OBJECTIVE: The University of Pittsburgh Nephrology Pharmaceutical Care Preceptorship (NPCP) program was conceived to acquaint health system pharmacists with the pharmacotherapeutic management of dialysis patients, enhance the delivery of pharmaceutical care, and improve clinical outcomes through the development of specialized professional skills. A survey designed to determine the impact of the NPCP program was sent to all 145 participants of the program. METHODS: The survey, designed to collect demographic information and data about the participants' practice sites, professional activities prior to and after the completion of the program, and markers of disease status, was mailed to all participants in September 1997. The 96 respondents (66.2%) were involved in a wide variety of clinical practices; inpatient management of peritoneal dialysis, hemodialysis, or renal transplant patients were most commonly reported. RESULTS: More than 80% of the participants believed that the educational content of the NPCP program was sufficient to allow them to establish a specialized service for the management of dialysis patients. However, two-thirds would have preferred to have more contact time (an additional 1-2 d) with the preceptorship faculty. The percentage of the pharmacists' time devoted to the provision of pharmaceutical care for dialysis patients almost doubled, from 13.1% to 25.2% (p < 0.001). The components of pharmaceutical care performed by these pharmacists also changed as a result of their completion of the NPCP program. Time devoted to clinical services and the provision of educational programs (inservices) increased significantly, while the time allocated to distributive activities decreased from a mean of 32.4% to 26.4% (almost 20% from baseline). The number of pharmacists who provided some component of pharmaceutical care for ambulatory dialysis patients increased significantly, from 10 to 33, after completion of the program. In the survey given after the preceptorship, almost 70% of these 33 pharmacists self-reported that the mean hematocrit of their ambulatory dialysis patients increased; 45% reported that the epoetin dose was lower. Parenteral iron use was also reported to have increased in 78.8% of the dialysis units, and an increase in serum ferritin and transferrin saturation was observed in 54.5% and 60.6% of the units, respectively. Although far fewer pharmacists (n = 15) initiated a renal osteodystrophy management program, 73.3% of those who did so reported an increase in their patients' compliance with phosphate binder therapy, which was reflected in a drop in serum phosphorous in 40% of the units. CONCLUSIONS: The NPCP program resulted in changes in the professional activities of the participants: fewer distributive activities and increased clinical and educational activities. These significant changes were noted in all areas of outpatient care. Participation in the NPCP program enhanced the delivery of pharmaceutical care to dialysis patients and improved the markers of disease status.
- Nephrology preceptor