NDSU graduate thrives in expanding role as pharmacist at Sanford
Published June 2016
Maari Larsen Loy never knows what the next hour might hold. A doctor might need a medication recommendation for treating a hemorrhage or a patient may have questions about chemotherapy. These are just some of the issues Loy responds to as a hospital pharmacist at Sanford Medical Center Broadway in Fargo.
As medicine becomes more sophisticated, pharmacists like Loy are expanding their scope. They are spending more time consulting with doctors and nurses to develop treatment plans. They are also spending more time working directly with patients to manage their medications and to educate them on preventing interactions and maximizing effectiveness.
Loy earned her Doctor of Pharmacy degree from NDSU in 2010 and is another example of NDSU graduates who live and work in the area. Fargo-Moorhead businesses, such as Sanford Health, depend on NDSU to educate professionals for North Dakota’s expanding workforce.
Approximately 90 percent of the state’s pharmacists are NDSU graduates and many work at Sanford facilities. “NDSU’s commitment to cultivate the best and the brightest students allows local organizations such as Sanford to hire quality employees within our community,” said Paul Richard, Sanford Fargo’s executive vice president. “We’ve found recruiting local graduates to be one of our best hiring strategies, as students who attend college here are more likely to continue to live and work in the area.”
Loy also serves patients in rural North Dakota by supporting pharmacists who work in the small, rural hospitals that offer 24/7 care in Sanford’s Fargo region. These facilities provide access to health care in rural communities, eliminating the need for people to drive long distances for care.
Rural hospital pharmacists often need to be an expert in everything, Loy said. And they often work alone, without support staff. She consults with them on difficult cases by phone or Skype. She also fills in for them when they are on leave, driving up to 150 miles one way to the hospital.
“The world in health care is changing and as the supply of physicians (in rural areas) becomes a greater hurdle, pharmacists, whether they work in hospitals, clinics or in the community, are filling those gaps,” Loy said.
Pharmacists are often the most accessible health professional in many rural communities. These communities are more likely to have a pharmacy than a clinic or hospital. Pharmacists with advanced training administer vaccines, and diabetes and cholesterol screening. They are able to change a medication or dosage through special arrangements with doctors and nurse practitioners. And pharmacists are helping to prevent overdose deaths in the state’s growing heroin and opioid abuse crisis through prescribing and dispensing rescue kits.
Education is a strong family value for the former farm girl from Prosper, North Dakota. Loy became a fourth-generation NDSU graduate in 2010. To equip herself for the business side of being a pharmacy leader, she earned a Master of Business Administration in 2011. Her great-grandfather earned a degree in steam engineering after World War I, and her grandfather and father earned agricultural-related degrees.
NDSU prepared Loy to take her place in the workforce. She said her instructors were highly trained pharmacists who taught her and her classmates what they needed to know and helped students make an impact through state and national pharmacy organizations.
Loy used the leadership skills she developed at NDSU to lead the North Dakota Society of Health-System Pharmacists. On the group’s behalf, she advocated for changes in the state Legislature to allow pharmacists to work on health care teams as practitioners. The North Dakota pharmacy group named Loy in 2015 its Distinguished Young Pharmacist of the Year.
“Maari’s commitment to treating patients through the field of pharmacy has made her an integral part of the Sanford Pharmacy team,” said Jesse Breidenbach, Sanford Pharmacy’s acute care director. “We value her expertise and passion for this industry, and it shows in her day-to-day work.”