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IHS Clinical Pharmacy

Pharmacy services are fully integrated into the health care system. Therefore, pharmacists are often called upon to perform other extended functions such as primary patient care and program management.


Clinical Pharmacy
A “health science discipline in which pharmacists provide patient care that optimizes medication therapy and promotes health, wellness, and disease prevention. The practice of clinical pharmacy blends a caring orientation with specialized therapeutic knowledge, experience, and judgment for the purpose of ensuring optimal patient outcomes. As a discipline, clinical pharmacy also has an obligation to contribute to the generation of new knowledge that advances health and quality of life”.

Clinical Pharmacist
A pharmacist with advanced training in pharmaceutical sciences, pharmacology, and clinical pharmacy. The primary function of the clinical pharmacist is to provide pharmacotherapy. The clinical pharmacist is responsible for managing medication therapy through direct patient assessment to evaluate patient responses to medication therapy, to communicate and document patient findings, to make recommendations to care team providers, and to implement and monitor pharmacotherapeutic care plans. These clinical functions include the selection of appropriate medication for disease state management, monitoring patient outcomes, analysis of adverse drug events, and medication reconciliation. Indirect patient care activities include formulary management, quality assurance, medication utilization review, and staff development.

Clinical Pharmacist Qualifications:

Pharmacists must have obtained a Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy (B.S. Pharm) or a Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) degree from a program accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education, or have passed the appropriate U.S. sponsored foreign pharmacy graduate qualifying exam. Additionally, an applicant with only a B.S. Pharm must have at least five years of verifiable clinical pharmacy experience. An applicant with a Pharm.D. who is not a new graduate (within the past year), must have at least six months of verifiable clinical experience within the past year, or successfully completed a one year American Society of Health System Pharmacists accredited residency within the past year.

Examples of best practices of Clinical Pharmacy in IHS:

Whiteriver Service Unit Pharmacy Expanding Vaccine Access (PEVA) Program: Whiteriver Service Unit (WRSU) leads the Pharmacy Expanding Vaccine Access (PEVA) workgroup, an initiative to decrease the prevalence of vaccine-preventable diseases. The primary focus of PEVA is to increase access to and demand for immunization services. This program uses subject matter experts to advise, educate, and implement innovative immunization practices in the field of public health. The program focuses on pharmacy-based immunization practices reaching pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, health professionals, and community members. Under this workgroup, the service unit implemented the pharmacy technician vaccine administration program, whereby pharmacy technicians receive immunization training and become nationally certified to administer vaccinations to patients of all ages.

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Hepatitis C Project of NICE (Northern Tier Initiative for Hepatitis C Elimination):
The NICE (Northern Tier Initiative for Hepatitis C Elimination) project provides comprehensive and patient-centered support for clinics with or in process of introducing HCV services at their healthcare facilities in the Northern Tier Areas including but not limited to Great Plains, Billings and Bemidji. The project offers a teleECHO clinic with medical providers focusing on the management and treatment of patients with Hepatitis C. Northern Tier Indian Health Service facilities and clinics have the capacity to make cure of HCV, eliminate incidence, and vastly reduce patient risk for developing liver cancer and failure in the IHS through initiation and collaboration of efforts with the NICE Project.

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The National Pharmacy Council Innovations Newsletter:
The National Pharmacy Council Innovations Newsletter carries out an initiative to share innovative pharmacy practices nationally across the Indian Health Service. The newsletter distributes accurate and up to date information written by pharmacy officers to share any new ideas and neat tools developed, pharmacy run clinics, community impact stories, time management ideas, significant officer achievements, personal wellness and others. The newsletter supports the mission of the Indian Health Service and of the Public Health Service by allowing various service units to collaborate innovative practices and ideas to improve the quality of patient care.

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The National Clinical Pharmacy Specialist Committee:
The National Clinical Pharmacy Specialist Committee (NCPSC) provides a mechanism to assure that all Clinical Pharmacy Specialists in Federal Pharmacy display a uniform level of competency for pharmacists as primary care providers (PCPs) to allow for privileges including prescriptive authority. Pharmacists working at any public health facility (IHS, ICE, BOP, CG) may apply for certification as a National Clinical Pharmacy Specialist if they meet the qualifications.

Visit the NCPSC website to learn more.

Pharmacy-Related Indian Health Manual Chapters

IHS Resources

External Resources