SPOKANE, Wash.—Gerald G. Briggs, class of 1968, received the 2016 Distinguished Service Award from the Washington State University College of Pharmacy.

Briggs was presented the award in Spokane on April 13, and was also recognized at the college’s Celebrating Generosity event on April 22.

Briggs was selected for the award for his exemplary service to the profession of pharmacy and his contributions to WSU.

Briggs is an expert in obstetrics (OB) pharmacy and co-created a textbook on the subject titled, “Diseases, Complications, and Drug Therapy in Obstetrics.”

Briggs saw the benefit of having a pharmacist on the health care team with OB doctors and nurses. In 2014, he personally funded a WSU OB pharmacy residency at the Maternal-Fetal Medicine (MFM) Clinic in Spokane. His goal was to demonstrate the value of a pharmacist on OB teams and develop a “best practice” model of care that can be duplicated in other hospitals.

Briggs spoke with two of the physicians at the MFM Clinic to explain the idea for the obstetrics residency. He called on Linda Garrelts MacLean, an associate dean at WSU, who teamed up with the director of pharmacy at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center (PSHMC) to design the residency.

Alyson Blum, class of 2014, was the first OB pharmacy resident at the WSU College of Pharmacy.

Blum is now a clinical assistant professor for the WSU College of Pharmacy. Her objective this past year has been to lecture pregnancy topics for many courses in the Doctor of Pharmacy program, and she will also serve as instructor of record for the online OB pharmacy elective.

Her research focus is also on obstetrics. Blum will study the cost effectiveness of having a pharmacist in charge of managing a pregnant patient’s diabetes medication therapy. Pharmacists typically have more time than physicians for patient education, she said, freeing doctors to focus on diagnosis and complex cases. This translates into better patient care, which is what she aims to show through her research.

“High blood sugar is so toxic for babies,” said Blum. “Pregnant women need and want someone who really understands insulin. A drug expert (pharmacist) makes a good fit in that role.”

Blum’s faculty appointment is part of a pilot project sponsored by Briggs.

“The contributions Gerald has made to WSU through the OB online course, pharmacy residency and now our faculty position will continue to make a profound impact on the quality of pharmacy education offered at WSU and, in turn, the quality of care our pharmacists provide to their patients,” said Linda Garrelts MacLean, an associate dean for the college.

Briggs was honored in 2008 as the College of Pharmacy’s Outstanding Alumnus of the Year, and last year was recognized as a new WSU benefactor. Benefactors are those who have reached the cumulative giving milestone of $100,000 or more to the College of Pharmacy.

[May 13, 2016] By: Lori J. Maricle