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Improving Patient Care

The profession of pharmacy offers opportunities to grow, to learn and to lead. Jennifer Aguado, PharmD ’15, is contributing to the success of her health system, improving the patient experience of care and building a better future for her family. 

Dr. Aguado, a member of the College of Pharmacy’s inaugural Class of 2015, was offered a challenging and important assignment as a new clinical pharmacist for Advocate Health Care, the largest fully integrated healthcare network in Illinois.

She’s helping to lead a system-wide pharmacy automation project, including the implementation of new pharmacy medication technology at each of Advocate’s 12 hospitals. She’s also working to improve and standardize clinical workflow processes surrounding the use of the new pharmacy automation within each hospital pharmacy.

“It’s a big project to take on right out of school,” said Dr. Aguado, who works at Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville, IL. She earned the confidence of pharmacy leadership at the hospital when she worked on a joint project while employed by healthcare company CareFusion before she enrolled at RFU. 

“The chance to be a part of Advocate’s vision, pharmacy model and its role in improving outcomes, was a big factor in my first career move as a PharmD,” Dr. Aguado said. “At Condell, we’re committed to reviewing medications from admission to discharge.”

Dr. Aguado actively monitors clinical protocols, meets with patients and provides prescribing support to physicians. She and other clinical pharmacists are often on the floor, interacting with nurses, doctors and patients.

“We’re moving toward a model where we capture every discharge,” Dr. Aguado said. “When we do discharge counseling, we want to give patients enough information, the right information, to prevent readmissions.”

Driven by a desire to make a difference, a belief in teamwork and a vision for a more secure future for her family, Dr. Aguado raised three children and worked part-time as a hospital pharmacy technician while pursuing her doctor of pharmacy degree.

“It’s been a team effort,” she said. “My husband has been very supportive. Before I ever pursued pharmacy school we had a long discussion as a family about how this was to happen, that mom’s ultimate goal was to become a pharmacist, and how we all need to work to achieve our goals.”

Four years of rigorous coursework, clinical rotations and student activities came at a personal cost. Dr. Aguado missed many of her oldest son’s school and sports activities. Work/life balance was tough.

“I really had to learn how to balance my time,” she said. Pharmacy, graduate school and parenting have all provided lessons in leadership for Dr. Aguado. 

“Being a leader takes experience and it takes trial and error,” she said. “I’ve always known that my journey to becoming a successful pharmacist wouldn’t end at graduation. It wasn’t just about getting a job. I want to continue to learn and exceed expectations.”

Dr. Aguado brings RFU values, including interprofessionalism, to her work.

“Pharmacy is such a great way of working with patients and with other healthcare professionals,” she said. “That’s how we learned at RFU. I’m an advocate for the interprofessional team and better, closer relationships with patients, and better communication between pharmacists, doctors and nurses. My system’s leadership believes in me and sees my motivation. We’re doing a great job in patient care. Focusing on interprofessional relationships will only help improve patient care.”

Leadership for Dr. Aguado, who married and had her first child at 16, is also about facing and overcoming challenges. “I want to show my children that just because you encounter challenges doesn’t mean you can’t be successful,” she said. “Pharmacy plays a huge role in patient care. I couldn’t have chosen a better field to pursue.”

This story was first featured in the Fall 2016 issue of Helix Magazine.