The Recipe for a Pharmacy Leader? Forget the Status Quo

By continually educating herself, her colleagues, and her patients, Avita Specialty Clinical Pharmacist Breannie Charles is knocking down health care barriers.

What’s Breannie Charles’ personal motto and advice to pharmacists new to the profession and looking to focus on specialty pharmacy? Go outside your comfort zone.

For example, during her final year of residency training at Kaiser Permanente Georgia, Breannie sharpened her skills in the integrated health care and collaborative care models, earned a teaching certificate so she could precept residents, and honed her expertise in the disease states of HIV and Hepatitis.

Soon after joining Avita in 2015, she helped launch our specialty pharmacy practice. Fast forward to her current role overseeing Avita’s specialty department from her Baton Rouge, Louisiana, pharmacy location, and you’ll start to notice a pattern: Breannie is never satisfied with the status quo.

In short time, Breannie has topped off her PharmD with credentials as a Board Certified Pharmacotherapy Specialist (BCPS), American Academy of HIV Pharmacist (AAHIVP), and Certified Specialty Pharmacist (CSP). She is currently licensed in nine states and has presented on the specialty disease topic areas of HIV, Hepatitis C, and outpatient non-opioid drug treatments (to name a few).

And just last month, she was honored by Pharmacy Times as a finalist in the Specialty Pharmacist category at the 2022 Next-Generation Pharmacist awards.

See what we mean?

Breannie Charles Avita quote

Better patient care through cultural competence

But while Breannie is committed to continuing education for both her and her students, her true professional passion lies in providing individualized, high-touch care for patients struggling with a host of treatment barriers—from a web of insurance requirements, to drug education, to best practices in adherence. “I’m heavily involved in the prior-authorization process in making a compelling clinical argument to insurance that a patient needs a drug,” Breannie says. “Once we get that approval, educating the patient is paramount. We make sure we’re coordinating efforts with their provider, the drug company, and of course offer step-by-step guides for them as a resource. We’re also looking ahead and checking for drug interactions, making sure patients are aware of any potential side effects, and confirming that they’re prepared to handle these treatments’ special storage requirements.”

As a specialty pharmacist caring for an underserved population, Breannie is acutely aware of the lack of health equity in the United States—it’s a battle she fights every day. “Being a member of the Black community, I see the issues my race faces when it comes to health care,” she says. “Beyond being affected by their disease states, our patients are facing socioeconomic barriers. It’s a requirement that we realize how this hinders our patients not only in getting their medications, but in adhering to their treatments. Understanding cultural competency barriers to adequate patient care is critical to a patient’s success.”

This area of professional excellence is just one of the essential learning categories Breannie passes along to the fourth-year pharmacy students she precepts. “Of course, we have clinical education, but it’s important that they learn how to treat the patient as a whole,” she says. “Part of that is being cognizant of cultural competence, health equity, social determinants of health, and the barriers to quality health care. I want to make sure my students understand what they might be dealing with, and what they can do as alternatives to help patients stay well.”

Breannie Charles Avita quoteFighting for health equity one communication at a time

The true definition of a triple threat, Breannie is fighting for health equity among her patients, educating the next generation of pharmacy leaders, and making sure that her pharmacy maintains the strict operational practices that result in it being accredited by both the Accreditation Commission for Health Care (ACHC) and URAC. She has dedicated her career to advancing the profession by educating both her peers and students who are just beginning their journeys.

Breannie also encourages her coworkers to open a transparent dialogue with covered entity providers, which she says is essential when helping a patient stay adherent to revolutionary new drug treatments. “One of the things we strive to do when we partner with a clinic is to host an onboarding presentation with them, so that providers can understand the services we provide and their central point of contact at the pharmacy,” she says. “That way we can efficiently communicate about any issues without a delay for the patient.”

“Breannie always does a great job of identifying, articulating, and resolving complex issues with payors and providers,” says Keisha Taylor, a district pharmacy manager at Avita. “The providers frequently reach out to her for input on their internal processes and trust her as a valued resource.”

Breannie Charles Avita quote

Making an impact through community involvement

In addition to her multiple and specialized certifications, licensure in nine states, role as an AAPE Preceptor at Xavier University, and speaking engagements, Breannie is also committed to both her professional and local communities.

She is currently Chair of the Health and Wellness Committee for Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Eta Chi Omega Chapter, where she helps facilitate projects that educate the community about certain disease states impacting women. Breannie is the immediate past president of Kiwanis Southwest Lafayette, an organization that focuses on uplifting the children in their community through service-learning projects.

And we’re just getting started. Breannie is also a member of the Louisiana Pharmacists Association, the American College of Clinical Pharmacy, the National Association of Specialty Pharmacy, and the American Academy of HIV Medicine.

“The beauty of pharmacy is that there’s so many different avenues that we can take,” Breannie explains. “Health care education and advocacy is incredibly important to me. And getting involved at a community level is just one of the ways I can do that.”

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