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Mike Rivey knows all about pain.
And not just because at age 50 the UM pharmacy professor decided to take up ice hockey. Rivey, who has taught at UM for the past 19 years, was a pain expert long before he strapped on skates to make his debut in a Missoula men's hockey league.
In fact, his work in pain management at Missoula's Community Medical Center helped Rivey earn UM's prestigious John Ruffatto Memorial Award -- given annually to a faculty member who provides outstanding service to the local business community.
"Mike was very deserving," says Dave Forbes, dean of the UM School of Pharmacy and Allied Health Sciences. "Mike's a real good teacher and down to earth in that he gets things done. If you want something done, go to Mike."
From his perspective, all Rivey will say about winning the award, which carried a $3,500 stipend, is that "it's nice as a University faculty member to be recognized for efforts to improve care in the actual patient-care setting."
But his work at the 135-bed Community Medical Center -- where he serves as a consultant and teacher in UM's clinical pharmacy program, speaks for itself. Rivey helped implement a pain management program -- or protocol as it's referred to in medical and academic circles -- at Community. He borrowed from a program already in place at St. Patrick Hospital under the direction of pharmacist Lee Ann Bradley.
Under the program, guidelines are provided for pharmacists and nurses to help manage patients' pain. Rivey also took the pain program one step further -- expanding on it to develop a specific protocol for nausea and vomiting after surgery. Through Rivey's program, health care professionals at Community have specific guidelines to help treat post-surgery nausea and vomiting.
The pain management program is just one example of the solid partnership the UM pharmacy school has formed with Community Medical Center. Through the efforts of Rivey and others, there are now more opportunities for UM pharmacy students to get practical training, while earning their degrees. Such a relationship dovetails with UM pharmacy curriculum, which requires students to get practical training in pharmacies.
"Our programs are very patient-based. We try to get students involved with actual programs and facilitate drug therapy in patients," Rivey says.
Rivey, who holds bachelor's and master's degrees in pharmacy from the University of Iowa, also has helped the hospital give pharmacists a bigger role in patient care.
"Pharmacists are experts on drugs," Rivey says. "Most physicians are very happy to see pharmacists become more involved. It's time-consuming work and difficult to keep up with. It saves doctors a lot of time. They don't have to come back every six to eight hours to check medication. There's always a pharmacist there, able to provide service."
Rivey says for the past 20 to 30 years, there have been concerted efforts in the medical community for pharmacists to become more involved in drug therapy for patients. He says when pharmacists and physicians team up there is less chance for error.
"The doctor has to prescribe the drug. Once the decision is made, we may weigh in on the way the drug is dosed and assessed in the patient," Rivey says. "We come look at the person's weight and set the dosage. After a period of time, we go back and do lab tests. Based on the patient's response to drugs, we can increase or decrease the dosage. We also order blood tests and assess the results of blood tests.
"What clinical pharmacy is all about is being more involved with the patient's drug therapy. It alleviates the doctor's workload."
While Community Medical Center benefits through its relationship with Rivey and other UM faculty members, the pharmacy school also gains a great deal from the partnership. "It really allows us to role model for students," Rivey says, adding that he has about four or five student "clerks" at the hospital year-round. Interacting with doctors and nurses is a big part of a pharmacist's job, Rivey says.
"Students need to learn how to work with physicians," he says. And by making regular rounds at the hospital, Rivey says he is able to become a more effective classroom teacher. "I see patients on a daily basis. I get to look at drug therapy in patients. When I'm lecturing on a topic, I can say that I just had a patient two weeks ago and he had the disease we are talking about. This is the way treatment went.
"It keeps me fresh and current in the practice. It gives me a perspective of what's really going on vs. what's in a textbook."
Dean Forbes says he can't say enough about how important the practical side of a pharmacy education is to a student's success in later years. "Our students now spend their whole last year at clinical sites. If we didn't have clinical sites ... we would be out of business. We wouldn't be accredited," Forbes says. "It's important for us to develop this area. (Rivey's) been a leader in breaking new ground."
Forbes also believes the mentorship Rivey provides for students is vital to their education. "What he does is have a clinical base where he works with physicians and other healthcare providers. He helps provide pharmaceutical care. While doing that he's a role model. He has students with him so they can learn on the job. That's so important."
-- By Gary Jahrig