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Bouvé College of Health Sciences at Northeastern University

School of Pharmacy

Judy Barr

Judy Barr
Associate Professor of Pharmacy Administration
Director, National Education & Research Center for Outcomes Assessment & Healthcare (NERCOA)

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in a midwestern town called Mawmee, near Toledo, Ohio. Mawmee was boring, and that is why I came to school in Boston. It has a great educational system.

What made you choose pharmacy?

During high school, I volunteered at Flower Hospital in Toledo, in the pharmacy and the clinical laboratory. That is how I got interested in healthcare.

What is your educational background?

Bachelors in Biomedical Sciences from Simmons College
Master in Education, Science, from University of Massachusetts Boston
Doctor of Science from the Harvard School of Public Health in Health Policy and Evaluation

When and why did you choose to come to Northeastern?

My career started in the clinical laboratory. I was directing an educational program in Clinical Laboratory Science at Malden Hospital, which held some of its classes at Northeastern University. After several years, Northeastern offered me an Assistant Professor position in the department of Clinical Laboratory Science. I directed the department from 1975-1978. In 1998-2001, I was asked to be Interim Dean of the College of Pharmacy and Allied Health Professions. I did that for two years. Also, I helped establish the Masters in Health Professions program that ran for 10-15 years.

What did you do before you decided to conduct academic research?

I was a clinical microbiologist at what is now Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

What is your field of study at the School of Pharmacy?  

My field is Health Policy and Evaluation, where I evaluate healthcare interventions. At the healthcare center, the researchers and I try to work from the patient’s perspective. Rather than an intervention where we typically look at biomedical markers, we look at the impact on the patient’s quality of life and develop patient-centered outcome measures. The research involves surveys on schizophrenia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and dietary changes. These surveys show the impact of healthcare interventions by measuring the changes on a patient’s quality of life.

What is NERCOA?

NERCOA stands for National Education & Research Center for Outcomes Assessment & Healthcare. The research center was established in 1990 by a federal demonstration grant in order to link research, education, and practice in patient-centered outcomes. We initially developed educational material, such as monographs and videotapes, which were distributed and used by health professionals across the country. The material provided different ways for health practitioners to measure the effectiveness of their treatments. Rather than functional or biologic assessments, it dealt with health-related quality of life measures.

What do you enjoy about being at Northeastern?

The students. The faculty. It’s a number of factors, such as interacting with educators across healthcare professions, being involved with innovative teaching and learning techniques, working with students to help them achieve an “A-ha!” moment, and working with fellow researchers to developing new ideas.

What research are you compiling right now?

The researchers and I are working with community health centers and high-risk, high-cost patients to improve their care. We have the research agenda of putting the idea of community back into community practice. The community pharmacist, especially in underserved areas, would have a parallel responsibility of providing healthcare to a community, as opposed to only the individual patients who come to the store. Pharmacists can work with schools or churches and go into the community, rather than have the community come to them. They can extend into the community to improve the population health.

We are using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology to work with health centers and their pharmacies to identify high-risk areas, where the pharmacies are located within those areas, and what we can do to have student extenders work with these pharmacies.

What is your next academic pursuit?

I think my current research agenda is enough to keep somebody busy for ten years. There is so much that can be studied so that pharmacists and pharmacies can improve the health of the population through outreach.

What was the nature of your last publication?

In 2010, I co-authored What Matters in Teaching and Learning with Lynne Sylvia. It is a book about how to improve student-learning in pharmacy education.

What is your biggest accomplishment?

From an educational perspective, my biggest accomplishments are creating the transition from the BS to the Pharm.D. program and implementing the ambulatory care requirement in the Pharm.D. program.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

Retired! Intellectually engaged, and retired.

What would you say to a student who is considering attending the School of Pharmacy?

Pharmacy is an exciting place to go and it will provide you with many opportunities for a career.

What is your fondest memory from your time here?

The relationships with others are the most meaningful to me, particularly the relationships with the students who have had an APPE experience with me. Seeing them grow, develop, and become their own health professional is very special. I am also very proud of the pharmacoeconomics posters that the students presented at the ASHP MidYear.

What is your favorite hang-out spot or place to grab food on campus?

The Bean Burrito at Taco Bell. It’s the only good fast food. It has a B+ rating.

What has changed the most at Northeastern since you have been here?

Everything! The campus has become beautiful, the students are constantly improving, the faculty are more accomplished, and Northeastern offers more interdisciplinary opportunities.

A Few Words of Advice:

Always be open to new opportunities.

Contact Info

School of Pharmacy
140 The Fenway
Mailstop R218TF
Tel: 617.373.3380
Fax: 617.373.7655

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