Training at Pregnancy Riskline Helps U Pharmacy Students

Training at Pregnancy Riskline Helps U Pharmacy Students

Dec 8, 2004 5:00 PM

Training Helps Students Understand Harmful Effects of Medications on Fetuses

The Pregnancy RiskLine--a 20-year-old service that advises physicians and pregnant and breast-feeding women about the harmful effects that medications, chemicals, and maternal illnesses may have on a fetus--has joined with the University of Utah College of Pharmacy to train candidates in the doctor of pharmacy (Pharm.D.) program.

Pharm.D. students now have the option to serve a six-week rotation at the Pregnancy RiskLine, a service of the U of U Health Sciences Center and the Utah Department of Health, to fulfill their requirement for medical information retrieval, according to Elizabeth W. Young, Pharm.D., assistant dean of experiential education and assistant professor of pharmacotherapy.

The U's Pharm.D. degree is geared for students to become practicing pharmacists in hospitals, clinics or retail settings, according to Young. Pregnant women often depend on their pharmacists to answer questions about the potential harm that drugs and other chemicals can cause a fetus.

"By serving a rotation at the Pregnancy RiskLine students can gain the extra knowledge base to have confidence to answer those questions," Young said.

Pharm.D. students began rotating at the Pregnancy RiskLine in July. Students familiarize themselves with teratology--the study of the effects of drugs, chemicals, and maternal illnesses on the fetus. They also complete extensive readings and attend lectures by pediatric geneticist John C. Carey, M.D., professor of pediatrics and medical director of Pregnancy RiskLine, Nancy C. Rose, M.D., associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology who specializes in high-risk pregnancies, and Pregnancy RiskLine staffers.

Up to 16 students a year can rotate through the program to advance their knowledge in teratology and improve their communication skills and abilities to evaluate professional literature, Young said.

The Pregnancy RiskLine counsels more than 12,000 physicians and individuals every year, mostly through telephone inquiries, but also educational outreach, said Lynn Martinez, program manager.

She said the Pregnancy RiskLine has led or participated in 11 studies evaluating the harmful effects to fetuses of specific drugs, including SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) found in many antidepressants, ACE (angiotensin-converting enzyme) inhibitors, used to lower blood pressure, and the acne medicine Accutane.

"People don't know the exposure risks sometimes," Martinez said. "That's where we help."

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