Member Profile - Kristen F. Sobota and Micah J. Sobota

Kristen F. Sobota and Micah J. Sobota

This profile is unique in that it describes the experiences of a married couple, both pharmacists.

This is one in an occasional series of member profiles. All pharmacists were asked to provide answers to several questions. This was originally published in the December, 2014 issue of The Consultant Pharmacist.

 

  Micah J. and Kristen F. Sobota
 
 

 

  Melissa Barker (left), a pharmacy student at Ohio Northern University, and pharmacist Kristen Sobota, PharmD, CGP, director of outreach programming, review blood glucose results with patient, Marie Smith.
   
 

 

  Pharmacist Micah Sobota, PharmD, CGP, FASCP, and Ohio Northern University pharmacy student Alyse Fitzpatrick, educate a patient on medications and blood pressure reading.
   
Kristen F. Sobota, PharmD, CGP
Please tell us about yourself and your pharmacy practice.

Upon graduation from West Virginia University and a one-year ambulatory residency from The Ohio State University, I took a teaching position at the Raabe College of Pharmacy at Ohio Northern University (ONU) in Ada, Ohio. Currently, I am an associate professor of pharmacy practice and teach in a “profession of pharmacy series,” which includes a study of pharmaceutical calculations, over-the-counter drugs, physical assessment, and various therapeutic topics including hypertension, asthma, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. I also am the director of outreach programming for the College of Pharmacy, which means I am a liaison between the college and community for establishing health fairs and screenings at various locations. This position allows me to work with students to create and implement numerous outreach programs, including health fairs at local grocery stores, group educational sessions at medical clinics, and health screenings in conjunction with meal preparation at homeless shelters.

Were both you and your husband in senior care pharmacy before you met? What is it like being married to another consultant pharmacist?

Before meeting my husband Micah, I was involved with senior care, but not to the extent that I am now. Micah encouraged me to take the certified geriatric pharmacist (CGP) examination, and he has been an amazing influence on my becoming more involved in the senior population. I now set up more outreach programs at assisted living facilities and work with councils of aging in two counties. I have also collaborated with Micah on several events that involve educational sessions at his clinic on mental health and medication adherence as well as providing blood pressure checks and health education at homeless shelters. Being married to another pharmacist and fellow CGP is a wonderful way to grow in the profession. We always bounce ideas off one another, provide feedback on programs on which we have collaborated together, and keep up-to-date on new advances in practice.

What have the highlights and challenges been over the years?

Celebrating our professional accomplishments together is always a highlight. We have shared in each other’s recognitions, such as passing national board certifications and receiving national and state pharmacy practice awards. It is also rewarding to collaborate together on outreach programs in the community. We have presented several educational group sessions and have provided various screenings at a local men’s homeless shelter. We certainly find it challenging to balance both of our fulltime jobs with two young children in day care. As I have become older and started a family, it’s harder to become as involved professionally as I once was years ago.

What advice can you offer other consultant and senior care pharmacists?

My advice would be to continue to serve the community by going to nursing facilities and assisted living facilities, and working with student pharmacists and other organizations like councils on aging. Volunteer your time at these places by doing simple screenings such as blood pressure or blood glucose and medication reviews/brown bags. The senior population truly appreciates the time you can offer and enjoys the company of someone who can help answer their medication-related questions.

What would your advice be for a student or a new practitioner?

My advice would be to stay open-minded to the endless possibilities and rewards pharmacy can offer. I highly encourage them to reach out to their professors and other pharmacy preceptors and to choose mentors that will help guide them to shape the future of pharmacy practice. Let yourself be drawn to the area of pharmacy you really love and in which you want to make a difference. Choose a career path that is best suited for you, because the most rewarding feeling in life is waking up happy and going to a job you love. Strive to excel as a student or young pharmacist who serves his or her patients and community with professionalism, pride, and compassion.

What are your hopes for the future of pharmacy education?

My hope is for my pharmacy students to make a difference, not only in our profession, but also in the individual lives of their patients. I believe in the value of serving the community, and I hope they will continue to serve others with their wealth of pharmacy knowledge. I also hope to expand upon existing outreach programs at ONU through the collaboration of new sites and the creation of new programs in the community.

Micah J. Sobota, PharmD, CGP, FASCP
Please tell us about yourself and your pharmacy practice.

Following graduating Ohio Northern University, I pursued a residency at the Huntington Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Huntington, West Virginia. There I had tremendous preceptors who aided in coaching me not only to be a better pharmacist, but also to be a better person. It was there that I developed my passions for geriatrics and psychiatry. Following my residency, I returned to the “flat-lands” of Ohio. Recently, I was able to work with the administration and create a position at Coleman Behavioral Health, a local community mental health center (CMHC), where I am the clinical pharmacist. The unique position provides direct one-on-one patient care for consultation and medication reviews. Pharmacists who work at behavioral health clinics are able to bill the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services for providing medication review at a rate similar to those provided by psychiatrists, nurse practitioners, and other providers when providing this service. My goal is to work with the staff and patients to provide extensive medication education while documenting outcomes for continued success.

What have the highlights and challenges been over the years?

I have continued in geriatric care in some fashion since graduation from my residency program. In ambulatory care clinics and inpatient hospital units, including a geriatric-psychiatric unit at a local hospital, I have always tried to focus my practice in aiding patients with various geriatric syndromes. Collaborating with my wife has always been an exciting avenue as we are able to extend our passion for geriatric care to the future of our profession.

As Kristen mentioned, celebrating our accomplishments truly means more as we understand the meaning of such deeds. Before we were married she was the first person I e-mailed to let her know that I became board certified, and a year later she found she too became board certified. We were awaiting a flight to go to the American Society of Health-Systems Pharmacy Midyear when we got the call that she had passed the exam (she was too nervous to wait until we came back). On a broader level, a major challenge that I, along with the rest of the profession, have is to continue to struggle in reimbursement for services provided. The buzzwords of “provider status” and “reimbursement” have a true meaning in our profession. As I mentioned, with my new position being able to bill for services, I am truly excited for the opportunity for a consultant pharmacist in the placement in a community mental health center.

Following one of Kristen’s outreach programs at Coleman Behavioral Health, I knew the placement of a consultant pharmacist could benefit the clientele and staff, but even more important, it is a place I wanted to be. I submitted a proposal to the administration saying that I wanted to create a new position for the facility to help clients manage their medications and general health. I highlighted my areas of expertise and specific goals and outcomes to expect from this new position. The slot was created as a pilot program with 20 hours per week dedicated to the position, but after three months the time was increased.

What would your advice be for a student or a new practitioner?

As mentioned, my advice for consultant pharmacists is not to be afraid to be creative. My 10 years of practice has helped me in being confident in my therapeutic skills to collaborate as part of an integrated care team and create a job I wanted.

Being a preceptor and mentor for students has always been a joy and honor. I do my very best to instill the best possible attitude when caring for all clients, but especially the underserved geriatric population with chronic mental illness. To students I reiterate the advice I would give to any pharmacist: Think outside the box, and just because your dream position isn’t there doesn’t mean it can’t be created.

What are your hopes for the future of your businesses/practices?

As a profession I do hope pharmacy continues to grow and be seen as an integral part of a multidisciplinary care team. Personally, my goal is for the position I created to be duplicated throughout the organization at different sites and grow as a teaching element for pharmacy students, eventually creating a residency program for student pharmacists.

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