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Obstetric Pharmacist Promotes Interprofessional Patient Care

Published on 01 December 2013

Her groundbreaking work in women’s health and collaborative, interdisciplinary approach to patient care have put Alicia Forinash at the forefront of the pharmacy profession.

As both associate professor at St. Louis College of Pharmacy and ambulatory care clinical pharmacy specialist at the Maternal-Fetal Care Clinic at SSM St. Mary’s Health Center in St. Louis, Alicia Forinash, Pharm.D., is only one of a handful of pharmacists in the United States practicing obstetric pharmacy. A clinical researcher and practitioner, Forinash is making a significant impact on her patients’ and students’ futures.

“I think I was born to be a pharmacist,” Forinash shares. “My mom was a nurse, and she always knew what to give my siblings and me to help us feel better. I wanted to be like her; if I needed something or if my friends or family needed something, I wanted to know what to recommend and how to take care of them.”

Her pharmaceutical knowledge, compassion, and care make Forinash so successful at helping others. Most of her days are spent at the clinic, where she works closely with other health care professionals to manage and educate low- and high-risk maternity patients.

“Our team is interdisciplinary,” Forinash explains. “We partner with several Saint Louis University physicians, and we have on staff a nurse practitioner, dietician, diabetic educators, genetic counselors, and sonographers.” Together, the staff collaborates to treat their patients, some of whom have traveled hours to receive life-saving, specialized care.

“Offering collaborative patient care is important because everyone on the team brings a different component,” Forinash says. “We refer back and forth to each other throughout the day to make sure we’re covering the patient in every possible aspect.”

Forinash educates her patients on medication management, safety, and side effects. “I really enjoy getting to know them and helping them learn about their disease states,” she says. “Women’s bodies change during pregnancy, so they may metabolize or eliminate some medicines faster, which brings up new challenges to consider. I like thinking about these challenges and how they relate to patient care.”

Forinash treats her students with the same care and concern she shows her patients. She teaches women’s health courses at the College and is the program director for one of STLCOP’s PGY2 ambulatory care residencies. “I like working with the students and listening to what they have going on,” she says. “I help them try to get through whatever challenges they have, so they can see what their futures can be.”

Her own future is as equally promising. Currently, she is working with physicians to implement collaborative practice agreements at the clinic. “The change to Missouri law regarding medication therapy allows me to more independently care for some patients,” she says. “Collaborative agreements allow me to make medication therapy changes without getting physician approval for every step of the process.” She continues, “I don’t want to skip having the physicians involved, but I can improve efficiency by updating them and having prescriptions ready for them.” In addition to her work at the clinic, Forinash wants to continue her research efforts. “I want to document more of what I’m doing within obstetrics to show what pharmacists can do for obstetric care,” she says.

Whether in the clinic or the classroom, Alicia Forinash is a true pioneer in her profession.

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