Member Spotlight: Dr. Bethany Wattles

Dr. Bethany Wattles is a clinical pharmacist in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Louisville School of Medicine. She works in the Child and Adolescent Health Research Design and Support Unit, where her work focuses on research and quality improvement initiatives related to outpatient antimicrobial stewardship in Kentucky. She previously served as the Antimicrobial Stewardship Clinical Specialist at Norton Children’s Hospital. Dr. Wattles completed PGY1 and PGY2 pharmacy residencies at Norton Children’s Hospital and graduated from UK College of Pharmacy in 2014. She earned an Executive Master of Health Administration degree from Western Kentucky University in 2020.

She has been a member of PIDS since 2018, and currently serves on the Education Committee and Pediatric Committee on Antimicrobial Stewardship.

Dr. Wattles is one of the leaders of the Kentucky Antibiotic Awareness Campaign – a program that aims to provide education and resources to health care providers and the public across the Commonwealth. We recently asked her to share information about the campaign.

Dr. Kris Bryant: Why does Kentucky need an antibiotic awareness campaign?

Dr. Bethany Wattles: Kentucky is consistently the first or second highest in the country for outpatient antibiotic prescribing. Researchers from the University of Louisville have been partnering with Kentucky Medicaid since approximately 2015 to address this problem. It is widespread, although we see the highest rates of prescribing in the rural, eastern part of state. From the beginning, we wanted to design a campaign that targets all areas of the state, instead of limiting efforts to the more urban and academic areas.

Dr. Kris Bryant: Tell us a little bit about the campaign.

Dr. Bethany Wattles: We have developed resources for providers and for the public. In 2021, you can’t do this without social media so we have accounts on both Facebook and Twitter. We have a lot of Kentucky providers who follow us, and the goal is for them to learn more about antibiotic stewardship and share information relevant to the public through their individual social media accounts. 

Our most comprehensive resource is an Outpatient Stewardship Implementation Workbook. This provides step-by-step instructions for providers who want to start a stewardship program in their practice. It is based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Core Elements of Outpatient Antibiotic Stewardship but utilizes Kentucky resources and examples.

Dr. Kris Bryant: Are there lessons learned from the campaign that you can share with other states?

Dr. Bethany Wattles: Our message has been that it is important to include the entire state. It is easier to reach out to providers who work in large healthcare systems, but these are providers who likely already have access to resources about antibiotic prescribing. It is harder to get the word out to prescribers who work in private practices in rural areas. We have been able to support practices that might not have all of the resources they need to create an office-based stewardship program. This is especially important because data suggest higher prescribing in rural areas.

Dr. Kris Bryant: You are a member of a couple of professional organizations, including the Society of Infectious Diseases Pharmacists. What do you value about your PIDS membership?

Dr. Bethany Wattles: I have had a great experience collaborating with physicians who are members of PIDS. I enjoy being part of the conversation that advances pediatric antimicrobial stewardship, and engaging with others who are doing research in this area.

The Kentucky Antibiotic Awareness Campaign also includes resources for kids. Check out the Kentucky Kids Antibiotic Awareness Activity Book.

Other leaders of the Kentucky Antibiotic Awareness Campaign include infectious diseases specialists Michael J. Smith, MD, MSCE and Jyoti Vidwan, MD, MPH.

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