such as Luke lead follow-up appointments by phone. Methods to ensure safe use of analgesics largely involved a collaboration between pharmacists and health aides at clinics in the villages, while distribution and inventory had to be closely regulated. Working within such a team-based approach to patient care and observing the hospital overcome the challenges of working with controlled substances in a decentralized way provided great insight and creativity for Luke to implement in his future practice.
The major project of Luke’s rotation, authoring a pharmacist-driven collaborative practice agreement for pain management at YKHC, fell perfectly in line with his passion to drive forward the profession of clinical pharmacy and increase opportunities for pharmacists to utilize their full potential. Additionally, Luke had the opportunity to educate the public on pharmacy and diabetes via a question and answer session for American Pharmacists Month on the region’s radio station. He also was able to sit in on ethics committee and human studies committee meetings which addressed issues of MAT for specific YKHC patients and analyzed in-progress clinical studies of the unique population of Alaska natives.
In between working at the hospital, Luke volunteered with the diabetes team for the Bethel Zombie Run 5K and also got involved with a local church with whom he participated in small groups and potlucks. He also had the opportunity to go hiking in Anchorage.
Starting this June, Luke will begin his PGY1 pharmacy residency at UnityPoint Health-Meriter Hospital in Madison, WI. He then plans to specialize by pursuing a PGY2 and hopes to become a clinical pharmacist working in a hybrid of inpatient and outpatient settings, preceptor for students and residents, and clinical instructor at the university level.