Glenaire has a unique partnership with Campbell University, located about 45 minutes away in Buies Creek. Since 2007 Campbell has been sending pharmacy students to our community to do a one month rotation in geriatric pharmacology. Each year 24 Campbell students rotate through Glenaire, two or three per month. Dr. Amber McLendon, Associate Professor of Pharmacy at Campbell, has been overseeing the students since the program began.
“This is a purely educational rotation,” she explains. “We don’t dispense medications. With the independent residents, we visit them each in their home once a year and update all their information. So, we provide a service to Glenaire by keeping their emergency information up to date and we provide a service to the residents by talking to them and looking at their medication regimen and evaluating it to see if they’re on any drugs that are considered to be inappropriate for older people. If they are, we explain why that particular drug may be bad for them and recommend an alternative.”
“We’re also here to answer questions anybody should have,” she goes on. “So, we’re here as an educational resource for the residents.” She says it’s also important to have the students spend time with residents. “In the doctor’s office they may only get ten or fifteen minutes, so they can only talk about one or two things, and we may be the only people looking at everything a resident is taking and assessing it holistically. We spend a lot of time with them so we can listen to all their concerns, answer all their questions, make sure we really understand how they’re taking their medicines, and try and communicate that back to the health care provider.”
The students are also learning, of course. They develop better patient communication skills and to not always speak in “pharmacy language.” And they get a chance to engage with people. “I encourage them not to just go through their checklist of what to ask, but to really get to know these people because they have so much to offer from their life experience,” Dr. McLendon says.
Originally from Alabama, Dr. McLendon earned her undergraduate degree at Duke and then attended pharmacy school at UNC-Chapel Hill. It was there that she developed her interest in geriatrics. Working at a drug store, she found she enjoyed interacting with the older customers. “They asked better questions and I enjoyed talking to them,” she says. After doing a residency in geriatrics at a VA hospital in San Antonio, she came to Campbell and became part of the Glenaire rotation. Today she estimates that she spends sixty to seventy percent of her time here. She likes it that way. “I get so much joy just from learning from the residents here and talking to people because they have so much to offer in life experience and advice and wisdom, and I hope we can offer them a little bit of specialized knowledge. But I probably get way more out of interacting with them than the other way around.”
She admires the level of care offered at Glenaire and is proud to be part of it. “People have a true sense of community here, and the residents are always impressed at how well they’re taken care of and how much we’re doing to help them. That’s what I like about having been here so long,” she says. “I get to meet people when they move in, I get to know them while they’re doing well in Independent Living, and I get to follow them all the way through and develop that long-term relationship with them.”