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Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center - Houston, Texas

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Unique Educational Opportunities Available at VA Outpatient Clinic in Conroe

July 5, 2007

CONROE, TX – Three months after the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center (MEDVAMC) opened the Community Based Outpatient Clinic (CBOC) in Conroe, Elisabeth A. Mazzolini, a doctorate candidate from the University of Houston College of Pharmacy, became the first VA heath care intern at the clinic.

Officially opening on February 26, 2007, the Conroe CBOC, located at 800 Riverwood Court near the Conroe Regional Medical Center, provides primary care and mental health services for veterans in the area and greatly expands the VA’s capacity for outpatient care north of Houston.

During her six-week rotation with Conroe CBOC Clinical Pharmacist Yavonne Q. Martinez, Pharm.D., M.P.H., B.C.P.S., Mazzolini educated veterans about diseases, prescription and non-prescription medications, and smoking cessation products. She also presented a lecture to the primary care providers at the clinic on the use of duloxetine in the treatment of diabetic peripheral neuropathic pain and assisted with various pharmacy administrative duties.

"I'm really learning a lot and enjoying seeing different aspects of primary care pharmacy," said Mazzolini after the first three weeks of her rotation. "My goal is to provide useful and instructive assistance to veterans obtaining their health care at the Conroe Clinic". 

The MEDVAMC Pharmacy precepts pharmacy interns from the University of Houston and the University of Texas Colleges of Pharmacy, and occasionally, from Texas Southern University.  Pharmacy interns are required to complete seven 6-week rotations during their final year prior to graduating and taking the state board exams to become licensed pharmacists.

In order to provide Mazzolini with a broad scope of the veterans' health care system, she spent two separate days at the MEDVAMC with Janeca Malveaux, Pharm.D. and Jennifer Nguyen, Pharm.D., clinical pharmacists in the Primary Care Clinics in Houston. She also attended a diabetes education class with Clinical Dietitian Nancy Baker, R.D., C.D.E. to learn about carbohydrate counting for veterans with diabetes.

"The Conroe CBOC offered me the unique opportunity to see the difference between the primary care setting in a community clinic compared to a hospital setting," said Mazzolini at the completion of her rotation. "The veterans, of course, are the best part of the experience. This chance to serve our nation's veterans was an honor."

Nearly 3,500 health care professionals provide high-quality care to veterans in southeast Texas. For more than 50 years, the MEDVAMC has provided clinical training for health care professionals through its major affiliate, Baylor College of Medicine. MEDVAMC now operates the largest VA residency program with more than 215 slots accounting for more than 580 residents per academic year. Each academic year, more than 1,000 students are trained through 112 affiliation agreements with institutions of higher learning in 13 states. Health care students from fields such as nursing, dietetics, social work, physical therapy, and a wide variety of medical specialties receive training here each year. This responsibility serves to enhance the quality of care provided to our veterans. As a member institution of the Texas Medical Center (TMC) since 1985, the MEDVAMC staff serves on various TMC oversight committees that contribute to improved patient care and hospital operations. The vast majority of MEDVAMC physicians are also faculty members of Baylor College of Medicine.

"The opportunities for health care students to learn at the Conroe Community Based Outpatient Clinic are considerable. We plan to extend our intern program into other fields such as nursing and social work in the near future," said Rahmat Leghari, M.D., Conroe CBOC director. "As a member of the DeBakey VA Medical Center, we will definitely continue the tradition of being a teaching facility." 

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