Tharp’s passion for patient care shines through during pandemic


Editor’s Note: This October, we will celebrate our 30th class of 40 Under Forty honorees. Each week in 2022, The Business Journal of Tri-Cities Tennessee/Virginia will highlight one of our 2021 40 Under Forty honorees leading up to the announcement of our milestone class this fall.

Growing up, Jen Tharp had parents that provided a firm foundation for her and her sister. What she has built on that foundation is nothing short of impressive.

“I think a lot of it comes down to how I was raised,” Tharp said. “You can achieve anything you want as long as you’re willing to go out there and work for it. They led by example, too. We were always really involved in our community.”

As a clinical pharmacist in the intensive care unit at the Johnson City Medical Center, Tharp has served on the front lines during the COVID-19 pandemic. She has maintained a grueling pace in that role as part of the team that has cared for the sickest patients in our region.

There has been plenty of learning done on the fly as the team at Johnson City Medical Center has worked to stay up-to-date on the latest treatment strategies and information on new variants. But Tharp says the pandemic has offered a reminder that the fundamentals of patient care are necessary regardless of the nature or magnitude of the illness.

“I think the pandemic really reinforced how important the team is in medicine, having your physicians, nurses and respiratory therapists all on the same page and all with the same goal in mind,” she said. “I think it really reinforced how important basic critical care is for the care of patients regardless of the specific pandemic, because that really is your foundation for the care of the patient.”

During the pandemic, Tharp has worked closely with Ballad Health’s Corporate Emergency Operations Center to develop treatment protocols for COVID-19 patients within the health system. Beyond her responsibilities at JCMC, Tharp has also maintained a non-paid adjunct faculty appointment with the college of pharmacy, where she teaches and runs a critical care pharmacy rotation that is very popular among student pharmacists.

As she mentors the pharmacists of the future, Tharp tries to offer them the same guidance she received from her mentors. Find your passion, and then focus that passion to a specific area where you can best serve as an agent for positive change.

Throughout the pandemic, Tharp’s passion for patient care has come shining through, and she considers the team effort displayed on the frontlines of the pandemic is a silver lining of the crisis her team has endured.

“When in a crisis, a community really tries to come together and help each other out,” Tharp said. “That’s really the most inspiring part is seeing how we’ve all been tired and all worked really hard, but everybody had everybody’s back in the hospital.”

Next week we will profile Caleb Tull of ETSU.

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