OXFORD, Miss. – Recognized for her dedication to community pharmacy, University of Mississippi pharmacy professor Ashley Ellis has been named a member of the inaugural class for the National Association of Chain Drug Stores Foundation’s Faculty Scholars Program.
“I couldn’t be any more excited,” said Ellis, a clinical assistant professor of pharmacy practice. “This is the first year that the program has been offered, and I’m so thrilled I was given this opportunity.”
Launched earlier this year, the Faculty Scholars Program is designed to educate assistant professors from U.S. schools and colleges of pharmacy about designing, implementing and publishing community pharmacy-based patient care research. The program provides a $2,500 starter grant to conduct and evaluate a patient-focused research project in community pharmacy practice.“I definitely want to make a meaningful contribution on behalf of Mississippi, our institution and our patients to the research that demonstrates how community pharmacists can improve health care outcomes,” Ellis said. “We’re so accessible because there’s a pharmacy on virtually every corner. Patients can see a pharmacist almost around the clock.
“So that’s really my goal – to use this project to continue to show evidence of accessibility and to get to know others who are doing this so successfully at other institutions.”
Ellis has a long history in community pharmacy.
“I have worked in community pharmacy since I was 16 and I’ve always loved it,” she said. “I’ve always known this is the setting I want to be in. I completed a residency in community pharmacy, and I love sharing this passion with students.”
Much of Ellis’s existing work is related to community pharmacy-based patient care. For the past year, she worked with Funderburk’s Pharmacy in Hernando on the Delta Pharmacy Patient Care Management Project. Funded by a grant from the Delta Health Alliance, this UM project served to demonstrate how pharmacists impact clinical, economic and humanistic outcomes of residents of the Mississippi Delta through medication therapy management, including diabetes control.
“We will use that experience to enhance this program,” Ellis said. “Funderburk’s has been providing diabetes services for almost 10 years; the Delta Project really allowed us to expand those services. We were able to enroll many more patients who could not afford them on their own.
“Through the Delta Project, the pharmacy has built really strong relationships with providers and become even more integrated into the community. We plan to build on that, and since diabetes services are a strength at Funderburk’s Pharmacy, more than likely the seed money provided through this grant will be continued in that venue.”
Leigh Ann Ross, UM associate dean for clinical affairs and chair of the Department of Pharmacy Practice, believes Ellis’s involvement in the program will enhance her career.
“We are thrilled Dr. Ellis has been selected for the inaugural class of the NACDS Foundation Faculty Scholars Program,” Ross said. “Dr. Ellis is dedicated to improving outcomes for patients in community pharmacy settings and to preparing our students for future practice opportunities. This program will allow her to build on current community-based research and practice endeavors, and I am confident that her patients and students will benefit from this experience.”
Ellis is looking forward to the networking and educational opportunities this experience will bring.
“During my three years at the university, I’ve taught, conducted some research and worked on the Delta Project,” she said. “I think the Faculty Scholars Program will enhance my research skills and help me step out on my own and become a primary investigator. We’re getting started the first week in August, so I can’t wait.”
The Delta Health Alliance is gratefully acknowledged for the support of the Delta Pharmacy Patient Care Management Project through HRSA Grant Number U1FRH07411-3. DHA is a nonprofit organization based in Stoneville that advocates, develops and implements collaborative programs to improve the health of people in the Delta through the support of partnerships that increase access and availability of health care, conduct and apply health research, or offer health education programs that foster healthy lifestyles for Deltans. For more information about DHA, visit http://www.deltahealthalliance.org.
For more information on programs in the UM School of Pharmacy, go to http://www.pharmacy.olemiss.edu/.