UNC MPA student and professor collaborate on publication in area of public health

Dr. Maureen Berner, and UNC MPA student and current physician, Dr. Amro Ilaiwy were published in the North Carolina Pharmacist, official journal of the North Carolina Association of Pharmacists. The Journal is a resource for pharmacists and health professionals in North Carolina, providing drug and practice information from across the state and around the world.

Their piece, “Who Gets What? Drivers of Emergency Room Use and Access to Medication Assistance Programs in North Carolina.”, is an analysis of Prescription Assistance Programs in North Carolina and their effect on healthcare use based on the volume of local emergency room visits.

“Having professors collaborate with students with a wide variety of backgrounds, just getting started on their careers or seeing how to apply their current specialty in a new way via applied research projects is a win-win-win for students, faculty, and communities in North Carolina” said Dr. Berner.

Dr. Ilaiwy was the driving force behind this publication, and Dr. Berner aided in the research process.

“As a physician who provided care to many patients via the Cumberland County Medication Access Program (CCMAP), I saw tremendous value in gaining better understanding of how these programs work and identifying opportunities for improvement. Dr. Berner inspired me to conduct a program evaluation as part of the PUBA720 class in hopes of bridging the knowledge gap both on a local and state level” Dr. Ilaiwy states.

Two major findings came out of this research. The first finding was that residents within rural counties utilize emergency services at a higher volume than residents in urban counties. Dr. Ilaiwy describes this discovery can be attributed to lack of access to urgent care or primary care facilities in rural areas. Moreover, residents of rural counties are less likely to have adequate or health insurance in general. The second finding presented in the publication was there appeared to be no association between increased access to medication assistance programs in rural counties and lower ER visit volumes per capita.

Dr. Ilaiwy warns, “One caveat to note here is higher numbers of MAP sites within a county may simply reflect declining insurance coverage and increased need for prescription assistance.”

This collaboration allowed Dr. Ilaiwy to develop a deeper understanding of program evaluation. He was also able to gain experience working with, collecting, and analyzing data.

“Students like Amro support my love of working with our students as much as (I hope) my working with him has allowed him to advance is passion for helping people live better and longer lives” states Dr. Berner.

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