New USPHS Chief Pharmacy Officer Visits the School of Pharmacy

Rear Admiral Schweitzer leads 6,700 uniformed public health professionals throughout the federal government.

By Becky Ceraul
June 10, 2015

This spring, the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy hosted a visit from Rear Admiral (RADM) Pamela Schweitzer, PharmD, BCACP, assistant surgeon general and chief pharmacy officer of the United States Public Health Service (USPHS), who was appointed to her position in August 2014. As the chief pharmacy officer, RADM Schweitzer provides leadership and coordination of PHS pharmacy programs and professional affairs for the Office of the Surgeon General and the Department of Health and Human Services. She was invited to the School of Pharmacy by Dean Natalie D. Eddington, PhD, FAAPS, FCP.

“We were pleased to welcome RADM Schweitzer to the School of Pharmacy for what we hope will be the first of many visits,” says Eddington. “Her visit provided us with an opportunity to hear about her professional background and learn more about her goals in her new position. Because of our School’s proximity to the federal government in Washington, DC, we are fortunate to have a close relationship with many federal health care and research agencies, including the USPHS. We look forward to continuing collaborations under RADM Schweitzer’s leadership.”

RADM Schweitzer has served in varied assignments throughout her career with USPHS, progressing in leadership responsibilities in the Indian Health Service (IHS), the Veterans Administration (VA), and currently with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). RADM Schweitzer began her Corps career with the IHS at the Pine Ridge Indian Hospital in South Dakota followed by geographic and programmatic moves reflecting increasing responsibility and leadership. Her VA service was with the VA Medical Center Hot Springs in South Dakota. Her current duty station with CMS is in Baltimore. According to the USPHS, all of these experiences have allowed her to develop lasting partnerships that ultimately improved federal pharmacists serving the mission of their respective organizations.

“Every year, many of our students perform required rotations at USPHS sites such as the Indian Health Service with USPHS pharmacists serving as preceptors,” says Eddington. “These experiences help our students learn first-hand the challenges and opportunities associated with providing health care in medically underserved areas. As a result of these rotations, several students in each class become commissioned officers in the USPHS upon graduation, solidifying their commitment to serve our country and a patient population in need.”

During her visit, RADM Schweitzer met with School of Pharmacy faculty and several students who have completed IHS rotations. One of the students, Kinbo Lee, recently graduated from the School of Pharmacy and was immediately commissioned in the USPHS. He started on June 1 at his first duty station in the Federal Correctional Complex in Tucson, Arizona, which consists of a US Penitentiary, a medium-security institution, and a minimum security camp. He is one of four pharmacists managing more than 2,000 inmates in conjunction with an interdisciplinary team of physicians, psychologists, nurse practitioners, nurses, and correctional officers.

“I was impressed by RADM Schweitzer’s enthusiasm and her knowledge of topics such as health information technology, sustainable mechanisms of reimbursement, provider status and related challenges,” says Lee of his meeting with her at the School.

“A career in the USPHS provides new opportunities, new adventures, and new challenges through service in various duty stations in the IHS, the Federal Bureau of Prisons, the Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control, and more,” says Lee.

“Commissioned officers are driven by a sense of mission and a purpose to protect, promote, and advance the health and safety of our nation while adhering to the core values of leadership, service, integrity, and excellence, values that I have seen exemplified first-hand and that I personally hold in high regard.”

Since her appointment in 2014, RADM Schweitzer has provided leadership on several information technology projects that have made a significant impact on IHS and VA federal pharmacy including Pharmacy Billing, the mail-out program using the VA’s Consolidated Mail Outpatient Pharmacy program, e-prescribing, Prescription Drug Monitoring and Interconnect Pilot, and IHS Electronic Health Record implementation.

RADM Schweitzer has been recognized for her leadership contributions including receiving the American Pharmacists Association Distinguished Federal Pharmacist Award in 2014, the USPHS Mary Louise Anderson Leadership Award in 2012, and the IHS Senior Pharmacist of the Year Award in 2013.

She received her Bachelor’s degree in biological sciences from California State University Fullerton, earned her Doctor of Pharmacy from the University of California San Francisco School of Pharmacy, completed an Ambulatory Care/Administrative Residency at University of California Irvine Medical Center, and is a Board Certified Ambulatory Care Pharmacist.

At Eddington’s invitation, RADM Schweitzer will return to the School in on Sept. 11 to deliver the keynote address at the annual White Coat Ceremony for incoming first year student pharmacists.

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