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Profile of a Pharmacy Innovator: Richard Wenzel

Upon graduating, Richard Wenzel knew that he wanted something other than the role of dispensing in his career. Although he worked primarily in hospitals, he had a tremendous desire to counsel patients and created his own counseling opportunities wherever possible. Dr. Wenzel began counseling post-bypass patients about their medications while they were still in the ICU, which was noticed by one of the hospital’s cardiac surgeons. One of the surgeons was so impressed with Dr. Wenzel’s efforts that he called for the creation of a position for a counseling pharmacist on the cardiac team (a position which Dr. Wenzel assumed).

Dr. Wenzel’s achievements and success with patient counseling were also noticed by other physicians and the hospital’s Director of Pharmacy. This resulted in the development of an innovative position at Diamond Headache Clinic in Chicago, IL where his primary task is patient education. Although Dr. Wenzel was not originally an expert on headache treatment, he knew how to effectively counsel patients. Now his job would be to educate patients about migraines and help them find the best, individualized therapy possible.

Dr. Wenzel established an innovative headache clerkship for PharmD candidates, as well as for pharmacy residents. The knowledge and encouragement he provides to his rotations students earned him the Drake University College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences “Preceptor of the Year” award in 2005. As a preceptor, he is able to pass on his philosophy that pharmacists must learn how to properly counsel patients and tries to help them establish a technique that can be applied to disorders other than migraines. He also encourages students to try to use their entrepreneurial skills to decide what could be done in the community setting to increase awareness of the disorder from which so many people suffer.

As a professional, Dr. Wenzel realizes that he has the obligation to teach others about his area of expertise. He lectures as often as possible to professional pharmacy groups at the local, state, and national levels. He also has published several headache articles and CE monographs in various pharmacy journals to spread awareness of the under-acknowledged migraine. His goals for the future include several research projects that should help improve awareness and quality of headache education for students and practicing pharmacists.