SPOKANE, Wash.—Patients who receive organ transplants must receive immunosuppressive drugs to prevent rejection, which is why pharmacists are an integral part of the multidisciplinary transplant team. For pharmacists seeking to practice in this area, most of the training and knowledge of transplant-related problems are acquired on the job after pharmacy school. While Washington State University has offered electives on immunology/transplantation to student pharmacists in the past, it is not part of the core curriculum of the program.

But now starting in 2019 through a new partnership with Vitalant (formally Inland Northwest Blood Center), the WSU College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences (CPPS) will offer a special summer internship for students in its Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) program focused on providing education and experience in transfusion and transplantation medicine.

Ellen Klohe, who directs Vitalant’s transplant laboratory, envisions that the partnership will offer students an opportunity to see how genetics, immunology and cell biology translate into critical clinical services performed at the blood center. By providing a basis for understanding transfusion and transplantation medicine, students will extrapolate that knowledge to emerging cellular therapies.

“Students will see first-hand the integral role blood centers play in providing life-saving products and services for the medical community,” Linda Garrelts MacLean of WSU CPPS said.

According to MacLean, the eight-week internship is designed for student pharmacists in their second year of the Pharm.D. program. The goal of the student summer internship is to provide an opportunity for future pharmacists to gain early experience and familiarity with blood center operations, blood products and blood center-based clinical services. Student pharmacists will be able to see first-hand the relationship between community blood centers and the medical community, and the importance of blood products and services in medical practice.

“This internship will prepare them to take patient assessment and evaluation skills to a higher level, and introduce them to the role of pharmacists as important members of the medical community’s interdisciplinary team,” MacLean said.

The partnership between Vitalant and WSU CPPS is funded through the Blood Center Foundation of the Inland Northwest’s community grant program supporting education, research and technology.

This is an example of how the WSU Doctor of Pharmacy program provides a transformative student experience and develops outstanding health care professionals and leaders in pharmacy. The college has a longstanding reputation of preparing the pharmacists of the future who will lead tomorrow’s health care solutions through innovation, collaboration and leadership.