Psychiatric pharmacy – a role for those who enjoy caring and communicating
Professor M Lynn Crismon is the Behrens Centennial Professor of Pharmacy and Professor of Psychiatry at Dell Medical School at the University of Texas at Austin. In this series of interviews he describes some of the many ways in which pharmacists can contribute to the care of people with mental health problems and improve the effective use of psychotropic medicines. He received the 2021 American Society of Health System Pharmacists award for excellence in pharmacy practice leadership. IMI spoke to him to find out more about his work in psychiatry, psychopharmacology and the US Public Health service.
He argues that there are good reasons for pharmacists to specialise in psychiatry. “Medications are one of the primary treatment modalities for mental disorders and so it just sort of makes it ideal that pharmacists would be involved – particularly pharmacists who really enjoy interacting with people and communicating”, he explains.
Early in his career Professor Lynn Crismon worked in the US Public Health Service on the Navajo reservation. Here he explains what conditions were like and how he was called to assist with a case of bubonic plague soon after being posted to the Navajo reservation.
A later posting took him to a 35-bed hospital in Winslow, Arizona. He recalls that there was no psychiatrist on the entire Navajo reservation and patients had to be sent to a town some 60 miles away if a psychiatric consultation was required. He took responsibility for following up patients who were receiving psychotropic medication and his interest and expertise in the field grew. Later he was able to use his expertise to contribute to prescribing guidelines and algorithms to optimise the use of psychotropic drugs and minimise overprescribing.
He says that the coronavirus pandemic has had a huge impact on mental health in general but especially on health care workers and on children. In the fourth video he reflects on some of the problems that this has caused and how some of the difficulties might be addressed.
“Psychiatric pharmacy is really all about people and working with people and caring for people”, says Professor Crismon. It is an area of therapeutics that offers wide variety of opportunities for progressive pharmacy practice in primary and secondary care.