Angela Thompson, PhD, PharmD, CGP, recently received her certification to be a Geriatric Pharmacist.
Licensure to practice the profession of pharmacy requires passing a licensure examination. This licensure exam covers a very broad range of topics and knowledge. However, the basic licensure examination does not ensure that the pharmacist has an in-depth knowledge of geriatric drug therapy.
With the aging of the baby boomer population, pharmacists are starting to look at treating their patients in a new way. What is different about older adults is the common presence of multiple diseases at the same time, along with multiple medications. Older adults also frequently have diminished kidney and liver function, which may require different doses or the use of different medicines than in younger adults.
Angela Thompson, Pharmacist at NuCara Pharmacy in Valley City, ND, recognized the need for further education and was recently certified as a Geriatric Pharmacist by the Commission for Certification in Geriatric Pharmacy. Thompson operates NuCara Long Term Care Pharmacy, located within 170 bed skilled care facility. NuCara is the onsite provider pharmacy and Thompson serves as the consultant pharmacist.
“The geriatric pharmacist knows that the focus must be on the total patient, looking at all of the diseases and all of the medicines to evaluate appropriateness of drug therapy,” says Thompson. “The geriatric pharmacist also knows that the elderly are subject to conditions, such as falls, delirium, and cognitive impairment, which are not usually a concern in younger adults.”
The contributions of the Certified Geriatric Pharmacist are especially important as the population continues to age. Drug therapy must be evaluated with respect to the potential for medications to cause or worsen these “geriatric syndromes.”
How a Certified Geriatric Pharmacist Can Help Reduce Risk for Medication-related Problems
The Certified Geriatric Pharmacist (CGP) has passed a comprehensive examination to demonstrate knowledge and expertise in the use of medicines in older adults. These pharmacists are entitled to put the initials “CGP” after their name. Almost 2,000 pharmacists have achieved the CGP credential. Some of these pharmacists, like Thompson, provide consultations to older adults.
Many older adults have complex medication regimens, involving multiple medications from multiple prescribers. In many cases, a caregiver (such as a relative) may be providing assistance with managing the medications. In these situations, CGP can be a valuable addition to the team. The CGP can:
- Partner with you and other health professionals to help ensure appropriate use of medications
- Help evaluate benefits and risks of the medications
- Answer questions about the medications