Pharmacy professor leads antibiotic stewardship program at Williamson Medical Center recognized in national report

WilliamsMediumDr. Montgomery Williams, Assistant Professor of Pharmacy Practice, is providing leadership to an effort at Williamson Medical Center (WMC) in Franklin, Tennessee to curb unnecessary antibiotic use, an initiative recently recognized in a report published by The Pew Charitable Trusts.  Dr. Williams was quoted earlier this week by The Tennessean in a story about the success of the antibiotic program.

Dr. Williams serves at Williamson Medical Center as part of her teaching responsibilities at Belmont University College of Pharmacy, educating PharmD students in their advanced practice experiences at the medical center during their final year of study.   As an internal medicine and antibiotic stewardship pharmacist at WMC, she provides extensive training in general medicine to students throughout the year as they complete month-long rotations at the medical center.  Like all Pharmacy Practice faculty in the College of Pharmacy, Dr. Williams divides her time between the classroom at Belmont and her community site where she mentors student pharmacists who are near completion of their doctoral degree.  Those students participate in the antibiotic program during their rotation with Dr. Williams.

At Williamson Medical Center, where Dr. Williams has practiced for the past six years, she is the co-chair of the Antimicrobial Stewardship Program along with Dr. Shaefer Spires, an antibiotic stewardship physician and hospital epidemiologist.  Other health professionals involved in the program at WMC include Dr. Courtney (Curtis) Sutton, pediatric pharmacist (2013 PharmD graduate from Belmont); Dr. Michael Wright, critical care pharmacist; and Dr. Tracey Bastian, clinical pharmacy manager.  In her role as chair, Dr. Williams coordinates ongoing efforts to evaluate how the hospital prescribes antibiotics and work with physicians in developing appropriate treatment plans for patients.   “Presenting recommendations to physicians can be challenging — you really have to work together as a team,”  Williams said in the Tennessean. “We always want what’s best for the patient.”

Also quoted in the Tennessean was Dr. David Hyun, senior officer of Pew Charitable Trusts’ antibiotic resistance project, which published the report. “Williamson Medical Center is a great example of how a program can be tailored to the needs of a community hospital,” said Hyun, who developed and co-chaired a stewardship program at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C.  “Efforts to use antibiotics appropriately are not only about reducing resistance but ensuring patients get the right care.”

The full report can be found at

College of Health Sciences & Nursing and College of Pharmacy Collaborate on Interprofessional Lab Simulation

Belmont’s School of Nursing and College of Pharmacy recently collaborated to demonstrate and educate students on their crucial roles in preventing medical errors. Collaboration and communication between health care professionals has been identified as one of the most important aspects of reducing errors and Belmont’s collaborative partnerships illustrates the University’s commitment to preparing its students for their careers.

The inaugural pilot program’s coordinator Dr. Anthony Blash, assistant professor in the College of Pharmacy said the collaboration between nurses and pharmacists allows for identification of potential medication errors, furthering the field’s ability to eliminate errors. Some of the technology available at the bedside to prevent errors and promote patient safety includes medication dispensing cabinets, electronic health records, patient identification through electronic scanners and infusion safety software that provides “dose error reduction.” Each of these is utilized in Belmont’s School of Nursing but, prior to this pilot, pharmacy students and nursing had not collaborated in the reduction of medical errors.

(L to R: Drs. Blash and Hallmark)

L to R: Drs. Blash and Hallmark

Blash and Dr. Beth Fentress Hallmark, director of simulation in the College of Health Sciences & Nursing, provided simulation-based education to first-year pharmacy students in pharmacy’s “Introduction to Drug Information and Informatics” course.

“I know this makes a difference in the professional lives of these pharmacy students,” Hallmark said. “The most powerful comment was when one of the students said she did not realize that nursing students knew so much about medication. Dr. Blash said it best when he talked about the ‘us’ vs ‘them’ mentality in healthcare and how it must be a ‘we’ mentality… this is what prevents medical error.”

Several nursing, business and pharmacy faculty participated in this initiative including Sara Camp, Jean Blank, PJ Ambrefe, Victoria Buechel, Dr. Tammy Legge, Dr. David Wyant and Dr. Kate Claussen.

Pharmacy Students Earn Certification to Conduct HIV Testing

In an effort to end HIV/AIDS in Tennessee, 17 Belmont University College of Pharmacy students recently volunteered and received intensive training in HIV prevention counseling and testing. The Tennessee Department of Health certified these students who will be using their newly acquired skills to serve communities around Nashville through HIV testing, education and prevention during the annual Walgreens National HIV Testing Days event scheduled for June 23-25.

Dr. Edgar S. Diaz-Cruz is leading the initiative, first started in 2013, and has forged an ongoing partnership between the College of Pharmacy and Nashville Cares, a local non-profit that provides life-saving services to Middle Tennesseans living with HIV/AIDS. Diaz-Cruz said, “I am very proud of our students for volunteering to reach out of their comfort zones to serve the community by bringing attention to HIV/AIDS education. I believe this type of training and personal outreach exposes our students to unique experiences to better serve the public and represent BU.” Since 2013, this partnership has resulted in 44 trained individuals and hundreds of community service outreach hours serving Middle Tennessee.

Tennessee Health Care Hall of Fame Announces 2016 Inductees

Hall of Fame’s second class represents Tennessee’s greatest health and health care pioneers

The Tennessee Health Care Hall of Fame announced the six health care professionals selected as the Hall of Fame’s second class of inductees at a luncheon held on Belmont University’s campus Tuesday. With a mission to honor men and women who have made significant and lasting contributions to the health and health care industries, the Hall of Fame was created by Belmont University and the McWhorter Society and is supported by the Nashville Health Care Council, a Hall of Fame Founding Partner.

Chair of the McWhorter Society and Chairman of Medcare Investment Funds Dr. Harry Jacobson said, “This group of six individuals embodies some of the greatest talent our state has ever seen. With representatives from all corners of Tennessee who have made a significant impact on their communities through their work as leaders, practitioners, executives and scientists, the Hall of Fame is honored to name such a deserving group of health care legends as inductees.”

The nomination process began in January and was open to practitioners, executives, entrepreneurs, mentors, teachers, scientists, researchers, innovators or any person with a connection to the health or health care field. Nominees must have:

  • Been born, lived or have worked in Tennessee
  • Made a significant impact and lasting contribution to health care at the local, state, national or international level
  • Exhibit the highest ethical and professional character
  • Serve as an outstanding role model in their community

Among the more than 35 highly qualified candidates nominated, the inductees were reviewed by a Selection Committee made up of health and health care leaders from across the state. Selected inductees represent some of Tennessee’s greatest health and health care pioneers, leaders and innovators.

Inducted individuals include:

  • Jack Bovender: Retired Chairman and CEO of Hospital Corporation of America, Member of the National Health Care Hall of Fame, Credited with the rescue of patients in an HCA hospital during Hurricane Katrina
  • Dr. Stanley Cohen: Recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in medicine and physiology, Faculty Member at Washington University and Professor of Biochemistry at Vanderbilt, Completed research on epidermal growth factors that contributed to discoveries for individual cancer and immune system dysfunction therapiesDr. Colleen Conway-Welch: Dean Emerita of Vanderbilt University School of Nursing, Past Nashvillian of the Year, Served on President Reagan’s Commission on HIV Epidemic and the National Bipartisan Commissions of the Future of Medicare, Founder of Friends of the National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Nursing Research
  • Dr. Henry Foster: Professor Emeritus and Former Dean of Meharry College’s School of Medicine, Clinical Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Vanderbilt University, President Clinton’s Senior Advisor on Teen Pregnancy Reduction and youth Issues, Pioneered a national model for regionalized perinatal health care systems
  • Dr. Frank Groner: President Emeritus of Memphis’s Baptist Memorial Hospital, Commissioner of the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Hospitals, Health Consultant to the federal government
  • Dr. Paul Stanton: President Emeriti and Professor Emeriti of Surgery of East Tennessee State University, Served as a member of the Governor’s TennCare Roundtable, Assisted in conducting the first review and recommendation of changes to Tennessee’s Medicaid program

In addition to recognizing Tennessee’s most influential health and health care leaders, The Hall of Fame will serve as an on-going educational resource to document the rich history that has contributed to Tennessee’s position as a leader for national health care initiatives.

Belmont’s President Dr. Bob Fisher said, “It is widely recognized that Tennessee is a central hub for health care in the United States, and with Nashville at the helm, our community has seen many individuals and organizations take significant strides to shape and advance the industry. Meanwhile, Belmont University has taken a significant role in undergraduate, graduate and executive health care education. The induction of these members into the Tennessee Health Care Hall of Fame will help us inspire the next generation of health care leaders, while further promoting Tennessee’s booming success as the nation’s premiere health care hub.”

Created in 2015, the Hall of Fame inducted eight inaugural members last year including Dr. Thomas Frist, Jr., Dr. Thomas Frist, Sr., Dr. Ernest Goodpasture, Jack C. Massey, R. Clayton McWhorter, Dr. David Satcher, Dr. Mildred Stahlman and Danny Thomas.

College of Pharmacy Finds Success on “Match Day”

Student pharmacists and alumni claim 32 positions across the U.S.

“Match Day,” the highly anticipated moment when Belmont’s College of Pharmacy soon-to-be-graduates and alumni learn where they’ll spend the next year honing their skills and talents, was a successful day at Belmont as 32 student pharmacists and alumni heard of their acceptance to competitive residency positions across the country. About 3,000 residencies were offered for this year’s American Society of Health-Systems Pharmacists match, far fewer than the number of student pharmacists desiring a position.

College of Pharmacy Dean Dr. Phil Johnston said, “Belmont College of Pharmacy has always had an impressive match rate, which can be attributed to enhanced student awareness of career goals and faculty mentoring. It was a happy week to celebrate the success of our students and their futures.  Congratulations to the classes of 2015 and 2016.”

Graduates selected for first-year residencies include Sarah Ayers (Jackson-Madison County Hospital in Jackson, Tennessee), Candace Beam (VA Tennessee Valley Healthcare in Nashville, Tennessee), Bailey Bolten (Erlanger Health Systems in Chattanooga, Tennessee), Tyler Casey (Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee), Ricky Church (Memorial Healthcare System in Chattanooga, Tennessee), Jennifer Collins (University of Chicago Medical Center in Chicago, Illinois), Scott Denno (Tennessee Department of Mental Health in Nashville, Tennessee), Fernando Diggs (Huntsville Hospital in Huntsville, Alabama), Meredith Ervin (Birmingham VA Medical Center in Birmingham, Alabama), Chelsea Goodman (Ephriam McDowell Regional Medical Center in Danville, Kentucky), Sarah Hardeman (The Medical Center, Columbus Regional in Columbus, Georgia), Shelby Hood (Maury Regional Medical Center in Columbia, Tennessee), Joe Huenecke (University of Toledo in Toledo, Ohio), Michelle Kirchbaum (Tuscaloosa VA Medical Center in Tuscaloosa, Alabama), Jocelyn Mason (University of Minnesota Medical Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota), Quyen Nguyen (Cookeville Regional Hospital in Cookeville, Tennessee), Frederick O’Neal (Dignity Health St. Rose Dominican in Henderson, Nevada), Emily Russell (James H. Quillen VA Medical Center in Mountain Home, Tennessee), Kristen Sherlin (University of Louisville Hospital in Louisville, Kentucky), Jennifer Sposito (Parkview Health in Fort Wayne, Indiana), Sara Thompson (VA Caribbean Health Care System in San Juan, Puerto Rico), Erin Todd (Tristar Centennial Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee), Alexander Tu (National Association of Community Drug Stores), Duy Vu (Dekalb Medical Center in Decatur, Georgia), Danielle Walker (Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center in Knoxville, Tennessee), Katie Wickler (Saint Thomas Rutherford Hospital in Murfreesboro, Tennessee) and Haley Willett (Norton Healthcare in Louisville, Kentucky).

Additionally, of the 22 student pharmacists who matched last spring, five are going on to a second-year residency. Drs. Emily Doss, Meghan Duquette, Elizabeth Jasper, Jocelyn Mason and Nilam Patel will be pursuing second-year residencies in internal medicine, psychiatry (2), infectious disease and cardiology, respectively.

First-year pharmacy residencies provide post-PharmD training in health systems, managed care and community settings, while second-year residencies provide advanced training in a focused area of patient care.

Pharmacy Student receives Dr. Fannie Hewlett Award which Honors Inclusivity and Diversity

In honor of Dr. Fannie Hewlett, Belmont’s first African American graduate, the University created the inaugural Dr. Fannie Hewlett Award and bestowed it upon an undergraduate and graduate student at Wednesday’s annual Scholarship and Awards Day. The award celebrates racial and ethnic diversity by recognizing student courage, leadership and a contribution to a culture of inclusion at Belmont. Its creation is one of the many initiatives from the University’s Welcome Home Team, a committee of faculty, staff and students that explores opportunities and plans strategies to expand racial and ethnic diversity on campus.

Dr. Hewlett grew up in Bay Minette, Alabama, and decided to come to Belmont College, some 420 miles away from her home, after finding a brochure for the school in her mailbox. Though she hadn’t visited the College and didn’t know where Nashville was, she arranged for transportation and embarked on the journey of a lifetime.

After earning her Bachelor of Science in Psychology and English from Belmont in 1970, Hewlett went on to earn her Master of Arts in Clinical and School Psychology from Fisk University in 1975 and her Doctorate in Educational Administration and Supervision from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville in 1990. Most recently, Hewlett served as the interim president at Chattanooga State Community College.

Chair of the Welcome Home Team, Vice President and Chief of Staff Dr. Susan West said the University was honored to recognize Dr. Hewlett through the creation of this award. “The Dr. Fannie Hewlett Award celebrates Dr. Hewlett by honoring students who have followed in her footsteps to make powerful change on our campus. It is our privilege to remember the legacy she left at Belmont for many years to come.”

Dr. Hewlett returned to campus in October 2015 for the Welcome Home Team’s inaugural Diversity Week, a week created to celebrate the University’s diversity and inclusivity efforts. While on campus, Hewlett gave a presentation to faculty, staff and students and said, “The people I have met here are the people who have helped me to become what I have become today. For that, I am eternally grateful.”

The Dr. Fannie Hewlett Award will continue to be awarded during the University’s Scholarship and Awards Day each year. For West, the creation of this award is a testament to the great things transpiring on Belmont’s campus. “It means we’re acknowledging our past and taking important steps in the areas of racial and ethnic diversity and inclusion. It further recognizes the essential conversations that are happening in our boardrooms, classrooms and dorm rooms, and Welcome Home Team is honored to assist in facilitating those conversations.”

This year’s award recipients were Tetchi Assaomi (College of Pharmacy) and Kristoff Hart (Mike Curb College of Entertainment and Music Business).

Pharmacy Professor Speaks at Healthcare Information Management Systems Society Conference

BlashSmall2College of Pharmacy Assistant Professor Dr. Anthony Blash co-presented at the 2016 Healthcare Information Management Systems Society (HIMSS) annual conference in Las Vegas, Nevada with JoAnn W. Klinedinst, M.Ed., CPHIMS, PMP, DES, FHIMSS, vice president of professional development for HIMSS North America.

Blash spoke about the benefits of being a HIMSS Approved Education Partner (AEP) and highlighted the fact that Belmont University’s College of Pharmacy was the first AEP chosen by the HIMSS society.

Attendance at this years’ conference was at a near-record high with over 40,000 attendees. After the conference, the society donated HIMSS conference backpacks to Blash for Belmont University College of Pharmacy students in the Healthcare Informatics concentration. The bags will go to students in a variety of healthcare informatics courses, as well as those who obtain their CAHIMS certification before graduation.

HIMSS is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to improving healthcare quality, safety, cost-effectiveness and access through the best use of information technology and management systems with 52,000 individual members, 570 corporate members and 225 not-for-profit association members.

Pharmacy Students Attend State Conference

The Tennessee Society of Student Pharmacists (TSSP) Winter Meeting was recently held in downtown Nashville at the Double Tree Hotel. Eighteen students from Belmont University’s College of Pharmacy attended to learn more about TSSP and advocate for the pharmacy profession. The Winter Meeting brings student pharmacists together from across Tennessee to engage in current legislation, build relationships and advocate for the pharmacy profession.

Belmont student Shelby Blalock took the reigns as the 2016-2017 TSSP president during the meeting. Blalock stated, “Attending the TSSP Winter Meeting was a great experience! During the meeting, we met other student pharmacists from across the state of Tennessee, shared our passion for the field of pharmacy and learned how to advocate for our profession through pharmacist panels and workshops.”

At the meeting this year, APhA Foundation Resident Brian Donahue, PharmD served as the keynote speaker. Donahue spoke on the event’s theme, “The Time is Now,” and described opportunities in the pharmacy profession and how to act on them. There was also a presentation on the past, present and future of TSSP, where Blalock spoke.

Other presentations focused on “Building an Innovative Practice,” “Being the Leader of Tomorrow Today,” and “Making the Most of Your Residency: Transitioning to the Workplace” by utilizing pharmacists and students to lead panels and hands-on activities. The programming also included a workshop, lead by TPA Director of Pharmacy Practice Initiatives Lucy Adkins, PharmD, on how to effectively advocate for the pharmacy profession. The meeting concluded with Blalock delivering her presidential speech and the TSSP Executive Committee transitioned leadership utilizing an Oath of Office led by Blalock.

TSSP continued a tradition of organizing a Legislative Health Fair at the State Capitol where students from every school or college of pharmacy from across Tennessee participated. Five Belmont students attended to check blood pressures and educate legislators on Medication Therapy Management. Three students participated in the TPA House of Delegates where two resolutions were proposed, voted on and passed. The first resolution honored Dr. Larry D. Calhoun (dean of ETSU) for his dedication and for winning the APhA-ASP Outstanding Dean Award. The second allowed pharmacists serving as preceptors to claim five hours of non-ACPE continuing education credit for precepting students per renewal cycle. The next meeting for TSSP is in July.

Mission to Guatemala: Energy, Laughter and Happiness

by Kristina Mertz, Meghan Chen, and Allison Lane
KristinaMeghan's HeadshotAllison's Headshot
This week has flown by faster than any of us had expected considering our rocky start. It is crazy to think that today was our last day of clinics here in Guatemala. Thursday's Blog PictureToday we were blessed enough to serve at Escuela Esperanza surrounding ourselves with kids full of energy, laughter, and happiness. The mission of this school was to break the cycle of poverty through education and empowerment, which motivated us to continue on through the heat of the day.

At the end of the day, we had our usual debriefing meeting where we reflected upon 1 Corinthians 1: 12-19. In this passage, it discusses how “God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.” This scripture made us realize how God has given each individual on this team special abilities and talents that has allowed us to work together as a team. Similar to the Body of Christ, health care is made up of many different parts and roles. Our team is made up of students from pharmacy, physical therapy, social work, and nursing. Over the past week, we have realized the importance of integrating interdisciplinary roles in order to serve the people of Antigua. We all have our own individual strengths but we also know it is okay to ask for help when we need it.

Thursday's Blog Picture 2It is so rewarding to know that we were able to provide health care for so many people over this short amount of time. None of this would be possible without each of us coming together to form a team, for the sum of our efforts are greater than the parts we each play. Each of us will walk away with a stronger understanding of how we can serve others as the Body of Christ.

As Jesus says in Matthew 25:40, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.”

Mission to Guatemala: God came through. . .

by Shelley Robert, Adjunct Professor and
Nurse Practitioner, Vanderbilt Trauma Center

“Your word, Lord, is eternal;
it stands firm in the heavens.
Your faithfulness continues through all generations; you established the earth, and it endures.” -Psalm 119:89-90

Leading the students on this trip has reinforced and renewed my faith in several ways. As a newcomer to Guatemala, as a rookie leader of a student trip, and as a nurse practitioner who practices in a highly organized healthcare system with ample resources, this trip presented many challenges and fears. I was not able to solve these challenges by my own volition or control, therefore I asked God to give me the strength and wisdom of the Holy Spirit. I breathed this prayer under my breath many times throughout the week, as I walked up to obviously sick women and children. And He responded. Our student team saw many very sick patients who literally had no other option outside of us. We are practicing in a rural area where many families live in great poverty, and they do not have the resources to provide healthcare for their families. Many of our Guatemalan friends, when I questioned their medical history, had never been seen by a doctor. We saw a variety of illnesses, ranging from children with chronic respiratory illness to a woman with dengue fever and impending hypovolemic shock. I prayed so many times during these examinations, for God to help me remember my training and to give me direction for how to best care for these very sick people. Cellular networks were unreliable, and we had no use for all the fancy & informative apps on our phones. But God came through for us. He answered my prayers, in all His goodness and grace. He helped me to recall the knowledge and skills that go unused in my day-to-day profession, which is highly specialized and not at all similar to the primary care/international medicine practice that we needed with these patients. He also gave me a brilliant multidisciplinary team of health science students and other leaders who were passionate and excited to lend their fresh expertise in a new perspective. God is faithful. Our prayers are a reminder of our reliance on God, as we humbly and desperately invite Him to fill us with faith and strength.