Guest Blog – Unsung Heroes: Medicare Part D Preceptors

Rajul PatelI was asked to write a blog for the Dean’s newsletter about our Mobile Medicare Clinics and was thankful for the opportunity. However, shortly after accepting the offer, I realized that there were several different directions in which I could go and so I decided to share a little about our program but spend more time sharing with you who the true stars of our program are…the volunteer pharmacists.

Our Mobile Medicare Clinics have grown since we first began in 2007. That first year we served 72 Medicare beneficiaries and our student pharmacists helped them minimize their out-of-pocket costs through Part D plan optimization. Clinic turnout has steadily increased over the last seven years and to date we have been able to save 2,911 beneficiaries an estimated $2.23 million on their prescription drug costs.

Since the inception of our clinics we have expanded service offerings at each clinic site to include Medication Therapy Management (MTM), immunizations, bone density testing, cholesterol and diabetes testing, blood pressure measurement, anemia screening, asthma/chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) testing, depression and anxiety screening, falls risk assessment, memory decline screening, help with pharmaceutical assistance programs, and much more. To date, we have provided over 15,000 such services to clinic attendees at no cost. None of this would be possible without our students or the truly unsung heroes of our program – the volunteer pharmacists who supervise students in the provision of these services.med part d 3 resized

This fall, we have 13 clinic sites in seven different cities across Northern/Central California including our first ever events in San Francisco and Oakland. We expect to serve over 1,400 seniors and community members, many from underserved and underrepresented populations including low-income, racial/ethnic minorities, non-English speaking and those with permanent disabilities. As our program has expanded and word has spread, the interest of others has also been piqued.

I have received e-mails and calls from faculty at several schools of pharmacy across the country who want to find out what we do and how we do it. Time and again they are very excited until they ask the question “How is it that you provide so many services?” Inevitably, when I share with them the number of pharmacists that commit, give so much to our program, and allow students to provide necessary services to our community, you can hear the machinations (some of which they articulate) on the other end. “How do you get so many pharmacists to supervise your students?” And as many answers as I think I may have, that is the one question which always stumps me. I am not sure, but when I do reflect I am astonished at how many pharmacists give so much to the Medicare program and our students.

med part d 1 resizedTo give you an idea, between our 13 Mobile Medicare Clinics this year we will have 115 different pharmacists (total number of pharmacists = 267) that will be precepting our students while they provide the aforementioned services. These pharmacists come on their days off and precept events that range from five to eight hours in duration. They travel on their own dime from Los Angeles, San Diego, Las Vegas, and all across the state to lend their expertise and serve as mentors to our students. Aside from donating so much time, many make other significant contributions to the program be it paying for our wireless devices, lunch for 100+ students/volunteers at an event, food for seniors and other clinic attendees, pounding the pavement to help spread the word of what we do, and on and on.

I am humbled and want to thank all the pharmacists who have ever precepted a Mobile Medicare Clinic of ours. None of the recognition that our program has received means as much to me as what all of you have so selflessly given. I am truly humbled by your contribution to the program and feel indebted to you in so many ways. Mother Teresa once said that “Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are true endless.” To all the volunteer pharmacists I hope this letter resonates with you in the same way. Thank you.

If you want more information about the program including videos, program statistics, our fun newsletters and so much more please go to our webpage at go.pacific.edu/medicare or feel free to contact me directly at rpatel@pacific.edu.

 

Rajul A. Patel ’01, ’06, Pharm.D., Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Department of Pharmacy Practice

Student Spotlight: Yvette Young ’14, ’15

Yvette Young_resizedYvette Young ’14, ’15 is a graduate student in the speech-language pathology (SLP) program at University of the Pacific. She is the recipient of the Virginia Puich Endowed Scholarship. This scholarship recognizes students who have illustrated clinical and academic excellence who are entering Pacific’s Graduate Program in speech-language pathology.

Young grew up in Manteca, Calif. and only moved to Stockton a year ago. The support of the faculty and staff aspired her to choose Pacific. Speech-language pathologists inspires to help improve and impact the lives of others. “I was inspired to study Speech-language pathology because of the opportunities speech-language pathologists have to positively impact the lives of others by helping them communicate.” Young shares the same ambitions as her fellow aspiring speech-language pathologists. The Virginia Puich Endowed Scholarship has provided Young the opportunity to focus more on her studies and better prepare herself for the career that will follow the 15 month speech-language pathology program.

A compassionate, hardworking problem-solver, Young shares that receiving the Virginia Puich Endowed Scholarship “is such a great honor” and it means the world to her because it shows her that the faculty and staff believe in her and her full potential. With the full support of her faculty and School she is ready to apply her knowledge.

Young feels very motivated and ready to fulfill her purpose in life after she completes the graduate program. She encourages future speech-language pathology students to immerse themselves in the field. “It is important to fully dedicate yourself to your studies because what we learn in the classrooms and in the clinics will impact our clients and the community.”

 

 

Student Spotlight: Michelle Pham ’15

Michelle Pham_resizedPharmacy student Michelle Pham ’15 recently received the 2014 California Society of Health Systems Pharmacists (CSHP) Student Leadership Award along with seven students at various schools. The award recognizes pharmacy students’ involvement and contribution to the California Society of Health Systems Pharmacists and the pharmacy profession. Pham said, “It is an honor to receive this award because I admire how the organization advocates for the profession of pharmacy. They played a great role in the movement of Senate Bill 493 which was a monumental moment for pharmacists because it gave us provider status.” She has had the opportunity to contribute to Senate Bill 493 by working with CSHP Headquarters and other CSHP chapters as the President of CSHP-Pacific. The organization helps students to learn about health-system and hospital/clinical pharmacy early in their careers. The organization hosts events such as: the residency panel, residency showcase, and speaker symposiums.

The residency panel allows third-year students, who are currently on rotation and those that have matched with a residency program to share their experience during the residency application and interview process. Programs discussed included: Kaiser Permanente, St. Joseph’s Medical Center, Rady’s Children’s Hospital, Rutgers, Veteran Affairs (VA) Medical Centers, and Scripps Memorial Hospital. For residency Showcase, CSHP-Pacific invited residency program directors to present their programs. This year 15 programs participated including: Kaiser Permanente, VA Medical Centers, Children’s Hospital Central California, Health Plan of San Joaquin, Hill Physicians, San Joaquin General Hospital, Santa Clara Medical Center, St. Joseph’s Medical Center, and UC Davis Medical Center. CSHP-Pacific hopes to continue to provide students with opportunities to better prepare themselves for the process of applying to post-graduate training programs in the future.

 

 

Student Spotlight: Emily Holmstedt ’14, ’15

Emily Holmstedt_resizedEmily Holmstedt ’14, ’15 was the recipient of the Florence Scott van Gilder “Tolley” Endowed Award. She received this scholarship because of her academic and clinical excellence. This award will support her future plans to continue onto graduate school in the speech-language pathology field.

Holmstedt grew up in a small city in the East Bay called Alamo. Her mother was an alumna of Pacific so there is no question as to why she chose Pacific. Pacific offered Holmstedt exactly what she was looking for in a university: small class sizes, good relationships between professors and students, and a school close to home. Holmstedt’s interest in speech therapy began in her senior year of high school which prompted her to look into Pacific’s speech-language pathology program.

The love and passion for helping and working with others has always been a part of who she is. She has worked with the preschool Sunday school program at her church where she gained experience with working with many families. In high school she started to find her niche working with special needs students. She found herself coaching Special Olympics and became a teacher assistant for a special day class. Through these experiences she grew a love for helping students “find their individual ways to communicate and realized communication was such a multifaceted ability.”

Holmstedt shares her gratefulness and appreciation for the scholarship. “After receiving the award, I continue to challenge myself even more to study and acquire the best knowledge and experience possible as a future SLP because people who don’t know me are willing to invest in my higher education. I want to show them that their money is appreciated by doing the best that I can with the opportunities presented to me. It is motivating to have scholarships for students because it pushes them to be the best they can be and helps the student confirm that he or she is doing something right.

She has already put her undergraduate knowledge to good use when she helped create a community group called the Pacific Clinic called Pacific Aphasia Conversation Team (PACT). “PACT creates an opportunity for adults who have experienced communication difficulties resulting from a stroke to socialize with people who have gone through similar tragedies. It is a unique and wonderful experience for these adults to not feel like the one outcast in a peer group, but to be able to empathize and truly understand each other’s struggles. As a group facilitator, I have been able to witness the good that this type of social outlet brings to an individual.”

“I would love to start a group for TBI (traumatic brain injury) clients to meet and socialize with people who have gone through similar situations. I would also like to possibly lead a Bible Study to find a group of similar background and to be able to socially connect. I strongly value collective communication and have seen the positive impact made in the lives of those who are able to find a group of their similar abilities and to socially connect. I would like to develop more of these social outlets for people with communication disabilities.”

For Holmstedt education is more than just about passing a course. All that she has learned from her professors and peers prepares her for a career after graduation. “As I got into more challenging SLP courses, I always reminded myself that I needed to know all the material not just for a moment so that I could receive a passing grade and my professor and parents would be happy, but I needed to know the material because knowing that material could make an impact on someone’s life in the future.”

 

 

Faculty Spotlight: Derek Isetti ’08

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADr. Derek Isetti ‘08 is an awardee of the New Century Doctoral Scholarship and he hopes to shed light on voice disorders in the workplace.

Dr. Isetti grew up in Stockton, Calif. He received his master’s degree in speech-language pathology (SLP) at University of the Pacific through the university’s 24-month master’s program. This program allows students with undergraduate degrees outside the speech-language pathology major to obtain a speech-language pathology graduate degree; his undergraduate degree was in the theatre arts. The faculty he interacted with during his master’s program inspired him to pursue a doctorate degree in speech and hearing science at University of Washington.

As a professor he hopes to inspire his students just like he was inspired during his years as a graduate student. As luck would have it – he was given the opportunity to teach back in his hometown. “It’s wonderful to be back, not only in my hometown, but teaching alongside the people that inspired me. I feel like it’s a full circle moment. It’s like I’m returning to my roots.” For Dr. Isetti teaching SLP students is a different way to make an impact on society. “When you become a speech-language pathology professor you’re actually influencing multiple lives through the students. You’re indirectly connected to all of the individuals who will ultimately be served by your students.”

The New Century Doctoral Scholarship Award recognizes doctoral students who are pursuing a worthy research agenda. The American Speech-Language-Hearing Foundation (ASHFoundation) recognized Dr. Isetti with this outstanding research scholarship at their 2013 Convention in Chicago, Ill. The focus of his research is to help individuals with voice disorders who may be negatively impacted in their jobs. Many people may think disabilities in the workplace are strictly physical. His research shows that there is another type of disability that is not visible to the eyes, only to the ears. It is important for employees with voice disorders to understand that they have rights afforded to them under the law.

Graduate school and research can appear daunting, greatly because of the costs. Awards like the New Century Doctoral Scholarship help finance the student’s research and are very uplifting. “It’s also incredibly validating because it lets you realize that I’m not the only who views this research as being worthwhile. Other people in the outside world also think that my research holds value. That’s very rewarding.” He has become so appreciative of his award that he plays an active role volunteering to help the ASHFoundation sell raffle tickets.

Speech-language pathology is a growing yet competitive field. Patients of varying ages can have a number of different communication disorders, from minor speech impediments to neural damage due to strokes. All in all Pacific’s speech-language pathology alumni are equipped with the right education and experience to set them up for a rewarding career.

Dr. Isetti always encourages undergraduate students to pursue studies in speech-language pathology. “For those who have a desire to help others, have strong interpersonal skills, and who are strong academically, I can’t think of a better profession. Because it is so varied, there are so many different patient populations you can choose to work with.” He places an emphasis on learning with a purpose rather than just a grade. “Don’t simply do well in your classes, but also try to shadow other speech-pathologists and try to have as many volunteer experiences as you can because it gets competitive. It’s definitely a competitive field.”

 

 

Faculty Spotlight: Cynthia Valle-Oseguera ’12

Cynthia Valle-Osegura resizedDr. Cynthia Valle-Oseguera ’12 is originally from Mexico but has lived in the Bay Area for over a decade. She obtained her bachelor of science in biotechnology from University of California, Davis and finished her doctor of pharmacy degree with University of the Pacific. She completed her two general post-graduate years at an ambulatory care residency at the Boise VA Medical Center.

Dr. Valle-Oseguera’s inspiration for teaching began during her residency training as she was able to work with the faculty at Idaho State University College of Pharmacy. She found the experience to be rewarding because teaching the students improved her clinical skills. She looks forward to giving back to the Stockton community through coordinating Health Care Outreach Introductory Pharmacy Practice Experience activities. Dr. Valle-Oseguera will also be assisting in other courses including: geriatrics, Medicare Part D, practicum and a Spanish elective. She has returned as an Assistant Professor because of countless memories that were shared with the School’s outstanding faculty:

“One of my fondest memories was being part of Medicare Part D. There I was able to actively practice the material I was learning while making a big impact in our surrounding communities. I enjoyed the direct patient care and the family feel within our class.”

She attended the Interprofessional Education Collaborative (IPEC) Institute in October along with Dr. Eric Boyce, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Dr. Paul Subar (Dentistry) and Dr. Darren Cox (Dentistry).
She attended the Interprofessional Education Collaborative (IPEC) Institute in October along with Dr. Eric Boyce, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Dr. Paul Subar (Dentistry) and Dr. Darren Cox (Dentistry).

Dr. Valle-Oseguera’s professional interests include: inter-professional education, team-based patient-centered care, chronic disease state management, pharmacy leadership, and the provision of accessible health care to underserved populations. Her personal interests include exploring the cultural diversity of the bay area, tango dancing, crafts, and live music.

 

 

Faculty Spotlight: Carl Fairburn ’10

Carl FairburnDr. Carl Fairburn ’10 joined the physical therapy faculty in August as an Assistant Professor, teaching the same program in which he was once a student. He hopes to make an impact on his students by challenging them in new ways. Dr. Fairburn “look[s] forward to helping mold professional growth and challenging the students to become leaders in their field as well as within the communities they will be providing for.” He will be teaching exercise physiology in physical therapy and assisting in integumentary in physical therapy. In addition Dr. Fairburn will be teaching cardiovascular and pulmonary physical therapy this summer.

Dr. Fairburn describes his teaching philosophy as “never be[ing] afraid to fail.” He wants students to let go of their fear of failure and instead welcome mistakes as part of the learning process. This strategy allows the student to be engaged and fully participate in their studies. Dr. Fairburn hopes that with his teaching students will develop the ability to think critically and analytically in order to find answers to their questions. This skill will benefit their career when they become strong self-learners as practicing physical therapists.

Dr. Fairburn looks to his past experience as a student at the School and remembers how knowledgeable and supportive the faculty was. His experiences as a student will help him be a better professor in order to provide the same level of learning to his students. As well as preparing students to be top notch physical therapists, Dr. Fairburn plans to provide scholarly work in the cardiovascular and pulmonary fields to his profession.

Dr. Fairburn was raised in a city that has a larger population of cattle than people and has no stop lights. He was part of the Division Two baseball national championship runner-up team at Chico State. Dr. Fairburn also enjoys riding his 1998 Springer Softail Harley Davidson. Click here to read his alumni spotlight.

 

 

School Receives Cardinal Health Scholarship

On July 7, 2014 Cardinal Health announced a $2 million scholarship to be awarded collectively to the Thomas J. Long School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences and eight other pharmacy schools across the country. Yearly scholarships in upwards of $8,000 will be given to students who participate in the Entrepreneurial Pharmacy Practice Program. This program at the School is invaluable to students that are interested in pursuing careers in entrepreneurial pharmacy and with a newly established scholarship to assist deserving students, it’s more attainable.

“We know community pharmacists play a critical role in improving the cost-effectiveness of healthcare, and in helping patients better manage their overall health,” said Mike Kaufmann, chief executive officer of Cardinal Health’s Pharmaceutical segment. “We’re proud to support tomorrow’s community pharmacy leaders through this scholarship program, and we’re inspired by the impact we know they’ll have on their patients and communities, when they become pharmacy owners.”

EntPharmdCertThe Thomas J. Long School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences was selected for the the Cardinal Health Scholarship because of its successful promotion of independent pharmacy practice through its certification program. The program was established in 2011 after a grant from AmerisourceBergen/Good Neighbor Pharmacy. “This program is unique in the sense that it is part of the curriculum, it is a certification program. The great thing is while it gives students business experiences and background to manage a pharmacy or open their own; it doesn’t extend their time to graduation. That is important from the student perspective,” says Professor David Collum, Chair of the Program. Students learn how to develop their entrepreneurial skills through courses and work experience. They must take the Entrepreneurial Pharmacy Practice course (two units) and an elective (two units). Students learn the skills of the trade through an assigned E-mentor and Off-campus experience in an independent pharmacy.

“When I discovered the PharmD/MBA dual major program at University of the Pacific, I jumped at this exciting new opportunity with dreams of owning an independent pharmacy with a niche that revolves around my patients and their specific needs. Casting back on my graduate business courses, learning from lectures was not rewarding to me,” said Sophie Hoang ’16.

Due to student loans graduates typically have to wait two to three years before they can consider independent pharmacy ownership. Professor Collum hopes the Cardinal Health Scholarship will cut that time in half. Entrepreneurial Program Alumni benefit not only from the certification but also from the networking opportunities with independent pharmacy owners. Faculty also help by putting program alumni in contact with owners who desire to retire and sell their business to a recent Thomas J. Long School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences graduate. While the program hasn’t been in place long enough to see the long term impact, this scholarship is evidence that the industry is noticing the School and the entrepreneurial program all the while continuing to root our alumni in the leadership that Pacific is known for.

To learn more about how the AmerisourceBergen/Good Neighbor Pharmacy Entrepreneurial Pharmacy Practice Program impacts students click here.

Student Pharmacists Kick Off American Pharmacists Month with Health Fair

Midtown Health Fair_resizedThe Pacific American Pharmacists Association-Academy of Student Pharmacists (APhA-ASP) kicked off American Pharmacists Month with a health fair at Midtown Farmers Market in Sacramento. Student pharmacists from University of the Pacific’s Thomas J. Long School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences collaborated with students from California Northstate University College of Pharmacy to host the event which served over 120 patients and provided over 90 influenza vaccinations. Overall, the health fair reached approximately 500 people in the community.

In addition to providing screenings and vaccinations, the students promoted the profession of pharmacy by initiating the new patient testimonial program which surveyed patients’ perspectives on whether or not pharmacists served as a integral players on the health care team. The survey produced many positive results. One patient stated, “The only time I ever interact (with a pharmacist) is when I pick up my meds. Now that I’ve been able to talk to some, they are very educated, lovely, helpful people.” The students hope to continue this program to further promote the profession and use the information to improve their services.Midtown Health Fair - educational_resized

Event coordinator and current Vice President of Legislative Affairs, April Nguyen ’16, encouraged other students to implement projects they are passionate about, stating “I am excited to pursue my passion for pharmacy with our first APhA-ASP health fair in collaboration with two schools of pharmacy! I am proud to be a part of this profession, where every pharmacist can make a difference in the community with our dedication to improving patient care.” Overall, it was a very successful and educational health fair, and the students are excited to channel this momentum to host future events. Pacific APhA-ASP also held the Legislative Week at Pacific which included speaker events and immunizing the mayor and legislative members.

 

Welcome Back Dinner Prepares Students for Clinicals

slp dinner 1_resizedOn the evening of August 27, 2014 the Pacific Speech-Language Pathology Alumni Association hosted the 3rd Annual Speech-Language Pathology Welcome Back Dinner. The Welcome Back Dinner allows alumni and faculty to welcome the students back to campus, offer valuable clinical tips, and network. After the dinner, students were given an opportunity to learn from alumni experience in their choice of three (out of six options) roundtable sessions.

The roundtable sessions offer a variety of practice settings and insight for speech-language pathology students. At these sessions students have the chance to learn and interact with alumni working in their prospective fields. The six different roundtable session topics included: “Autism,” “Behavior Management,” “Discrete Trial Training and Positive Reinforcement,” “Early Intervention: Data Tracking,” “R,” and “Ross Information Processing Assessment-Geriatric Second Edition (RIPA G:2).” The rest of the night was divided into three sessions and students had the chance to sit at their choice of three (out of six) tables and soak in as much information as they could for fifteen minutes. There was so much to learn. Events like this are what set the Pacific experience apart from other programs. “Alumni provide first-hand experience, sharing their expertise and education,” commented Avenlea Gamble ’16.slp dinner_resized

Once checked-in, guests were able to mingle and catch up before being released for dinner. Nancy Harlow ’06, President of the Pacific Speech-Language Pathology Alumni Association, greeted guests and shared a few words. Susan Webster, Development Officer for speech-language pathology, thanked our generous sponsors, California Speech-Language Hearing Association (CSHA), the Pacific Speech-Language Pathology Alumni Association and generous alumni, faculty and staff that donated to the raffle. Dinner closed with raffle prizes for students; the prizes were generously donated by alumni and faculty for the students to use during their future clinicals.

Upon entering the speech-language pathology program, students are committing to help and care for others. The Welcome Back Dinner brings together these students and alumni that are already in the middle of this commitment and gives the opportunity to share this passion as well as helpful hints to make one another more effective. It is this passion for helping people that sparked the interest of student, Gamble and alumna, Mimi Tran ’04, ’05. Gamble described speech-language pathology as a “helping profession.” In conjunction, Tran said her “wanting to improve people’s lives,” inspired her to study speech-language pathology.

 

 

Rho Pi Phi Brothers Make an Impact in Honduras

Imagine a completely isolated place where crime levels are at an all-time high, where clean running water and basic utilities are a luxury to a select few, where the nearest medical clinic is located a day away by foot. This is the type of territory that few of us would voluntarily set foot in, especially if we were asked to do so during summer vacation. But this kind of place was exactly where several of our own student pharmacists journeyed to this past summer. While the rest of us were lazing around and enjoying our summer vacations, six brothers (Sam Abid ’16, Amanda Chan ’16, Lawrence Chang ’16, George Do ’16, Tina Kwan ’16, and Vickie Nguyen ’16) of the Rho Pi Phi professional pharmaceutical fraternity journeyed to Santa Cruz, Honduras for an annual Global Brigades mission trip. During the week of August 6-13, these six student pharmacists, along with 36 other volunteers, traveled to a remote, rural Honduras community in order to provide basic services to the residents there.

Honduras_group_resizedThe overall purpose of Global Brigades, the organization that facilitated the trip, is to holistically improve a rural community by providing them with support in all aspects, such as medical (dental, pharmaceutical, and gynecological services), architectural, and financial. Basic utilities such as easy access to clean drinking water were also arranged. Santa Cruz, the Honduras community that the volunteers were stationed at, had only a single clinic that was located a day’s walk away. Global Brigades is the community’s only source of healthcare, but the residents only receive a visit from them every three to six months so the services that the students provided to them were greatly needed and appreciated. Abid said that it was an eye opener to see “how much we take things for granted when there are people around the world who don’t have access to basic necessities such as healthcare or water. These people were in desperate need of help and were so grateful that we were trying to help them.”

But even before heading out to Honduras, the road leading up to the trip itself was one that was paved full of obstacles. The initial preparation stage posed its own set of challenges—plenty of fundraising had to be done in order to raise the necessary funds for the trip. Many of the medical supplies that were brought to Honduras were contributions from generous donors, but anything that could not be obtained through donations had to be purchased. Since Rho Pi Phi was not able to hold enough fundraisers to raise the funds needed, a lot of the money that was used to buy the supplies had to come out of the students’ own pockets. This financial burden made it difficult for the students to get everything that they needed for the trip. “That was one of my biggest regrets for the trip,” Kwan said. “We saw how little the residents of Honduras had so I wish we were able to bring more supplies to them, especially since we ran out of a lot of the medications.”

Fast-forward to the date of Wednesday, August 6, 2014—the week of the trip had finally arrived. After spending the first day settling in and getting to know the other volunteers, the students were then immediately thrust into a busy second day of preparing medication for the rest of the week. Supplies were organized, pills were counted, and medicines were sorted into individual packages. As student pharmacists, the knowledge and skills that were gained during their time in pharmacy school greatly helped them in their situation. According to Chan, her familiarity with drug names and functions was able to help her “quickly identify where the drugs are located and what the drugs were used for.” She said that the work she did was also a learning experience in itself since “the medications were in Spanish, so some of the medications varied from the ones we saw here in the states.”Honduras_creek_resized

The next three days of the trip were medical clinic days that allowed student volunteers to directly interact with the patients. Clinic days included triage, where patients would see a board of students and translators and tell them about any symptoms or ailments they had before they were referred to either a doctor or dentist. Students also asked the patients a series of questions (height, weight, blood pressure, family medical history, etc.) in order to obtain and record general background information. Children’s charla—where volunteers taught children the importance of maintaining oral hygiene by providing free toothbrushes and toothpaste and by teaching them a song to more easily help them remember how to brush, as well as adult charla, where patients were taught basic hygiene habits, were also a part of clinic days. Numerous patients walked for miles and lined up for hours just for these medical services and Chang said that when he found out that “in just three days of clinic, we managed to serve 1,046 patients with just 42 students, it was actually quite humbling to know that a small group like us could make such a great impact on a huge community.”

Having accessible, clean water on a daily basis is one thing that none of us had ever had to worry about before. However, to the people of Honduras, this is a luxury that few could afford. Due to the natural rough terrain of Honduras and its lack of paved roads, approximately 40 percent of Hondurans live without having access to clean drinking water. This is why the fifth and last day of service was dedicated to Water Brigades. During this day, the volunteers traveled to a different rural community to help build a water filtration system for the residents there. The lack of clean water throughout the year meant that the community residents had to resort to drinking from unsafe or infested water sources—patients that came in during the clinic days had to be prescribed precautionary parasite medicine in order to combat this. Nguyen said that when she learned that people had to walk for 30 minutes just to reach water and that they had to carry the large jugs home, “it broke my heart because these people had so little and they had to work so hard for something that I sometimes took for granted.” She said that this experience made her “really appreciate the simple things in life” and realized that “as a future pharmacist, I will have the ability to help so many people, not only in my immediate community, but all over the world as well.”

Like most others, Abid said that he originally went on this trip in order to travel somewhere and to try something new, but when he saw how kind and grateful the people acted toward the volunteers for their services, it helped “reaffirm that I chose the right field of study and that the patients should always be the first in my mind.” He recounted that one of his most memorable experiences during the trip was one that occurred when the student volunteers were playing with the children in the orphanage during one of the non-clinic days. According to Abid, one of the volunteers had a camera and was taking pictures of the children to give to them as a gift. After a little boy had his picture taken, he immediately gave the picture to Abid, calling him, “mi amigo” or ‘my friend’ in Spanish. When Abid asked him if he wanted to keep it, the boy replied in Spanish, “I want you to keep it to remember me.” Abid said that “this small act of kindness really stood out to me and showed me that even from someone who doesn’t have much, they are willing to give something away to a complete stranger.”

Kwan agreed with her fellow volunteers when she described the entire trip as a “truly humbling experience.” During the course of the trip, she had the opportunity to look inside the house of one of the community’s residents. Kwan described the house as “a bare, extremely small place with dirt floor and a sheet-metal roof blackened from poor air circulation” and that the “single bedroom where six people were living together only contained two small twin beds.” Kwan felt as though it was a whole other world out there. “People there were living on nothing,” she said. “For a whole week after I came back, it was hard for me to adjust back because it felt like I was living in excess. It made me realize just how much we had compared to them and I wondered what I did to deserve such a luxurious life.”

We often hear people say that we take things for granted, but we don’t come to the actual realization until we are able to witness it firsthand and see the jarring contrast for ourselves. “Seeing the area where some people live and how little they had made me a lot more appreciative of what I had,” Do said. “It really gave me perspective of how much we have and how little they have,” Chan said. “When I am a pharmacist, I want to volunteer myself to missions like these and provide medical care to the under-served. I want to be able to use my knowledge and passion for pharmacy to help those in need.”

Rho Pi Phi participates in the Honduras Global Brigades trip annually. If you wish to partake in an eye-opening experience that will change your worldviews, consider volunteering next year. Or, if you wish, you can choose to start out small with things like donations to fund this trip. It might not seem like much now, but it’s important to remember that it’s the little things we do that help make the biggest difference.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Physical Therapy White Coat Ceremony Honors Class of 2016

The 5th Annual Thomas J. Long School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences Doctor of Physical Therapy White Coat Ceremony was held on August 29, 2014 at the DeRosa University Center Ballroom.

The anticipation leading up to the ceremony was exciting to witness, all of the smiling and proud faces of students and parents alike. Everyone waiting for the ceremony to begin gathered into the DeRosa University Center’s lobby taking pictures.

The class of 2016 came in their best dresses and suits. Parents and families slowly entered, looking for the best seats. As the ceremony was beginning, everyone’s attention turned towards the two doors that opened up for the students entering in an orderly fashion. There was no hiding the priceless expressions on the students’ faces as they looked in to the audience and saw their loved ones clapping and looking up at them in awe.

Class of 2016 member is cloaked with his white coat by his second-year buddy.
Class of 2016 member is cloaked with his white coat by his second-year buddy.

Dr. Sandra Reina-Guerra ’97, ’99, ’03, Chair of the Department of Physical Therapy, opened the ceremony with a few words and introduced Dr. Eric Boyce, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. Dr. Boyce shared a story that touched the audience but must have been particularly inspiring to the class of 2016 and their mentors. His 86 year old father suffered from a viral health issue and with the help of a home visiting physical therapist he was able to help his father walk within a week. He described his father as being “independent because of the physical therapist.” Words of encouragement and gratefulness did not stop there. There “has to be trust, some benefits and relationship between the patients and the care provider,” continued Dr. Boyce. With his closing remarks he simply put that it is “no longer about you, it’s about the patient you serve.”

The warmth filled the room and more words of inspiration continued as Dr. Todd Davenport, Associate Professor of Physical Therapy, introduced the night’s keynote speaker, Michael Tubbs, the 6th District City Councilmember for Stockton, Ca. He opened his address with stating the fact that “Stockton is facing a lot of health challenges and in the San Joaquin County, Stockton is at a 30% poverty rate and 60% don’t have high school diplomas.” He connected health and education because these things are basic human needs. People lash out because they may be ill-educated or suffering from health problems that can be solved by simple medications or doctor visits. Tubbs proposed a challenge to the students as they enter the next chapter in their lives of physical therapy. “I want to challenge everyone to move towards justice.” Justice meaning, when we see an injured person on the sidewalk, do not simply walk away, offer your help. Simple action such as this not only shows our care for mankind but also shapes us into better individuals.

Class of 2016 members gather outside after the ceremony.
Class of 2016 members gather outside after the ceremony.

The event also served as an opportunity to recognize the Alumna of the Year award recipient. This year Dr. Josephine “Jody” Nance ’90, ’03 was acknowledged as the “2014 Physical Therapy Alumna of the Year.” Dr. Nance opened her speech with quotes from a motivational video she found on YouTube about the topic of why we fall. No one understands the late nights and the strenuous study sessions like Dr. Nance. “You have to sacrifice what you are for what you will become,” an everlasting statement she made to the students. This wisdom not only applies to the physical therapy class but to so many aspects of our lives.

Following the speakers, was the cloaking of the class of 2016. Family members excitedly stood up with their cameras ready. Flashes, applauses, and words of encouragement were exchanged as the students walked onto the stage to be cloaked with their white coats by their second year mentors. Congratulations to another brilliant class!

In the words of Michael Tubbs: “What are you prepared to do today so that 50 years from now another child will have the opportunity to become a physical therapist?”

The White Coat Ceremony is generously sponsored by Kaiser Permanente through The Healthy Children Grant which intends to combat obesity in the community.