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SDSU pharmacy student tabbed for national program

Professor Sharrel Pinto and Chris Kotsechvar, who will graduate in May with his doctorate in pharmacy, are working together on a grant project to improve patient adherence to their prescribed medications. Koteschevar was one of nine students chosen nationwide for a prestigious scholars program.
Professor Sharrel Pinto and Chris Kotsechvar, who will graduate in May with his doctorate in pharmacy, are working together on a grant project to improve patient adherence to their prescribed medications. Koteschevar was one of nine students chosen nationwide for a prestigious scholars program.

Chris Kotschevar, who is in his final year of study for his doctorate in pharmacy at South Dakota State University, has been selected as one of nine pharmacy students from around the nation to participate in a prestigious scholars program.

Kotschevar, from Rochester, Minnesota, is the first SDSU student to be selected for the Pharmacy Quality Alliance-CVS Health Foundation Scholars Program.

He can attend a leadership summit in Arlington, Virginia, Nov. 20-21, work with SDSU professor Sharrel Pinto on a federally funded grant and then present his findings at the national meeting of the Pharmacy Quality Alliance in Baltimore May 13-15, just a few days after he completes his six years of pharmaceutical training at South Dakota State.

His work will primarily focus on increasing awareness of the pharmacist’s role in improving patient adherence to their prescribed medications.

“The role of the pharmacist goes beyond dispensing medications to helping patients understand why they are taking the medication and how to get its greatest effectiveness,” Kotschevar said. In addition to in-pharmacy counseling with patients, pharmacists now are looking at ways to lower barriers that keep people from following through with their medications, he said.

“We want to decrease how often patients forget to take their medication. That could be programs like auto refill, calls reminding patients that they have a refill ready for pickup or having mail order within the pharmacy,” Kotschevar said.

Working with major grant

Pinto is coordinating an effort to build community-based programs statewide that help improve medication adherence and patient outcomes. The five-year grant comes from the Centers for Disease Control and is administered by the South Dakota Department of Health. A major focus is the underserved portions of South Dakota.

A survey of patients with diabetes or cardiovascular disease will seek to determine their awareness of programs offered through pharmacists, Kotschevar said. 

“Medication management, sitting down with patients, offering vaccinations—it doesn't do any good to have the services if patients don't use them,” Kotschevar said. “The cost of those services is oftentimes covered by insurance company. The survey will measure awareness and how patients can be bettered educated.”

The awareness campaign will be conducted in December through February 2020 with a follow-up survey to determine the campaign’s effectiveness, he said.

An interest in research

Chris Kotschevar
Chris Kotschevar

As a senior in the Van D. and Barbara B. Fishback Honors College, Kotschevar conducted a survey to find out what previous Fishback Honors College students gained from the program.

“I wanted to expand into pharmacy research and pursue research at a level beyond the SDSU campus and serve the state of South Dakota at a tangible level as well as present at a national level,” said Kotschevar, explaining why he sought to be a Pharmacy Quality Alliance-CVS Health Foundation Scholar. It is not connected with any of his classes.

After graduation, Kotschevar is looking at two years of residency, including one focusing on pharmacy administration and policy development.