Passion for patients formed in grandfather's community pharmacy
Trish Freeman remembers the days spent inside her grandfather’s independent community pharmacy. Like many community pharmacies across Kentucky, Smith Drug Store in Jamestown was not just the primary health care source in that Lake Cumberland community – it was the gathering spot, where people came to share community news and learn from each other.
Little did she know how that experience would profoundly impact her pharmacy career.
Trish Freeman, a UK College of Pharmacy alumna who now serves as Director of the College’s Center for the Advancement of Pharmacy Practice (CAPP), has dedicated her career to applying the same lessons she learned in her grandfather’s store many years ago: Building community and improving patient care.
Building coalitions to help improve the profession
“I think many people feel the spirit of the community pharmacy is long gone,” said Dr. Freeman, a Clinical Associate Professor in the College’s Department of Pharmacy Practice and Science. “But when we practice pharmacy well – no matter the practice setting – the concepts of community building and improving patient care are central to who we are and who we strive to be as pharmacists.”
Dr. Freeman holds two degrees from the UK College of Pharmacy, having received her bachelor’s degree in 1987 and her PhD in Pharmaceutical Sciences in 1991. Following a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Vermont, Freeman returned to the College in 1995, first as a part-time assistant professor and then as a full-time lecturer.
She has dedicated her career to expanding opportunities for pharmacists in Kentucky. In 2004, she led a coalition of pharmacists in helping to change Kentucky law, allowing pharmacists to provide immunizations. Not only did that legislation change the face of community pharmacy in Kentucky – it motivated Dr. Freeman to do more for her profession.
“After the immunization legislation was passed, I knew it was a different day for the practice of pharmacy in Kentucky,” she recalled. “For many years, pharmacists have been the most underutilized – yet most accessible – health care provider. I knew we had an opportunity to do great things, and once people saw how pharmacists responded to the immunization challenge, I knew we would be positioned to offer more.”
2015 proved to be another hallmark year for Kentucky pharmacists and, once again, Dr. Freeman led the charge. This time Kentucky pharmacists were being challenged to solve a public health crisis affecting families across Kentucky.
Opioid overdoses and deaths have surged across Kentucky, in both rural and urban communities. To fight this epidemic, the Kentucky General Assembly passed legislation during their 2015 session that allows certified pharmacists, acting under a physician-approved protocol, to fill naloxone (an antidote that reverses opioid overdose) orders in their communities without a physician’s prescription.