VanDyke Selected as First Visiting Scholar

Published on 21 March 2018

As part of a memorandum agreement between St. Louis College of Pharmacy and Trinity College Dublin (TCD), Melanie VanDyke, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychology, was selected as the College’s first visiting scholar to travel to Ireland.

When Helen Sheridan, Ph.D., director of research and associate professor of pharmacy at TCD, visited the College, she met with VanDyke to learn more about how her clinical psychology research intersects with pharmacy.

“My expertise in treating anxiety disorders and educating pharmacy students led to my interest in medication saving behaviors,” VanDyke said. “By integrating my work at the College and passion as a clinical psychologist, I was able to develop research that was both meaningful and applicable to my students.”

Sheridan was intrigued by VanDyke’s ability to connect psychology and pharmacy. She knew her research could help students in Ireland better understand how different professions can be integrated to improve patient care, so she invited VanDyke to present her research about medication saving behaviors in older adults and serve as a guest lecturer at TCD.

“Current literature lacks a standard definition for medication saving behaviors,” VanDyke said. “My partners and I developed preliminary validity data for a new measure assessing medication hoarding behaviors.”

VanDyke’s research on medication saving behaviors in aging adults provided an additional connection to TCD. The Intellectual Disability Supplement to the Irish Longitudinal Study on Aging (IDS-TILDA) currently underway at TCD focuses on identifying the health service needs of older persons with intellectual disabilities.

“Several of our students have had the opportunity to work on the IDS-TILDA project during their advanced pharmacy practice experiences in Ireland,” VanDyke said. “I appreciate TCD helping our students learn and wanted to pay it forward by broadening their students’ understanding of clinical psychology as it relates to pharmacy.”

While at TCD, VanDyke explained how medication hoarding has the potential to interfere with medication adherence and could potentially impact safety and functioning.

“With little research on medication hoarding currently available, the Medication Saving Behaviors Scale was designed to specifically examine medication saving behaviors from the perspective of family caregivers of older adults,” VanDyke said. “The six-item medication saving behaviors scale showed good preliminary reliability and validity, and it is my hope that this scale will eventually function as a way to assess medication management interventions and hoarding treatments.”

During her time at TCD, VanDyke also highlighted ways to treat patients with anxiety disorders using medication, cognitive-behavioral treatment, or alternative evidence-based treatments.

“Each student pharmacist was assigned an anxiety disorder to research,” she said. “I then guided them to examine treatment outcome studies for evidence of the medication’s efficacy and side-effects.”

VanDyke also stressed the need for health care professionals to exercise their critical thinking skills and the importance of understanding how to use quality research to support treatment recommendations.

“It is my hope that I broadened students’ worldview and they remember the critical thinking skills we worked to fortify during my lectures,” she said. “And I hope that my experience in the faculty exchange program strengthened our partnership for years to come.”

In the near future, VanDyke plans to work with the Office of International Programs to help expand faculty exchange opportunities and develop research areas that overlap at both institutions.

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