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Three School of Pharmacy Faculty Members Honored at MPhA Annual Meeting

Awards presentation recognizes faculty members’ excellence in pharmacy practice and dedication to advancing the profession.

By Malissa Carroll
June 24, 2014

Three faculty members from the Department of Pharmacy Practice and Science (PPS) at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy have been named the recipients of prestigious statewide awards from the Maryland Pharmacists Association (MPhA).

Deanna Tran, PharmD, assistant professor in PPS, is the 2014 recipient of MPhA’s Distinguished Young Pharmacist Award, which is presented each year to a pharmacist who has graduated within the past 10 years and has made a significant contribution to the profession through service to a local, state, or national pharmacy organization.

“Since joining the School of Pharmacy in 2012, Dr. Tran has proven herself to be an exemplary pharmacy practitioner,” says Magaly Rodriguez de Bittner, PharmD, BCPS, CDE, FAPhA, professor and chair of PPS. “Her dedication to advancing the pharmacy profession and commitment to empowering new practitioners is evident through her work with numerous local, state, and national professional organizations. As a resident, she served as chair of professional development for the Virginia Pharmacists Association’s New Practitioner Academy before returning to Maryland, where she established MPhA’s New Practitioner Network. She also remains involved with the American Pharmacists Association’s (APhA) New Practitioner Network, for which she serves on several standing committees. We are fortunate to have her as a member of our faculty.”

Tran graduated from the School of Pharmacy in 2011. She completed a one-year community pharmacy residency at Virginia Commonwealth University and Martin’s Pharmacy. Her research and teaching focus on community pharmacy practice, including medication therapy management, diabetes, immunizations, travel health, point-of-care testing, and over-the-counter medications. She currently serves as a clinical programs consultant to Giant Pharmacy.

“As a recent graduate of the School of Pharmacy, it was truly an honor to be recognized with this award,” says Tran. “When I graduated, I was surprised to find that there weren’t many networking opportunities or continuing education programs available for new practitioners. I knew that I wanted to change that. Through my work with organizations such as APhA and MPhA, I believe that I am making a difference and helping new practitioners become more involved with the profession. The best part is that I have an opportunity to work on projects that I love, and it is rewarding to be recognized for work that you truly enjoy.”

Mary Lynn McPherson, PharmD, BCPS, CPE, professor and vice chair for education in PPS, is this year’s recipient of MPhA’s Seidman Distinguished Achievement Award, which recognizes her important contributions to the association, organized pharmacy, and the pharmacy profession.

An international authority in the fields of pain management and palliative care, McPherson has maintained a practice in hospice and palliative care, as well as ambulatory care, throughout her career. She teaches extensively in the School’s Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) program and developed one of the first palliative care pharmacy residency programs in the United States, for which she currently serves as director.

“With so many outstanding pharmacists in Maryland, I am especially honored and humbled to have been chosen for this prestigious award,” says McPherson. “Being selected for an award like this reinforces the belief that my colleagues support my work to advance the practice of pain management and palliative care pharmacy. I have always been passionate about end-of-life care and the education of both student and practicing pharmacists. It is gratifying to learn that others agree that this work, to which I have dedicated my career, is important.”

In addition to leading the School’s Pain and Palliative Care Pharmacy Residency Program, McPherson serves on the board of the Hospice Network of Maryland and is president of the American Society of Pain Educators. She has written four books on the topics of pain management and palliative care, including the best-selling Demystifying Opioid Conversion Calculations: A Guide to Effective Dosing.

“Dr. McPherson’s contributions to the pharmacy profession, particularly in the fields of pain management and palliative care, are unparalleled,” says Rodriguez de Bittner, who nominated McPherson for the award. “Her dedication to meeting the specialized pharmaceutical care needs of patients with advanced and terminal illnesses and to the education of hospice and palliative care practitioners has earned her numerous awards and made her sought after for her expertise. She is actively involved in numerous professional organizations and regularly testifies before legislators at the local, state, and national level about important medication-related issues. As a role model, she inspires excellence in both her students and colleagues. I can think of no one more deserving of this esteemed award.”

MPhA’s Cardinal Health Generation Rx Champions Award has been awarded to Bethany DiPaula, PharmD, BCPP, associate professor in PPS, in recognition of her outstanding commitment to raising awareness about the dangers of prescription drug abuse among the general public and the pharmacy community.

DiPaula received her PharmD from the School of Pharmacy, where she also completed a psychiatric pharmacy specialty residency. She now serves as director of that residency program and is a board certified psychiatric pharmacist with practices in both inpatient and outpatient psychiatry and substance abuse.

“Receiving this award holds a lot of personal significance for me,” says DiPaula. “I have focused my career on the management of substance abuse disorders in patients with comorbid psychiatric disorders. There is an epidemic of opioid use disorder in the United States. As pharmacists, we have the expertise and skills necessary to successfully partner with other health care providers to improve patient care and outcomes for individuals with these conditions, which is why I continue to advocate for our involvement in this important area.”

Under the guidance of Raymond Love, PharmD, BCPP, FASHP, professor in PPS and director of the School’s Mental Health Program, DiPaula has developed a buprenorphine/naloxone maintenance program with the Howard County Health Department. Buprenorphine/naloxone is one of the most commonly used drugs to help patients recover from opioid abuse. Through her program, she works collaboratively with physicians to assess and manage opioid-dependent patients. She was the first pharmacist in Maryland to receive approval from the Maryland Board of Pharmacy for her pharmacist-physician opioid use disorder collaborative practice protocol.

Love, who has known DiPaula since her time as a student pharmacist at the School and nominated her for this award, says, “Dr. DiPaula is a national pharmacist leader in substance abuse treatment and education. She is an innovator who has dedicated her career to providing clinical pharmacy services to patients with substance abuse disorders and teaching health care professionals and students alike about the pharmacologic management of addiction and prescription drug abuse. Her pharmacist-physician collaborative practice model at the Howard County Health Department serves as a model for the development of new pharmacist-led efforts to improve patient care for patients with substance drug abuse.”

Tran, McPherson, and DiPaula received their awards at MPhA’s 132nd Annual Convention, held June 13-16 in Ocean City, Md.

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