Researcher, teacher, and practicing pharmacist Camlyn Masuda’s driving passion is patient care and health for the people of Hawai’i.
A practicing ambulatory care specialist who specializes in diabetes management has been granted tenure at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo.
“Tenure means a lot to me in terms of research and community connectivity,” says Camlyn Masuda, an associate specialist of pharmacy practice who teaches at UH Hilo’s Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy. “My driving passion is patient care and health for the people of Hawai’i. I hope to expand telehealth services for those who are unable to travel. Utilizing resources from neighbor islands to bring health to the entire state and add to the connectedness of the UH system is extremely important to me.”
Masuda received her doctor of pharmacy degree from Oregon State University and then went on to complete a post-graduate year residency at Kaiser Permanente in Honolulu. She continued practicing as an ambulatory care pharmacist at Kaiser after her residency and became the residency program coordinator in 2012.
She joined the faculty at the UH Hilo pharmacy college in 2014, where she currently teaches integrated therapeutics, drug information, and experiential courses. She also is an ambulatory care pharmacist at the University Health Partners of Hawaiʻi Family Medicine Clinic, a John A. Burns School of Medicine family medicine clinic on Oʻahu, with a specialty in managing adults with diabetes.
Her research focuses on ways improve interdisciplinary team care, addressing social disparities and reduction of costs of insulin products used to treat diabetes. She is currently investigating ways to improve diabetes management for those who are homeless.
Masuda’s work has been noticed.
She received the Physicians Mutual Hawaiʻi Pharmacists Association Distinguished Young Pharmacist award in 2008. In 2016 she won the Hawaiʻi Pharmacists Association Pharmacist of the Year award. She also received a American Diabetes Association Inside Grant and continues to maintain affiliation with the Pacific Islands Geriatrics Workforce Enhancement Program.
Masuda is a fellow in Clinical Scholars, a national leadership program supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation that invests in innovative health care providers who are advancing health equity in their communities. (She notes her opinions expressed in this story are her own and do not represent the opinions of the program or the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.)
Teaching at UH Hilo
This multi-faceted career that includes research and a pharmacy practice greatly benefits UH Hilo pharmacy students because Masuda can share real life examples of certain disease states, instructional examples of device use, and information about situations she personally encounters to drive home the fact that medical matters aren’t just textbook figures.
For example, through in-person experiences with Masuda’s patients, students learn about effective communication skills such as listening to a patient’s perspective to improve new medication routines difficult to work into an existing lifestyle. Masuda says opening the door to communication beyond the part of the patient’s life that takes place in a clinical setting allows the patient to express what is needed to improve themselves with the assistance of a healthcare team.
“The best practice a pharmacist can follow would be to improve a person’s life by creating a positive and communicative relationship and discussing the pros and cons of medication therapy,” says Masuda. “With research demonstrating that social disparities contribute to a person’s health, we need to take this into account when recommending medications and work with each individual to address some of the disparities that may prevent them from using the medication.”
In all her work as a researcher, pharmacist, and member of the faculty at UH Hilo, a critical goal of Masuda’s mission is to improve the health of the people of Hawaiʻi. She says one of the reasons she came to UH Hilo is to help future pharmacists learn about current research while also helping patients live healthy lives. “I am excited that I have the opportunity to work with students to help them in their journey in becoming practicing, caring pharmacists,” she says.
Bringing students to their next level also means connecting them with opportunities that may not otherwise be available to them.
“Our students need a fourth year of experientials and there are not enough available sites to accommodate that need on the Big Island,” she says. “I am one of a few UH Hilo faculty who practices on O‘ahu in a collaboration between UH Hilo’s Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy and UH Mānoa’s John A. Burns School of Medicine in order to ensure students get the experience they require while improving patients’ access to care by having a pharmacist that works with their healthcare team to ensure use of effective and safe medications.”
This work includes helping fourth-year pharmacy students at UH Hilo experience the important role a pharmacist plays in a doctor’s office. Masuda says students working directly with physicians and patients in a physician’s office can be a more effective way to learn about helping patients with medication changes—which may require difficult lifestyle changes—to improve their quality of life.
“Ideally, we’d like to showcase how pharmacists can add to a doctor’s office setting by reducing costs, providing patients medication information more quickly, and assessing efficacy and side effects from all angles as one cohesive team,” Masuda explains. “We aspire to set a new standard that highlights the value of tying all medical services together.”
By Jordan Hemmerly, who is earning her bachelor’s degree in marine science at UH Hilo. She is a research assistant at the Multiscale Environmental Graphical Analysis (MEGA) Lab where she works in coral reef research.