Faculty Highlight: Jeannie Lee

How will the expansion and renovation of the Skaggs building help your research or teaching abilities?

The expansion and renovation of the Skaggs building will improve teaching and collaboration of the two departments. Having space conducive for better student learning is very important as we innovate our teachings to include interactive sessions that promote active learning, in place of passive lectures. With improved teaching space, faculty are able to become more creative in our teaching that targets students with varied learning styles.  Collaboration of the two departments is good for students, research and the college. With the curriculum transformation efforts underway, we are meeting and working as teams between the two departments more than ever before. We want to help students connect the dots between basic science courses and clinical courses to become competent pharmacist providers. With more options for students to explore related fields to pharmacy, our new curriculum (PharmD Forward Curriculum) is poised to produce pharmacy leaders. Faculty in both departments are passionate about this goal and need to work together continuously, and a broken Skaggs elevator must not stand in our way. As faculty get to know each other better, we are more apt to find common grounds in research and collaborate to multiply productivity.

What is your research or clinical area of expertise?

My clinical areas are geriatrics and interprofessional care. I truly believe in person-centered care provided by interprofessional teams to treat the whole patient and optimize health outcomes. My research is in medication adherence, so patient-care related, and always involve collaborating in interprofessional teams. I am usually the only pharmacist or clinician on the team, so am honored to represent pharmacy and patient perspectives. We are currently working to discover associations among health beliefs, health literacy and medication adherence in low-income, underserved (some refugee) populations with chronic disease - RxHL. In another project, we are working to develop a smartphone application with a companion website to support medication adherence in older adults with hypertension - Medication Education, Decision Support, Reminding and Monitoring (MEDSReM).

Are you working on any interesting project, research, or initiatives? Please share.

Both of my research projects on adherence are unique in that we have cultivated special interprofessional partnerships. In the RxHL project, I am working with a medical anthropologist and a team of community health center staff in Massachusetts. I have learned a lot about serving the underserved and the study of people, not just as patients. In the MEDSReM project, I am working with a cognitive aging experts, human factors researchers and a local developer to create the system of smartphone application and companion website. We also have a panel of older adults as experts in aging and antihypertensive medications users. Some critics say that older people don't use technology, but we are convinced that the use of smartphones among aging adults will only increase, and hope that our system will support their independence at home as long as possible.

Why did you choose to be a pharmacist or a researcher?

I wanted to be a helping professional, and pharmacy profession seemed the right fit for my personality and interests. However, the pharmacy profession has changed so much since I have been a pharmacist, and very exciting changes are yet to come. I started to study medication adherence because that was the #1 problem among my older patients when I was working as a clinical pharmacist. Quickly realizing that education alone does not address nonadherence, I looked for creative ways to support patients.

What advice would you give to PharmD students?

To identify your passion and follow hard after it.

Where do you see the pharmacy profession going?

I see pharmacy profession making a huge difference in team-based patient care and contributing to prevention as well as disease and medication management. I hope we achieve a provider status and practice at the top of our licenses to impact patient outcomes and experience.

How has the pharmacy profession changed since you began your practice?

The pharmacy professional has changed greatly to be more patient care-focused. Though some pharmacists are still challenged with the tasks of dispensing medications as quickly as possible with the wait-time looming over them, that was the case for vast majority of pharmacists when I started my practice. We are becoming more innovative with providing clinical services and in carving out a patient care role for as medication experts.

What is your favorite memory at the UA?

Hooding the PharmD students and giving them their first congratulations hug at the commencement.

What is something that most wouldn't know about you?

As an immigrant girl, I struggled to learn English (starting with ABCs) when I was 12. I majored in Arts before pharmacy.