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ICHP Leadership Spotlight Interview - Meet Andrew!
Andrew Merker, PharmD, BCPS, BCIDP, AAHIVP
What is your Leadership position in ICHP?
Northern Illinois Society of Health-System Pharmacists - Secretary
Where is your practice site?
Assistant Professor of Pharmacy Practice, Chicago College of Pharmacy, Internal Medicine Pharmacist, Mount Sinai Hospital
What pharmacy related issues keep you up at night?
What our profession is going to look like in 10, 20, and 30 years from now. With increased automation and advanced technology, it’s important for pharmacists and technicians to continue to adapt and develop new methods of providing patient care. It is one reason why organizations like ICHP are important, to promote discussion and advancement of our profession. Although the future is unknown, I’m excited to
see the ensuing discussion on how we adapt with our potentially changing roles in order to advance patient care.
What have you done to improve a problem at your organization?
Recently at my practice site, I’ve been heavily involved in implementing a policy for guiding management of patients experiencing opioid withdrawal. There was no policy previously, which resulted in over utilization of methadone and in some instances, required naloxone administration to reverse side effects. In addition to policy creation, I helped lead provider/pharmacist/nurse education. As a result of this policy and education we have been more judicious with our methadone use by substituting buprenorphine (a safer alternative) and have future goals of increasing naloxone dispensing and medication assisted treatment (MAT) in our associated clinics.
What makes ICHP great?
ICHP is great because of the collaboration between pharmacists and technicians from diverse practice settings. I’ve enjoyed working with a variety of pharmacists and technicians and learning from their personal experiences while working to promote our profession. The discussion has allowed me to be more creative in my own problem solving skills.
What initially motivated you to get involved in ICHP?
I joined ICHP in late 2016 to assist in the planning for the 2017 Annual Meeting. I had been out of residency for a couple of years and was looking to get more involved with professional organizations on a regional/state level. I felt I had more experience to offer at that point in my career and I wanted to know the level of organization and planning that goes into such a large event. I had a great experience and learned a lot.
Is there an individual you admire or look up to, or a mentor that has influenced your career?
A special thanks to Bill Reay for making me who I am today in my career. During my junior year in college, I was considering pharmacy but was undecided. I was able to connect with Bill who shared his experiences and initiated a level of enthusiasm within me to pursue pharmacy. Throughout the years, he was always there to motivate me for the next step in my career. He connected me with several pharmacists who helped in my decision making process. Without his guidance, I’m sure my career path would have turned out extremely different.
What advice would you give to student pharmacists?
The advice I always pass on to students is take advantage of opportunities presented and don’t be afraid to try something new. Some of my favorite and most beneficial opportunities came from offers I didn’t know I would enjoy initially. There is always something one can learn about themselves regardless if the opportunity fits in your “planned” career path or not.
Do you have a favorite restaurant or food?
Tacos have to be my favorite food. I find it hard to believe you can ever go wrong putting meat, cheese, and vegetables in a tortilla. They can be a part of any meal and I can eat them every day.
What is your favorite place to vacation?
San Juan, Puerto Rico. It’s beautiful, lots of beaches, a quick flight from Chicago, and the food is amazing.