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Embedded pharmacist proves crucial to efficient WBAMC inpatient operations

Maj. Tanisha Currie, officer-in-charge, Inpatient Surgical Unit, William Beaumont Army Medical Center, stands alongside Dr. Allison Paynter, pharmacist, Inpatient Surgical Unit, WBAMC, in a show of the relationship Surgical Unit nurses have with Paynter, the sole pharmacist for the unit, at the Inpatient Surgical Unit, Aug. 8. Paynter was recently recognized with the unit’s Nurse Excellence Award, an award traditionally reserved for nurses but presented to Paynter during August for her countless contributions to the unit’s operations and efficiency.

Story by Marcy Sanchez

William Beaumont Army Medical Center Public Affairs Office

The Inpatient Surgical Unit at William Beaumont Army Medical Center has a history of bursting with teamwork evidenced by the unit’s numerous employee appreciation luncheons, officer development opportunities and their own employee of the month recognition labeled the Nurse Excellence Award.

The unit’s Nurse Excellence Award typically recognizes a nurse each month, which makes up the majority of the unit’s staff. During the month of August the unit recognized another key team member whose efforts have contributed to the inpatient ward’s efficient performance, the unit’s sole pharmacist.

“It’s recognition of someone going over and beyond their job,” said Maj. Tanisha Currie, officer-in-charge, Inpatient Surgical Unit, WBAMC. “Ever since I’ve known her she’s had an incredible work ethic, always looking out for the nurses, pharmacy and patients.”

Dr. Allison Paynter, an El Paso native and WBAMC team member since 2009, was recognized with the award for her contributions to the unit.

“The award was a surprise but it meant a lot to me because I admire the nurses and the staff a lot,” said Paynter. “(The recognition) coming from them makes me want to do more.”

While Paynter’s role is not unique, the hospital also operates an around-the-clock inpatient pharmacy and embeds pharmacists at several outpatient and inpatient units, her impact in the unit goes beyond patient care.

“(Paynter) is very instrumental in teaching our nurses,” said Currie. “When she’s not here we definitely notice it, she’s always in the background streamlining the process.”

In a unit heavily relying on prescription medications to treat patients post-surgery, Paynter’s proactive efforts are instrumental and she continuously trains nurses on medication ordering and interaction, increasing patient safety at the unit.

“A lot of places don’t have nurses and pharmacists working side-by-side,” said Paynter. “Because of the set up (at WBAMC) we’re able to work with the nurses a lot easier, it helps with communication, helps solve patients’ issues a lot quicker, and we have input on policy and protocols in both pharmacy and nursing operations.”

“In a sense, it’s right on target for pharmacy to be synced in with the medication process. Paynter is able to understand the nursing perspective and pharmacy processes,” said Currie, a Chicago native. “She’s awesome in marrying those processes together and meets every nurse’s, soldier’s and medic’s need, and knows the patients.”

In a field where nurses and physicians are recognized by patients for treating illness, Paynter’s role is modest and typically overlooked by outsiders.

“If I’m doing my job you won’t notice anything is happening because we’re fixing things before it becomes an issue,” said Paynter. “We work behind the scenes to improve patient safety.”

Paynter credits WBAMC leaders for their support and effectiveness of the pharmacy role in the Inpatient Surgical Unit which she states has led to improvements in operations at WBAMC.

“Because we get to work more closely with each other it’s a lot quicker to align policies and it flows a lot easier,” said Paynter. “It’s a great working relationship and overall is better for the patients, we work quicker, we work safer and it’s just more effective.”

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