Susan Mead, Pharm.D., Director of The Apothecary at the University of Colorado School of Pharmacy, manages the university’s pharmacies in Boulder, Colorado including the Wardenburg Health Center Apothecary and the Boulder Health Center Pharmacy. Her pharmacies serve primarily CU students, staff and faculty.

She began her career in pharmacy over 35 years ago on the same CU Boulder campus. While attending a seminar offered by the School of Pharmacy, she decided to change her major to pharmacy because of her interests in “science, math and people.”

Practicing initially in hospital pharmacies (Swedish Medical Center and Saint Joseph Hospital) in Denver, Dr. Mead transitioned to a long-term care consulting group in Boulder and then to Wardenburg in the 1990s. She then joined the PharMerica consulting group for 15 years, earned her Pharm.D. in 2005 from the University of Colorado Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences and stepped into her current role at The Apothecary in 2009.

Value Pharmacists spoke with Dr. Mead about collaborative opportunities at CU as the Colorado  State Board of Pharmacy approved collaborative pharmacy practice statewide protocols for self-administered hormonal contraception and smoking cessation therapy in March 2017.

How were you involved with the legislative and regulatory process making this possible?

We worked in cooperation with others in the School of Pharmacy, specifically Dr. Gina Moore, Assistant Dean of Clinical and Professional Affairs, and Emily Zadvorny who solicited our input on what we’d seen in the field at The Apothecary with our student population.

How do you see these changes benefiting the profession of pharmacy and your practice?

These protocols will

allow pharmacists to “get out [from behind the counter]” to provide patient care allowing us to counsel patients in the field and in the community.

There are both clinical and business benefits which also benefit patients in their understanding. Pharmacists can direct patients regarding the pros & cons and how their insurance may or may not pay for contraceptive meds. Not all insurance plans may accept their contraceptive choice. The ability to bill “medical” for pharmacists’ time enables the pharmacy business to benefit and fund these expenses of clinical services.

What steps have you taken or are planning to take to implement these changes in your pharmacy?

Pharmacists have signed up for training with a CU and Oregon State University co-marketed 4 hour training module which includes didactic and testing for collaborative practice.

Preparation for a pilot program is underway. CU is allocating space to remodel for a private consulting room including a counseling area and “mechanics” of computers, drug information and forms. Using the “U.S. Medical Eligibility Criteria for Contraceptive Use” chart from the CDC, The Apothecary will organize contraceptives to show patients and follow the chart to determine contra-indications and complete communication forms and referrals for the providers in the “Sexual and Reproductive Health Clinic upstairs, if needed.”

We’ll test with this population and plan a full roll out in the fall of 2017.

The hormonal contraception protocol is limited to pills and patches. Would you like to see the scope expanded? If so, how?

Yes. Depo shots. The School of Pharmacy is working on addition of this medication. Other forms such as IUDs and implants are administered through the Sexual and Reproductive Health Clinic.

What about smoking cessation therapies?

Smoking cessation is a protocol we’ll review later. We don’t dispense much in smoking cessation. Community Health clinics on campus would be involved in this initiative.

Many believe that these two protocols are just a start for increasing the pharmacist’s scope of practice in Colorado. What other statewide protocols would you like to see?

The CU Boulder population faces several barriers. Students’ providers “aren’t here”, they’re out-of-state making it time consuming and hard to get refills. The population is constantly changing as are insurance coverages. Vacation and travel supplies with students off-campus for several months (semester at sea or a year abroad) and insurance co-pays often lead to out-of-pocket expenditures.

The Apothecary is less threatening and more accessible to CU students and no appointment is needed.  Additional protocols to benefit these patients include

  • vaccinations (currently pharmacy)
  • travel meds especially international (using CDC resources) (protocol at Wardenburg Clinic)
  • influenza testing and prescribing of therapy (protocol at Wardenburg Clinic)
  • testing partner therapies for STDs  (Sexual and Reproductive Health Clinic)

Another initiative Dr. Mead is pursuing for collaborative therapy management involves the pharmacy students at the University of Colorado Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences. Those who are fortunate enough to spend a rotation at The Apothecary will be exposed early in their career to working in a collaborative environment. As they graduate to practice, these pharmacists will have the skills and knowledge to collaborate immediately.  If you’re considering initiating a collaborative practice, The Apothecary may be your best resource.

Collaborative practice agreements and protocols are predicted to be a significant component of pharmacy practice in the future. Share with Value Pharmacists how YOU and your pharmacy are preparing for collaborative medication therapy management and statewide protocols.

For more information on enhanced services and collaborative practice, contact Dr. Mead ( or 303-492-8553) or email Val.

Images courtesy of the University of Colorado Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.
Considering Collaborative Practice? Consider CU’s Apothecary!

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