Meridith Lawrence

Name: Meridith S. Lawrence, MS-PREP, RPh, CPE (Certified Pain Educator)
Year of Graduation: 2004

Describe the impact in your life, professionally or personally, after receiving the Masters in Pain Research, Education and Policy (PREP)?
Getting the MS-PREP changed my life for the better. I was already a pharmacist with an interest in pain management; that is, a passion for relieving pain. Now that I have the degree I am the "go to" person at my institution for pain information and expertise. I am a founding member of the palliative care team, the pediatric pain task force, and the pain committee which is a group looking at ways to improve patients pain relief in the ambulatory setting. I am also the pharmacist who represents information on analgesics to the pharmacy and therapeutics (P+T) committee at my healthcare agency.

Some other outcomes for me as a result of this degree: I published a pocket guide to pain and palliative care with our palliative care MD geared to house staff (nurses and attending physicians use it also). I am currently writing a pain protocol for our ambulatory clinics which will guide a pharmacist-run pain consultation service. I give in-services to nursing groups and am called on to consult on inpatient pain cases.

Did the program change my outlook? It made my resolve to manage and relieve pain even stronger. The PREP program gave me the tools to speak knowledgably and to be able to help more patients.

Did your choosing Tufts require a move to Boston?
No. I live close by, in Cambridge, MA.

Did you come to one of the PREP programs right out of an undergraduate setting or a work setting or some other path?
I had been out of pharmacy school for 10 years and needed to stretch my brain (I was bored). I thought about getting a doctorate in pharmacy but that was too general. Then I saw an article in the Boston Globe about Dr. Dan Carr and the PREP program at Tufts. I was thrilled! I audited the class on change and education taught at that time by Judy Spross. I was hooked! I applied and got in and started full time in the Fall of 2000. (If it is of interest, I was 45 yrs. old at the time)

What factors did you consider in deciding whether to do PREP as a full time approach or a part-time approach?
Because I was a pharmacist, I was fortunate to make a good living and thus was able to work part time, go to school at night full time and also take out loans. I felt that going to school full time was right for me because I wanted to finish in 2-3 years. Also, the subject matter totally excited me and I could not wait to learn more!

How feasible did your approach to the program turn out to be?
My approach totally worked for me. I accomplished what I set out to do-finish in 3 years.

Is there any additional information that you would like to share with prospective students?
I cannot say enough good things about the PREP program. If you have a passion or even an interest in pain management, this is the program for you. First, the students come from many professional backgrounds so you get a diverse view of issues. We had speakers who are on the cutting edge of pain research in the Boston area and beyond. (In one class we had a speaker [Professor Brigitte L. Keiffer] who discovered the delta receptor!) The program is multidisciplinary so you get the clinical picture and you also get the sociology and the ethics and the psychology of pain; it is very well rounded. It is amazing to sit through the classes and realize that you are learning material that you will use someday very soon!