Former NACDS Foundation Faculty Scholar Kimberly McKeirnan has accomplished a lot in advancing patient access to care in the wake of her experience as a scholar.

Kimberly McKeirnan remembers that even as a child growing up in a small town in Washington she was frustrated when someone got sick because they would have to drive to the next largest town to be able to access care. She said, “Just because you choose to live in a rural area doesn’t mean you should have reduced access to healthcare.”

McKeirnan, a former NACDS Foundation Faculty Scholar, graduated from the Washington State University College of Pharmacy in 2008 and then worked for Albertson’s as a staff pharmacist and pharmacy manager for five years. In 2015, McKeirnan applied for an NACDS Foundation Faculty Scholarship. She had experience in pharmacy practice and teaching but wanted to expand more into research because she felt practice-based research would be a good fit. She applied for the grant with the goal of finding out if expanded services for pharmacists would work for all parties—pharmacists, patients and physicians.

McKeirnan decided to focus her NACDS Foundation Faculty Scholars research on the potential for rural community pharmacists to work with rural community physicians to improve patient access to care. Her project results showed physicians, pharmacists, and pharmacy patients in rural communities supported implementing pharmacist treatment of minor ailments and conditions. All parties also agreed that the need for minor ailments and conditions treatment services in rural communities already exists.

McKeirnan credits her participation in the NACDS Foundation Faculty Scholars program with inspiring her work on creating an accredited training pilot program for pharmacy technicians in Idaho so they can administer immunizations. She said, “I’m not sure I would have had the knowledge or the confidence to jump into that if it hadn’t been for this program.”

In working with the mentors on her project, Kim Coley, PharmD and Melissa Somma McGivney, PharmD, at the University of Pittsburgh, McKeirnan also learned about a research center they have at the University and was inspired to start the Center for Pharmacy Practice Research at Washington State University. She made it happen and is now the director of the center. She said, “I would attribute a large part of the success of that to the work I did as an NACDS Foundation Faculty Scholar.”

McKeirnan said her work now is focused on advancing patient care through pharmacy-led interventions. She said, “Improving patient access to quality care and enhancing integration are essential elements in our healthcare system.”