The NCS Pharmacy Section: Small in Numbers, Large in Impact
Published on: September 21, 2023
The Neurocritical Care Society (NCS) is a diverse and inclusive interprofessional society. This is profoundly reflected in the attitudes of its members and the committee and section structure of the Society. A robust example of the interprofessional culture of the society is its inclusiveness of pharmacists throughout the organization. As a minority profession in health care, pharmacists have struggled for decades to gain acceptance and recognition for their unique contributions to patient care. Fortunately, pharmacists found a welcoming home in NCS and flourished in this collegial interprofessional atmosphere.
Early in the establishment of the society, pioneering neurocritical care pharmacists established the groundwork for the future success of pharmacists in the society. Accepting challenging assignments and going the extra mile in the early days were examples of how a few members had a big impact. This impact lives on today. Despite pharmacists comprising just over 10% of NCS membership, the Pharmacy Section of the Society is highly involved and productive. This is due overwhelmingly to the active engagement of individual pharmacists. Pharmacists are represented on nearly all NCS committees with many holding prominent leadership roles. To foster this active engagement, the Pharmacy Section leadership team meets monthly. Members report on their current activities within the Society and discuss participation and impact on other NCS initiatives. Consistent with the spirit of innovation fostered by the Society, the section continuously seeks new ways to contribute and celebrate accomplishments and plans for future projects.
The Pharmacy Section actively uses the “Get Involved Campaign” to identify members that are ready to take the next steps in becoming more active in the Society. Mentorship and team-building help junior members feel welcomed so they may begin fully contributing. New members are frequently asked to work on new or established projects and committees. Additionally, all first-time pharmacist attendees to the annual meeting are assigned a “buddy” from the Pharmacy Section leadership group to help new attendees feel welcomed, introduce them to the Society and the Section, and facilitate networking.
While the contributions of pharmacists to the Society are diverse, the Section focuses its energy in the areas of research, education, and advocacy. To achieve research goals, the section has a research sub-committee that meets regularly to organize ideas for new studies, facilitate collaboration, and organize multi-center investigations. A recent successful example of this collaboration culminated with a study published in Pharmacotherapy which compared different nimodipine preparations and administration routes on tolerability and clinical outcomes1. In the area of education, the Pharmacotherapy of Neurocritical Care Series (PONS) continues to evolve and offer new products such as the “mini PONS,” which are brief pharmacotherapy discussions on a variety of clinical topics. Collaborating with the NCS Podcast, many PONS products are featured there in a podcast format. The Section also organizes its own journal clubs focusing on neurocritical care pharmacotherapy. The events are popular, reaching a large audience as demonstrated by strong social media metrics. This year the journal clubs expanded to 8 programs annually, averaging more than 60 live attendees per session and a continuously growing number of YouTube views.
On the advocacy front, the Pharmacy section is quickly recovering after disruptions caused by the pandemic. In 2022, the Invited Clinical Pharmacist (ICP) program made a strong return supporting two in-person visits. The purpose of the ICP program is to promote and increase the practice of neurocritical care pharmacy by sending qualified neurocritical care pharmacists to the selected institutions that wish to expand or initiate neurocritical care pharmacy services. Supported by NCS, these visits help institutions by providing the tools needed to advocate for adding pharmacy services. Additionally, the ICP program can be used to help foster the growth and development of a new pharmacy practitioner and assist with opening new critical care units. The program continued this year with Dr. Casey May visiting Infirmary Health in Mobile, Alabama. Her visit was crucial to help the institution develop a closed neurocritical care unit slated to launch next year. Interested institutions and practitioners should consider applying for the program.
One of the best indicators of the vibrancy of the Pharmacy Section is the number of members who have achieved Fellowship status in the Society. Recognizing exceptional service, academic excellence, and leadership in the field of neurocritical care, FNCS status has been awarded to 20 pharmacists in the Society since the award’s inception in 2013. In the last two years alone, the number of pharmacists achieving FNCS status almost quadrupled from the average number of all previous years. With a strong FNCS showing this year, 2023 is on track to continue that indicator of excellence. More importantly, pharmacist members with FNCS status continue to remain engaged in the Society. Many have gone on to serve as Committee Chairs and on the Board of Directors, with one also serving as a Past-President of the Society. These are just a few examples of the exemplary contributions made by pharmacists to the Society. The Section is thankful to contribute and collaborate with all who comprise the Neurocritical Care Society.
1. Mahmoud SH, Hefny FR, Panos NG, Delucilla L, Ngan Z, Perreault MM, et al. Comparison of nimodipine formulations and administration techniques via enteral feeding tubes in patients with aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage: A multicenter retrospective cohort study. Pharmacotherapy: The Journal of Human Pharmacology and Drug Therapy. 2023;43(4):279-90. doi: https://doi.org/10.1002/phar.2791.