In the past, the hometown pharmacist was a staple in the community. You would know who was filling your medicine by name and could ask them questions you had forgotten to ask your provider. Now, with the availability of ordering medicine online or a curbside pickup service, there is a disconnect between patient and pharmacist. Tina Claypool, Pharm.D., CDCES, seeks to bridge the gap between patient and pharmacist through continuing education and support of the patient.
Tina has been with UofL Health for 25 years. Although she did not start her career in Louisville, the experience she brought with her from her past positions has helped grow UofL Health – Pharmacy Services.
The western Kentucky native graduated from Murray State University and went on to earn her degree in pharmacy from the University of Kentucky College of Pharmacy. She started her career at Lourdes Hospital in her hometown of Paducah, Ky. At the hospital, she worked on the ICU floor where she saw many patients at their worst, many of whom were patients with mismanaged diabetes. However, Tina missed working in an academic health care system, so she began the job hunt and found her way to Louisville and to UofL Health – UofL Hospital where she took a job as a clinical pharmacist.
To Tina’s luck, the pharmacy team was on the cusp of significant growth. In 1999/2000, UofL Hospital started a pharmacy resident program — one of the few in the commonwealth at the time.
“I’ve trained lots of residents over the years,” Tina said. “Even after all this time, I’m still involved in the residency program. Currently, I serve as the residency program director for our PGY2 Ambulatory Care Pharmacy Residency Program at UofL Hospital and help train more than 10 residents every year.”
Tina doesn’t take all of the credit for the program’s success. In fact, she admires the growth and leadership of the program under the direction of Melissa Robertson, Pharm.D., BCPS, the current manager of medication safety and the UofL Health Pharmacy Residency Program. Under Melissa’s leadership, the program has gone from three residents per year to 16 pharmacy residents per year within eight different residency programs at UofL Health.
Tina holds many roles at UofL Health, but her primary role is being the lead clinical pharmacist for the UofL Health Diabetes Management Program. She’s been in this role since 2009. When she started, her main goal was to develop the program as an employer health benefit to help our employees and dependents with diabetes achieve increased health, reduced complications and continual education and support as they live their healthiest life with diabetes.
“I absolutely love the opportunity to serve as the pharmacist team member for our employees who live with diabetes,” Tina said. “Even with insurance and access to health care resources, diabetes can be a very overwhelming condition that requires ongoing self-management.”
Tina likes to say that diabetes management is more than just taking a pill and watching what you eat. With advancements in treatments and technology, we now know how to prevent complications with diabetes — if it’s managed properly.
“It’s very rewarding to be able to assist our employees and their family members by helping them better understand their health, improve access to their medications/monitoring therapy, provide important vaccinations and self-care instructions to keep them feeling good and out of the hospital,” Tina said.
Tina would like you to know that the Diabetes Management Program is open to all employees who have a UofL Health insurance plan, and to the dependents (ages 18 and older) who are also on your insurance plan. The program only requires four quarterly appointments a year at the UofL Health – Jackson Street Outpatient Pharmacy. Plus, you get your diabetes medications and blood sugar testing supplies without a copay.
“Employees who are struggling with type one or type two diabetes or who have family members on their insurance plan who are struggling with diabetes should really join this program not just for the added benefits, but because we can identify things not on your radar,” Tina said. “You still see your primary provider, but we can sync up your medications, provide continuing education, a specialized action plan to fit your budget and needs, give you your annual vaccinations and we’re here every step of the way as your personal pharmacist and diabetes educator.”
Aside from the Diabetes Management Program, what Tina loves most about UofL Health is how its team members are committed to providing the best care to patients and our community and beyond. What keeps her coming back to work is how the organization holds Pharmacy Services to a high standard and welcomes the department as an important asset to the patient care team and mission of the organization. Tina explains that, at UofL Health, our pharmacists can practice to the top of their license and help train new pharmacists. The department pushes her to test her skills and knowledge of the field and encourages her to grow and seek out more knowledge to be a better pharmacist.
Tina strives to live out our mission through the care she gives her patients. With each patient, she always treats them as if they were her own family members and desires to have their best interest in mind through their care plan.
“At some point, you or a loved one will be in a hospital where you will need medicine,” Tina said. “I always think about how I would want someone to treat my husband or my children, and I want to give that same care as I would to them as I do my patients – even the ones that are most difficult to reach. It’s my job to meet them where they are and be realistic about their lifestyle and diet options.”
When Tina isn’t with our employees, you can find her working on activities for the next Kentucky Society of Health-System Pharmacists (KSHP) event. KSHP works on the behalf of Kentucky pharmacists and offers education, best practices in patient care and a network opportunity to join with other pharmacists across the commonwealth. Tina is the past president of the organization, serving from November 2020 through September 2021. This role challenged her to commit additional hours of service to her profession, but also helped her build a support network of pharmacists across the state she can call on and grow with as the profession evolves.
“I love being a pharmacist, and I want to ensure that our role in helping patients and our health care team members continue to rise to meet the needs of our communities,” Tina said. “I’m grateful to represent UofL Health on a state and national level. We are doing great work here, and I’m proud to share!”
Outside of work, you can catch Tina treating herself to Graeter’s mint chocolate chip ice cream and enjoying her latest Hulu find – Nine Perfect Strangers. She might invite you out for a hot yoga session. Don’t worry, if you hate it the first couple of times, she’ll understand, but she’ll urge you to stick with it for the reward of feeling physically stronger and less stressed.
You may hear some people call her by her alter ego, Leslie Knope. To understand how much they are fans of the show, her daughter once took all of the family photos out of their frames and replaced them with photoshopped versions of themselves with the cast characters of which they most identify.
“My kids joke and call me Leslie and they call my husband Ron Swanson. They’re definitely versions of Tom and April,” Tina said.
If you’re looking to add a pharmacist to your care team or would like to know more information about our Diabetes Management Program, talk with Tina. She would be glad to get to know you and start you on a journey to a better quality of life!