Alumni Profile: Judith Jacobi

Judith Jacobi: A Pioneer and Leader in Critical Care Pharmacy

Judith Jacobi

Judith Jacobi was raised in Wauwatosa, Wisc., where her grandfather owned a corner drug store, complete with a soda fountain and penny candy case. Influenced by her grandfather’s career and seeking an adventure out of state, Jacobi headed off to Purdue University where she earned her bachelor’s degree in pharmacy. It was there that she was inspired by new clinical faculty – including our former faculty member Professor Rod Carter. She then came to the University of Minnesota College of Pharmacy to learn more about clinical pharmacy and earn her doctorate of pharmacy degree in 1981.

“At the time, the college provided interdisciplinary education before it was the standard,” Jacobi recalls. “Pharmacy students had pathophysiology class and labs with medical students. We then were on clinical rotations together later.”

Jacobi also enjoyed the Evening Seminar presentations, which she describes as “nerve racking and stressful,” but were followed by a fun evening of beer and popcorn with the faculty at a nearby establishment.

She also fondly recalls the Communications course where she and her classmates learned how to be effective presenters, and improve their communication skills and interpersonal relationships. “This class was a wonderful change from the heavy focus on science, therapeutics and kinetics.”

After graduation, Jacobi began a residency where she was drawn to the challenging world of critical care, which at the time was a fairly new discipline in pharmacy. This area requires highly trained, specialized pharmacists who work in a critical care setting like an ICU as part of a health care team that includes physicians and nurses. Though today it may not sound so unusual to have a pharmacist on a multiprofessional health care team, in the early ‘80s when Jacobi started her practice it was quite uncommon.

Jacobi’s leadership in critical care that began decades ago helped pave the way for today’s pharmacists to assume greater roles and responsibilities within the multidisciplinary critical care team.

After completing her residency, Jacobi went on to practice as a clinical pharmacist in Indiana. First at St. Elizabeth Hospital, where she reported to a female director of pharmacy who she describes as an important role model who provided numerous examples of strong female leadership in a friendly but firm style.

After a brief tenure at St. Vincent Hospital, Jacobi accepted a more patient-focused role at Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis. Though she was hired to be the critical care pharmacist for one ICU team, she soon recognized that the needs of a burgeoning ICU population would require more pharmacists in that role. So she started a critical care pharmacy residency program to train critical care specialists.

In her current role, Jacobi is part of the multiprofessional ICU team as a Critical Care Pharmacy Specialist for the Adult Critical Care Units. For the past 20-plus years, she has contributed to the growth of the critical care pharmacy services to help meet the pharmaceutical needs of an extremely vulnerable population requiring sophisticated care.

Throughout her career, Jacobi has also taught numerous students and residents both in the critical care setting and in the classroom. She currently serves as a preceptor and affiliate assistant professor for schools of pharmacy at both Butler University and Purdue University.

Her advice to today’s pharmacy students? “Learn as much from your colleagues as you can - about life in general and their experiences while you learn advanced pharmacy practice,” she says. “And, keep on learning something new every day.”

“Learn as much from your colleagues as you can"

In 2010, Jacobi became the first pharmacist ever to lead the Society of Critical Care Medicine, which is a 15,000 member organization consisting mostly of physicians and nurses. Her ascension to the role of president in the organization is a clear recognition of the high esteem Jacobi has gathered over her career in the interprofessional practice of critical care.

Jacobi has received numerous awards recognizing her outstanding achievements and leadership in critical care pharmacy, including the coveted award from the American College of Clinical Pharmacy for her clinical practice excellence. She was also inducted into the National Academies of Practice-Pharmacy Academy in 2009, and she is one of the first pharmacists to gain specialty recognition for excellence in clinical practice as indicated by Board Certification in Pharmacotherapy Specialty.

Jacobi shares her expertise with our college as a member of our national Board of Advisors.