Johnsrud Celebrated for Lifetime Achievement

TJ Johnsrud 1

In a symposium held on Thursday, October 9, the College of Pharmacy celebrated the recipient of the 2014 Osterhaus Medal for Lifetime Achievement Award recipient, Thomas J. Johnsrud.

TJ Johnsrud is a 1966 graduate of the college and is the founder and president of NuCara Management Group, LLC, headquartered in Conrad, Iowa, which oversees pharmacy locations in Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, North Dakota and Texas. He has been honored for his commitment to excellence in pharmacy in Iowa with the 1991 Bowl of Hygiea, the 2001 Robert G. Gibbs Distinguished Pharmacist Award, and the 2003 Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Iowa College of Pharmacy.

“TJ exemplifies the spirit of entrepreneurism. His business ventures and professional organizational endeavors serve as testament to his drive, determination, and commitment to advancing pharmacy practice,” said College of Pharmacy Dean Donald E. Letendre. “He has been a lifelong devoted college alumnus and friend to countless pharmacists nationwide.”

Mr. Johnsrud has served as past president and remains a current member of the Iowa Pharmacy Association, where he is chairman of the Task Force on the Iowa Pharmacists New Practice Model. TJ was the first chairman of the board of PACE Alliance multi-state pharmacy buying group. He is a member of the National Community Pharmacists Association, the American Pharmaceutical Association, the National Association of Chain Drugstores, and a lifetime member of the University of Iowa Alumni Association. TJ is currently serving on the Executive Leadership Board of the College of Pharmacy of the University of Iowa. He has served the University of Iowa on the Dean’s Advisory Council for the College of Pharmacy, the College of Pharmacy Second Century Fundraising Campaign Committee, the University of Iowa College Curriculum Advisory Council, and by participating as a President’s Club member since 1983, Golden Hawk member since 1982, and the Kinnick Society since 2003.

The Osterhaus Medal for Lifetime Achievement Award is presented annually to one or more individuals who have made extraordinary achievements in the pharmacy profession. This medal is the pinnacle award given by the University of Iowa College of Pharmacy, for a recipient who has advanced the practice of pharmacy in profound ways, or made substantial strides in drug development or drug discoveries.

NuCara Pilots New Pharmacy Practice Model

Pamela Wong, our Director of Clinical Services, leads an innovative New Pharmacy Practice Model pilot project with four of NuCara’s pharmacy locations: Lenox (Alicia Lynn), Story City (Betty Grinde), Traer (Phyllis McKee), and Washington (Samantha Peterson).
Under the guidance of the New Pharmacy Practice Model Task Force and coordination with the Iowa Board of Pharmacy, a pilot and research demonstration project was designed to ensure safe and effective medication dispensing through a pharmacy technician verification process (i.e., Tech-Check-Tech) in controlled situations in community practice as a means to provide pharmacists the time and resources for clinical pharmacy services. Tech-Check-Tech programs have been effectively implemented across hospitals in Iowa and across the country, but not within a community pharmacy setting. Given the importance of medication therapy to manage chronic conditions, community pharmacists are well-positioned to deliver services, such as medication therapy management (MTM), while addressing medication non-adherence and other medication-related issues.
This is a model of pharmacy practice that enhances patient safety and improves patient health outcomes.  It is important for this new practice model be recognized by patients, other healthcare providers, and payers of healthcare as a valuable service model; reproducible; professionally rewarding; and financially sustainable. All participating pharmacies plan to utilize the full breadth of patient care service offerings including:  medication therapy management (MTM), immunizations, medication synchronization, disease state management, collaborative practice agreements, and care coordination services with local health-systems.
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Current Issues in Health Care: Diabetic Shoe fitting

womensshoeAs our healthcare system continues to evolve, pharmacy as it is practiced today is changing, and hopefully for the better. Here is the last of four topics hat are in the “hot seat” as we round up the first half of 2014:


Pharmacies around the state of Iowa pride themselves as being able to provide more than just prescription and over-the-counter medications. One of these services is the fitting and selling of therapeutic shoes. These are most often for diabetic patients suffering from neuropathy (continual loss of sensation) in their feet. Approximately three months ago, Iowa pharmacies were informed that, starting on July 1st of 2014, it was no longer within their legal means to help patients find the right shoe and minimize their discomfort 7.

Current Standing

After receiving this news, the Iowa Pharmacy Association immediately went to work to resolve this issue. To allow pharmacists to keep providing useful assistance to their patients, IPA met with the Iowa Board of Pharmacy and Attorney General’s Office, other accrediting organizations, and even shoe manufacturers. The IPA’s proactive response led to the Iowa Board of Podiatry and Board of Pharmacy writing a total of eight letters to accrediting organizations and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Within the three months of lobbying, it was determined Iowa pharmacies will be able to continue therapeutic shoe fitting 7.

How are YOU, the patient, affected?

Continuing this service will allow pharmacists to help patients achieve these four objectives in shoe fitting as laid out by the American Orthopedic Foot and Ankle Society: (1) relieve areas of excessive pressure, (2) reduce shock and shear, (3) accommodate, stabilize, and support deformities, and (4) limit the motion of joints to decrease inflammation 8. If you have questions or concerns about diabetic neuropathy, ask your local pharmacist today. Therapeutic shoe fitting is also provided at the majority of NuCara stores.

References for all four topics:

2. As of June 20th, 2014 on
7. Letter from CEO of IPA Kate Gainer on June 19th, 2014. Further questions or requests for information can be emailed to


Current Issues in Health Care: New Practice Model

7990As our healthcare system continues to evolve, pharmacy as it is practiced today is changing, and hopefully for the better. Here is the third of four topics that are in the “hot seat” as we round up the first half of 2014:

New Practice Model


Since 2010, the Iowa Pharmacy Association and its New Practice Model (NPM) Task Force have been developing a practice model to let pharmacists allocate more time for clinical analysis and patient service. The idea is to use technology in place and multiple certified pharmacy technicians to verify prescriptions and free more time up for the pharmacist. Ultimately, the New Practice Model promotes patient safety and desired health outcomes 6.

Current Standing

NuCara and the other participating pharmacies began the statewide pilot project on June 2nd. The technician verification process, otherwise known as the tech-check-tech system, is being closely monitored for errors in real time by pharmacists at these stores. Along with that, IPA is getting biweekly feedback from the stores participating in the pilot. The goal is to expand the model in other community settings by November 2014, and eventually reproduce the model nationwide if it is successful 6.

How are YOU, the patient, affected?

Pharmacists today are equipped with wide-ranging clinical skills. Pending on the success of the pilot, you, as the patient, can expect more time to discuss any health-related concerns with your community pharmacist. Third party pricing decisions have lead some pharmacies to demand their pharmacists to sacrifice time with patients. At NuCara, we want to promote the NPM so pharmacists can apply their knowledge and help their patients! More than just counseling on a new prescription, pharmacists can identify medication interactions, assist in over-the-counter purchases, and directly communicate beneficial medication adjustments to doctors.

Current Issues in Health Care: Ensuring Seniors Access to Local Pharmacies

Couple Enjoying A Game Of GolfAs our healthcare system continues to evolve, pharmacy as it is practiced today is changing, and hopefully for the better. Here is the second of four topics (the first two being current legislation) that are in the “hot seat” as we round up the first half of 2014:

H.R. – 4577: Ensuring Seniors Access to Local Pharmacies


Similar to HR 4190, this legislation would amend the Social Security Act. It also focuses on the same Medicare beneficiary groups as follows: Medically Under-served Areas, Medically Under-served Populations, and Health Professional Shortage Areas. However, the bill is written to affect Part D of Medicare, or the part that is most often used in the pharmacy. Under the law, insurance plans would be required to offer preferred network benefits to pharmacies in the previously defined regions.

Current Standing

Although only introduced in last month, this legislation is also picking up steam and already has bipartisan support from 31 congressional representatives 4. Community pharmacies not in a preferred network currently have to either charge patients more for medications and/or net a loss from providing expected, quality care. An article from late 2013 suggested that there are approximately 1,800 pharmacies that are the only provider in their community. Also astounding is the fact that 91% of all community pharmacy owners and operators were non-preferred; on average, these patients then have to travel 20 miles to a pharmacy that can provide savings promised by their insurance plans 5.

How are YOU, the patient, affected?

Similar to H.R. 4190, patients across the country, including all five states where NuCara practices pharmacy, would benefit from increased access to affordable health care. The choice of where to pick up medications or seek health services should be left up to YOU, the patient, not an insurance plan! The restrictions this legislation absorbs directly improve the chances that your local pharmacy and trusted pharmacist will continue to provide exceptional health services and keep their doors open.

Current Issues in Health Care: Change to Benefit Patients and Pharmacists – A Four Part Series

US Constitution And Scales Of JusticeAs our healthcare system continues to evolve, pharmacy as it is practiced today is changing, and hopefully for the better. Here is the first of four topics (the first two being current legislation) that are in the “hot seat” as we round up the first half of 2014:

H.R. – 4190: The Push for Provider Status


This legislation would amend a portion of the Social Security Act to give pharmacists what is known as “Provider Status.” Specifically, this amends Medicare Part B to include pharmacists in the group of professionals that are reimbursed for professional services. The legislation focuses on Medicare beneficiaries in three separate regions as defined by the US Dept. of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Service Administration (HRSA): Medically Under-served Areas, Medically Under-served Populations, and Health Professional Shortage Areas 1.

Current Standing

Originally introduced in March of 2014 by a Republican congressman from Kentucky, this legislation now has 56 bipartisan co-sponsors 2. It is gaining support by the day as representatives of congress recognize the benefits this bill would provide. Along with having the most expensive health care system in the world, a recent study also finds that, compared to ten other industrialized and powerful countries, the United States has the worst health outcomes 3.

How are YOU, the patient, affected?

Pharmacists are often considered the most accessible healthcare providers. This legislation manages to further increase that patient access. Additionally, it will assist pharmacists in the provision of high quality and cost-effective services that are within the scope of their education. Both individual households and our government are looking for ways to decrease their healthcare expenditure; this amendment could be a starting point! Check and see at if your district’s congressman is a co-sponsor.

Young Receives Award at the Iowa Pharmacy Association’s Annual Meeting

IMG_4073The Iowa Pharmacy Association (IPA) is pleased to announce the 2014 award recipient of Pharmacy Technician of the Year Award goes to Alissa Young, CPhT, of Ames. The award was presented at the Association’s 2014 Annual Meeting Banquet on June 14 in Altoona.

Alissa Young was born and raised in Spencer, IA. Growing up on a farm, she developed a love of all animals at a young age. She moved to Ames in 2005 to attend Iowa State University and graduated in 2010 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Animal Ecology. In October of 2012, Alissa was hired as a pharmacy technician at NuCara pharmacy in Nevada. She became PTCB-certified the following summer. In March of 2013, she made a career move to Zearing to work at the newly-opened NuCara telepharmacy. Alissa enjoys the rewards and challenges of working with innovative telepharmacy technology and helping the people of Zearing in the process. Alissa and her husband Greg, a Civil Engineer, live in Ames with their two Basset hounds, Brutus and Rocky.

The Pharmacy Technician of the Year Award is an award designed to recognize a pharmacy technician in Iowa who has demonstrated outstanding involvement in the Iowa Pharmacy Association and enthusiasm for the profession of pharmacy in Iowa.

Alissa’s nominator said, “Alissa has a great work ethic and exemplifies the potential brilliant career that one can have as a pharmacy technician and we are grateful to have her on our team.”