Klinker and Venugopalan, who both specialize in infectious diseases, were the first team established as part of the model. Klinker was hired as a clinical associate professor in August 2015. He took on the 70 percent academic/30 percent clinical role, while Venugopalan, who started a few months later in January 2016, holds the 70 percent clinical/30 percent academic role.
“We work well as a group and that partnership has been key here,” Venugopalan, a clinical assistant professor of pharmacotherapy and translational research, said. “We have done a good job of realizing that each person brings something to the table, and each person’s piece makes up a whole.”
The idea to start a model like this came after Julie Johnson, Pharm.D., became dean of the college in 2013. One of her goals was to strengthen the relationship between the college and the hospital, Gums said.
Together, hospital and college leaders worked on what the model would look like, holding town hall meetings with college and hospital staff to discuss how it could work.
“[Our discussions] grew into a working model, which we called the 70-30 model. The concept was to create partnerships in various therapeutic areas that would benefit the hospital and college,” said Gums, who has helped shape the shared responsibility model with other UF and UF Health leaders. “We sat down with hospital pharmacy leadership and investigated areas where we both had needs. We identified a list of therapeutic specialties to target first.”
First on that list was infectious diseases, which includes not only managing patients with infectious conditions, but also ensuring the hospital is administering antimicrobial therapies responsibly. Already a clinical pharmacist at the hospital, Klinker expressed interest in being part of the new partnership. He liked the idea of being able to pursue teaching and research without having to give up his clinical practice.
“For me, I have been a pharmacist for 20 years, and at this point in my career, I had a fund of knowledge I wanted to share,” he said. “When the dean opened this process, it made sense to me. I would be able to develop new skills, interact more with students and researchers, and still practice.
“Balancing these activities helps my teaching because everything comes from real world experience. It allows me to stay current.”
The pair has spent much of the first 18 months focused on developing their team. For a model like this to succeed, the partnership has to be strong, Klinker said.
“When you have a split-funded position, those people have to speak the same language,” he said. “We have to be consistent in what we do in clinical practice, how we teach and develop research.”
All the time college and hospital leaders spent developing the program at the outset, defining the roles and carefully crafting the team, are a big part of what has made it successful, Klinker said.
“Everyone has to be on the same page,” he said.
In addition to allowing pharmacists to teach and practice at the same time, working as a team also gives each faculty member a built-in collaborator and support system. This helps each be more productive and is allowing them to expand the scope of their projects. For example, Klinker has taken the lead in their collaboration with College of Pharmacy researcher Charles Peloquin, Pharm.D., a professor of pharmacotherapy and translational research, whose lab conducts therapeutic drug monitoring. The lab’s unique tests allow clinicians to better understand how each dose of a medication affects an individual patient — including how well it is absorbed and metabolized by the body.
Klinker has worked closely with Peloquin’s team to develop processes and implement policies to monitor the use of antimicrobial medications in the hospital. Now that Venugopalan is on board, she brings a different eye to the work, suggesting patients and clinical units that might benefit from this testing.
“We are one of the only institutions nationally that is performing antibiotic drug monitoring using this technology,” Venugopalan said. “From a clinical standpoint, assessing and optimizing antibiotic dosing is critical in our high acuity patient population. The drug monitoring offered by Dr. Peloquin’s lab has given us the unique opportunity to individualize antibiotic therapy. We are getting ready to review our data and evaluate outcomes. We feel certain that the results of this program will reveal benefits to both patient treatment and the quality of care.”
Klinker also supports the projects Venugopalan leads. She has started working with infectious disease residents to develop an algorithm to help improve antibiotic use for managing skin and soft tissue infections.
“Whether we are developing a policy for the hospital or a new teaching module, we provide feedback to each other on how to make it better, how to look at it differently. When we look at projects, they are better developed because two of us are involved,” he said. “To me the more eyes the better.”