Cardinal Health employs many pharmacists in both our Pharmaceutical and Medical Segments to serve the spectrum of patient care – including the hospital, the physician office, the pharmacy, and the home.
During American Pharmacists Month, we are pleased to share insights from Cheri Schmit, RPh, Senior Manager of Clinical Programs, and Naveen Mansukhani, BPharm, National Operations Director for Cardinal Health Retail Pharmacy Services. Schmit and Mansukhani recently spoke with Pharmacy Times to share their perspective on the evolution of the profession, the expanded scope of the services offered by pharmacists, and the valuable role pharmacists provide as part of the patient’s care team.
Naveen Mansukhani on profound change in the pharmacy profession
In his current role, Mansukhani works with both federally qualified health centers and hospital-based (outpatient) retail pharmacies. He also oversees specialty pharmacy accreditation services, operations for MMS Solutions in Lavergne, TN, and a centralized filling location in Los Angeles that sends prescriptions to clinics or directly to the patient’s home.
Mansukhani’s start in pharmacy was as a cashier at a drugstore in the greater New York/New Jersey area. While there, he worked in the pharmacy department and gained experience in a 24/7 pharmacy, inspiring him to enter pharmacy school. After graduating from Rutgers University in 2001, Mansukhani advanced his career serving in leadership roles in retail pharmacy, before transitioning to Cardinal Health to lead retail operations in the hospital environment.
Throughout his career, he has seen incredible growth and changes in the pharmacy profession.
”When I graduated, we had just started talking about pharmaceutical care – the value of the pharmacist talking to a patient, helping the patient understand why they're taking their medication, and increasing compliance rates with medication,” Mansukhani said. “As time has gone on, so much more has evolved with immunizations, medication therapy management, and pharmacists’ involvement in specialty treatments.”
Mansukhani said the interactions pharmacists have with patients are a critical moment in their care journey and the impact of those interactions demonstrates the valuable contributions pharmacists make as part of a patient’s healthcare team.
“We actually get to see patients and have an overall impact in public health. And that's the most rewarding part about my job…to see the impact that a pharmacist can make on a patient every single day.”
Cheri Schmit on the expanding scope of pharmacy patient care
Schmit works with community pharmacies across the country. She also had the opportunity to meet pharmacists in her home state and connect with other state pharmacy associations and organizations – including the National Alliance of State Pharmacy Associations (NASPA) and the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) – during her term as president of the Iowa Pharmacy Association.
Schmit began her pharmacy career when a high school career aptitude test correctly predicted she should pursue roles in the healthcare profession, leading her to an opportunity shadowing the community pharmacist in her hometown and sparking her passion for pharmacy.
“I grew up in a very rural area, so there was only one pharmacist in the entire county. I went and spent the day with him, and at the end of the day I was just really fascinated – pharmacy was much different than what I thought it was,” Schmit said. “Seeing how he cared for people, and how he was [offering patients] cradle-to-grave care was very interesting to me. I really kind of fell in love with it in high school and that directed me to go to pharmacy school in college.”
Over her career, Schmit has seen the scope of clinical opportunities available to pharmacists expand, demonstrating their full value as healthcare providers.
“Pharmacists have always been healthcare providers…and always had a relationship with their patients,” Schmit explained. “The biggest change is that we're starting to see legislation that allows pharmacists to do what we are trained to do, catching up to the knowledge and training that pharmacists have. Pharmacists are providing expanded scope and care to patients, including immunizations and point of care testing, allowing them to…play a larger role in the patient's care team.”
Schmit said the expanded scope of care and the elevated role pharmacists now have on a patient’s care team has enabled them to become valuable liaisons helping patients navigate their care, providing valuable education, and monitoring health outcomes.
“Oftentimes, patients have so many different providers; they may not know which one to go to or maybe they don't have a provider at all, and they're just using urgent care,” she said. “The pharmacist is the glue that helps hold everything together for patients. The role they play in their communities goes so much further than healthcare.”