An Asheville Project of Her Own

Pharmacy resident pursues her passion in ambulatory care

Since Pharmacy School, Kanesha Day, PharmD, CPP, has known exactly where she wanted to go for her PGY2. Inspired by her research on The Asheville Project—a program that launched in 1997 and sought to help city employees with chronic diseases—Kanesha started dreaming of coming to Asheville.

“I became enamored with The Asheville Project and what they did in the ambulatory care space,” said Kanesha. “I thought Asheville is where I need to go to become the best ambulatory care pharmacist I can be.”

With family roots in the Arkansas Delta, Kanesha saw the inequalities in rural healthcare firsthand and knew from a young age that she wanted to help people who wouldn’t normally have access to quality healthcare. Kanesha first thought about becoming a nurse, but she soon decided that wasn’t the right fit for her. Ultimately, she landed on pharmacy, a career that would combine her passion for people and love of chemistry.

“I had an older cousin that went to pharmacy school,” Kanesha explained, “and it was so powerful to see someone that looked like me doing pharmacy. I thought if she can do it, then I can do it, too.”

For Kanesha, MAHEC’s PGY2 for Ambulatory Care program provided not only proximity to The Asheville Project and those involved with it, but also a chance to use her skills in a variety of arenas. The opportunities to work in an ob/gyn clinic, to learn from pharmacy “superstars” at MAHEC and UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy, to work in a Hepatitis C Clinic, and to learn more about transgender care were all highlights for Kanesha.

“MAHEC is a phenomenal program. You can get as many experiences as you hope to get,” said Kanesha. “You get experience with the usual chronic diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure, but you can also get these unique experiences that other pharmacists may not be exposed to.”

Another one of those unique experiences for Kanesha was learning how to develop her own business plan, a part of the PGY2 program’s larger goal to get more pharmacists in rural primary care offices.

“The PGY2 for Ambulatory Care focuses primarily on starting innovative clinical pharmacy services,” explained Courtenay Wilson, PharmD, BCACP, CPP, Associate Director of Clinical Pharmacotherapy. “We partner with providers in the region to try to create financially sustainable models for integrating clinical pharmacy services into primary care. We do that with the resident creating those services in these primary care practices with the goal of making a full-time position at the end of their residency here.”

Along with excellent learning opportunities at MAHEC, Kanesha found a lot to like about living in Asheville, including exploring the city’s many food options, finding a strong faith community, and discovering she might be more of an outdoors person than she thought.

“It’s a wonderful place,” exclaimed Kanesha. “The mountains are always beautiful. That’s what everyone told me, but I didn’t really believe them until I started hiking for myself. I wouldn’t say I’m an outdoors person, but when I went hiking it was so beautiful. I don’t see how you could not love that.”

Courtenay has been very impressed with Kanesha and the work she’s done since coming to MAHEC and expects great things from her in the future.

“Kanesha is one of the most impressive people that I have met in a long time,” said Courtenay. “Her determination and her perseverance are going to take her very far in life.”