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P-SHOR Faculty Member Completes Fulbright Fellowship in Finland

Nicole Brandt is the executive director of the Peter Lamy Center on Drug Therapy and Aging.

Nicole Brandt in front of a sign that says Together Shaping the Future.

By Andrew Tie
February 23, 2024

A University of Maryland School of Pharmacy (UMSOP) faculty member spent three weeks in January in Helsinki, Finland, to expand research on older adults as part of a grant from the Fulbright Finland Foundation.

Nicole Brandt, PharmD, MBA, BCGP, FASCP, executive director of the Peter Lamy Center on Drug Therapy and Aging and a professor in the Department of Practice, Sciences, and Health Outcomes Research (P-SHOR), promotes optimal care for older adults through her educational, clinical, and health care policy work. Brandt has advanced numerous geriatrics initiatives at UMSOP, such as residency and fellowship opportunities, the Elder Care Medicine Network, and helping the University of Maryland, Baltimore gain the distinction of an “Age-Friendly University.”

“I am so grateful for all the support that I received on this trip, including from the Fulbright Finland Foundation, the gracious faculty at the University of Helsinki, and the many community members in Finland who lent their voice to our research,” Brandt said. “I am forever grateful for this experience.”

Over the three weeks of her Fulbright Fellowship, Brandt met with a variety of Finnish scholars, thought leaders, and community pharmacists. She visited a senior center and day care unit that is working to be a site for interprofessional learning. Brandt participated in seminars to discuss community pharmacies as part of primary care in the United States, challenges in community pharmacists’ work duties, availability of workforce, potential solutions to challenges, aging in place, and how to improve medication safety and outcomes for older Finns.

“Dr. Brandt is one of the leading health care practitioners dedicated to improving the lives of older adults through optimizing medication safety and use,” said Jill A. Morgan, PharmD, BCPS, BCPPS, FNAP, professor and chair of P-SHOR. “She proved to be an excellent choice for this fellowship due to her diligent efforts in extending age-friendly care to various other nations.”

Brandt had three main objectives during the fellowship.

  1. Create new strategies that foster competencies in interprofessional collaboration in geriatric care, particularly in managing older adults’ medications.
  2. Develop an actionable co-designed demonstration to increase the knowledge, skills, and integration within the interprofessional team to contribute to person-centered medication use management across care settings.
  3. Increase patients’, clinicians’, and other stakeholders’ awareness of pharmacists’ competencies and potential role(s) to improve medication use and safety in older adults.

This fellowship is not the first interactions with Finland for Brandt. She has collaborated with Finnish scholars in the past and has a personal connection to the country through her husband’s family.

“It was immensely rewarding and enlightening to be welcomed warmly and incorporated into so many aspects of care delivery for older Finns,” Brandt said. “These experiences and memories will help to improve the delivery of our collaborative work as well as the content. Furthermore, it raised the awareness between practitioners and learners about models of care to improve medication use and safety.”

Dr. Marja Airaksinen, a pharmacy professor at the University of Helsinki, served as her main faculty host in January. Brandt said the most important outcomes of the fellowship was the strengthening of relationships and a deeper appreciation of the culture.

“This experience has reenergized my battery and reinforced the importance of our work,” Brandt said. “I look forward to continued collaboration that will help make Finland a more age friendly country, leverage the role of pharmacists on the interprofessional team, and increase participation of older adults and those that care for them.”

Ongoing work is planned to expand the aging in place curriculum online, as well as community-based partnerships in Maryland and Finland to expand age friendly efforts.

For more information on this experience, please read this three-part blog series authored by Brandt during the trip.

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