School Lauches High Fidelity Simulation Pilot Program

A multidisciplinary initiative is underway involving the Thomas J. Long School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, the College of the Pacific, and the Arthur Dugoni School of Dentistry. Earlier this year, the School received the University’s Strategic Educational Excellence Development (SEED) Grant that will allow several departments (physical therapy, pharmacy, speech-language pathology, athletic training, and physician assistant) to start a pilot program using high fidelity patient simulation. The simulation uses mannequins that are integrated with computer software to mimic real patient responses such as resting and responsive vital signs, sweating, bleeding, vomiting, and reactions to medication. Cathy Peterson, PT, EdD, professor of physical therapy and co-author of the grant explains that “adult mannequins weigh approximately 120lbs and verbal responses can be preprogrammed or created in real time from a staff member who is observing remotely. Each mannequin and the supporting technical equipment and software range in cost from about $20,000 to over $150,000 for the most sophisticated devices used for simulating catastrophic trauma.”patient simulation

Having access to a simulation lab will allow health care faculty to train future health care professionals for real life situations. By working in an interactive environment, students will gain hands-on experience and feedback in dealing with a crisis or medical emergency. “We expect that bringing this state-of-the-art technology for Pacific students will allow them to learn new clinical techniques and to apply didactic knowledge in a low-risk simulated clinical environment,” said Dr. Peterson.

Dr. Peterson shares the team’s vision for a $2 million Pacific Health Sciences High Fidelity Simulation Center and how it can impact partnering disciplines, including the athletic training and physician assistant programs. The center will help “create opportunities for interprofessional education at Pacific, better prepare students for clinical experiences in acute and long-term care, foster more significant bonds among students from different clinical programs, enhance alumni and donor relations, and attract and retain faculty to teach and conduct research using state-of-the-art teaching technology,” said Peterson.

Deepti Vyas, PharmD, BCPS, assistant professor of pharmacy practice and co-author of the grant, has worked with simulators at other institutions prior to coming to Pacific and has published research on the benefits for students. A recent survey of pharmacy schools indicated that a majority of schools are using high fidelity simulators to create real world learning environments. We are excited that Pacific is able to provide this same opportunity for our students. We anticipate that this simulation lab will allow us to develop educational activities which center on topics such as measuring reduction of medication errors, determining efficacy in providing interprofessional education (IPE) opportunities and evaluating improvement in clinical knowledge and skills.

The simulation lab will not only provide opportunities for collaboration between colleges and programs at Pacific but also with the community. “We also expect to develop some relationships with stakeholders in the community including nearby hospitals, clinics and health care programs,” said Dr. Peterson.

Guest Blog: Reginald Ramirez ’16, ASP President

Reginald RamirezOne of my greatest highlights since becoming a proud Tiger at the Thomas J. Long School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences was becoming the American Pharmacists Association – Academy of Student Pharmacists (APhA-ASP) president. I sought out this opportunity in order to make an impact in the pharmacy profession because it has always been my dream to become a pharmacist.

As president, I want to promote the different aspects of the pharmacy profession to fellow students – through sharing knowledge I gained from attending local association meetings and annual conferences around the nation. The APhA-ASP executive board aims to provide opportunities to our fellow colleagues to enhance their professional growth and interest in the field of pharmacy. I want to empower every student to pursue their aspirations and encourage them to attend pharmacy conferences in order to become proactive in our profession.

In the community, I enjoy providing patient care at various health fairs and interacting with diverse populations. Through this service, I hope to inform patients about the role of pharmacists as members of the health care team. Hopefully, the time I spend with them will make a difference and help them take the next step to a healthier life. These acts of kindness and willingness to help others will motivate me to be a better person and to become a great future pharmacist.


Reginald Ramirez ’16
Student Pharmacist
2015-2016 APhA-ASP President


Student Spotlight: Anna Barrett ’16

Anna Barrett ‘16, student physical therapist, received the Team Osan Spouses’ Club Continuing Education Scholarship. The $2,250 scholarship recognizes military personnel or their dependents for their leadership, honors and community service. Barrett met her husband, Matthew, while studying exercise biology at University of California in Davis. “He loves to remind me of the fact that I introduced myself to him first,” she said. Matthew is an officer in the U.S. Air Force and is an A-10 pilot.Anna Barrett_resized

“I feel extremely honored to receive this scholarship amongst the many deserving students who have family members stationed in South Korea.  I truly appreciate the commitment of Team Osan Spouses’ Club to the academic and professional advancement of military spouses,” said Barrett.

The scholarship will support Barrett as she pursues a doctor of physical therapist degree at Pacific. She said she chose Pacific for its powerful alumni network and resources in the community. Among her professional career goals, Barrett hopes to bring individualized and empathetic care to veterans especially those who require prosthetics. “I want to be part of something bigger than myself and am I am so excited to have the opportunity to restore movement to those with limitations.”

Barrett will spend the first two years of her marriage apart from her husband. “It has been hard but I am so blessed to have a husband who supports my professional goals.” When asked about her thoughts on being a military spouse Barrett said, “What I love most about being a military spouse is the support, kindness, and camaraderie of the military community.

Barrett grew up in Chico with her parents and older sister. When she was 18, she spent a summer in Dubai teaching English. During her childhood, she was a two-time artistic roller skating national champion and still enjoys roller-skating in her spare time. She also credits her parents, both of whom are teachers, for encouraging her love of learning and helping her to become the person she is today.



Faculty Spotlight: Melanie Felmlee, PhD

Felmlee resizedMelanie Felmlee, PhD, admits she teaches a class that isn’t a student favorite: Pharmacokinetics & Advanced Drug Delivery Systems. Yet, students’ initial thoughts don’t deter her. As an assistant professor of Pharmaceutics and Medicinal Chemistry, Dr. Felmlee chose the teaching profession because it is “flexible and fun.” She uses students’ perceptions to help her create a curriculum based on “active learning with ongoing conversations” that will encourage students to appreciate the subject and look at it from different perspectives. “Pharmacokinetics doesn’t appeal to everyone so I try to find interesting ways to teach students how to appreciate and utilize the content and formulas,” said Dr. Felmlee.

Dr. Felmlee received her bachelor of science in biomedical toxicology from University of Guelph, her master of science in pharmacy from University of Saskatchewan and her doctor of philosophy in pharmaceutical sciences from SUNY, University at Buffalo where she also completed a postdoctoral fellowship. Dr. Felmlee is the author of over 30 peer-reviewed publications and abstracts. She is a member of the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists (AAPS), the American Society of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics (ASPET) and the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP).

Her research interests are in the areas of drug transport, pharmacokinetics and pharmacogenomics, specifically looking at the role of transporter expression/regulation in modifying drug pharmacokinetics and toxicity.

Prior to coming to Pacific, Dr. Felmlee and her family lived in New York for 10 years. She describes Pacific as “family-like, comfortable and familiar.” In New York, she had an acre of land which she used to garden – a hobby that she loves. She also enjoys house renovations and construction work.


Faculty Spotlight: Gabriella Musacchia, PhD

Gabriella Musacchia resizedAs a professional trumpet player, Gabriella Musacchia, PhD, became interested in psychobiology of music which led her to study how live music changes the way people perceived a song. Recently, Dr. Musacchia joined the Department of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology as an assistant professor. She received her bachelor of arts in psychobiology from University of California, Santa Cruz and her doctor of philosophy in communication sciences and disorders from Northwestern University.

“I chose to focus in audiology and communication sciences and disorders because I became fascinated not only with music, but with the physics of sound and speech, and how these signals are transposed from the pinna to the cortex,” said Dr. Musacchia.

Dr. Musacchia joined Pacific for its excellence in professional education and she is “impressed by the commitment of the department and school administration to further that goal.” She plans to use an individualized approach to curriculum and assessment to prepare future audiologists. Her approach incorporates classroom participation, demonstrations, group breakout sessions and “learning by doing.”

“Today’s audiologists need to be prepared to communicate professionally with patients, researchers, medical doctors and business professionals. Therefore, they not only need to be proficient in their skills but also have a working knowledge of research, physics and physicality of the hearing mechanism,” she said.

In her early professional career, she conducted research for the W.M. Keck Foundation Center for Integrative Neurosciences at University of California, San Francisco and Brain-Computer Interface Development at the N.A.S.A. Ames Research Center in Mountain View. Dr. Musacchia completed a post-doctoral fellowship sponsored by the Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (F32) at the Nathan Kline Institute for Psychiatric Research in Orangeburg, New York. Following this, she completed a second post-doctoral position in developmental neuroscience at the Infancy Studies Laboratory at the Center for Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience at Rutgers University in Newark.

Her research interests revolve around the neuronal mechanisms of hearing. She is also active in foundations for early music education (e.g. VH1 Save the Music) and is the developer and president of Baby Rhythms®, a music program for infants and toddlers.

“My long-term goal is to generate research that is translatable to the classroom and clinic.”

A few interesting facts about Dr. Musacchia include: she is currently learning to speak Korean, she played trumpet in a 15-piece funk and disco band during her twenties, and she has a weakness for peanut butter and chocolate ice cream, but does not like chocolate.


Student Spotlight: April Nguyen ’16

April NguyenApril Nguyen ‘16 means business when it comes to her role as the 2014-2015 vice president of legislative affairs. Originally drawn to the Thomas J. Long School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences for its accelerated program, Nguyen spent time considering other options but found the School to have the most efficient and challenging pharmacy program in California, as well as a focus on leadership, outreach and networking.

In her leadership capacity, she served as a state liaison representing the pharmacy student body and local pharmacist associations. During the first legislative week at University of the Pacific, Nguyen organized eight events, which promoted the potential impact student pharmacists can make on legislation. Her leadership in organizing the annual “Immunize the Mayor” event resulted in a City of Stockton proclamation that officially named October as American Pharmacists Month. Through her role, she also was able to collaborate with state and national associations to give pharmacy students and professionals a voice in the United States Congress.

“As student [pharmacists], we have the power to impact the patients we serve on a larger level, but students often feel too intimidated by the political implications to consider themselves an advocate. I wanted to take on this role to disseminate information to advance advocacy efforts and increase opportunities for students to become actively involved in the profession,” said Nguyen.

Nguyen is deeply involved in the community and strives to use her Vietnamese and English interpreting skills to benefit underserved populations. In the fall, she organized the American Pharmacist’s Association-Academy of Student Pharmacist’s (APhA-ASP) first health fair at the Midtown Farmers Market in Sacramento – which resulted in collaborations between several pharmacy schools. The event provided patient consultations to 400 community members in Hmong, Spanish, and Vietnamese.

In addition, she is currently on the books and electronic products editorial advisory board at the American Pharmacists Association. She provides the board with a student’s perspective when considering curriculum revisions and works in collaboration with the board at its annual meeting. The group analyzes and recommends new books and e-products that may be helpful to pharmacy students, professionals and technicians. In March, Nguyen was one of the first three students to be recognized nationally as an APhA-ASP trained advocate. The training series recognizes student pharmacists who have advocated extensively for the profession and inspired other students to become advocates.

After graduation, her goal is to work with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. She hopes to advance the pharmacy profession through regulatory and legislative affairs. Nguyen is passionate about educating the American public on drug safety and regulation as well as the role of pharmacists in health care.

“I hope to establish a tradition of collaboration and advocacy through initiatives such as legislative week or the APhA-ASP Health Fair at [the] Midtown Farmers Market to increase awareness of the services that pharmacists can provide to the community,” said Nguyen.

In her free time Nguyen enjoys traveling to exciting locales where she samples food and collects postcards. She also relishes spending time with her family and singing duets with her sister. Since her grandparents instilled a strong sense of her heritage, she is grateful to have the opportunity to practice her patient counseling skills in Vietnamese. Nguyen’s enduring role models have also been her parents who she sees as examples for success in life.


Zachary Contreras ‘88, PharmD, Served as Keynote Speaker at Pacific’s Latino Graduation Ceremony

In March, Zachary Contreras ‘88, PharmD, took his son to Pacific for the annual summer soccer camp. Little did he know, it would land him the role as keynote speaker for the Pacific Latino Graduation Ceremony. The ceremony is an annual bilingual celebration that honors more than 100 Latino graduates and welcomes more than 200 family and friends.

“After meeting with Ines Ruiz-Huston, EdD, Latino community outreach program coordinator, and learning more about the program I knew I wanted to be involved in such a great initiative. I was honored and humbled to be asked to deliver a message to such a distinguished group of young men and women,” said Contreras.Latino grad picture 2015_resized

The Latino community outreach program serves as a bridge and hub for the local community and Latino-based community organizations. It has an average of 36 recruitment and pipeline programs and reaches over 6,000 students a year. Dr. Contreras grew up in the Latino community and although he admits he was a bit naïve, he also had great family support. In his keynote address, he reminded students to “remember the sacrifices they made, to always give back, and never forget where they came from.”

“Some of these young men and women have grown up in adverse situations. I feel it is important to work with the program to help ensure they are successful and given the best opportunity to succeed,” said Contreras.

“We were honored to have Dr. Contreras as our keynote speaker. He is an inspiration for us all. We are truly blessed to have him in our Pacific family,” said Dr. Ruiz-Huston.

Dr. Contreras earned his doctor of pharmacy degree from Pacific in 1988 and has worked in many pharmacy industries including retail, managed care, clinical practice management, health care business intelligence and pharmacy benefit management. Currently, he is the pharmacy benefits coordinator for Sutter Select, Sutter Health.

During his undergraduate years at Pacific, he played soccer and his passion for the sport continues. Dr. Contreras holds a United States Soccer Federation national “C” coaching license and coaches at various levels. He is married to his wife of 26 years, Suzette, and they have three sons, Zachary (25), Zane (20), and Jackson (17).

When asked about his mentors he said, “My boys remind me that no matter how funny or cool I try to be, I’ll always be ‘dad.’ Last but most importantly, my biggest mentor is my wife. She keeps me grounded, shows me how to be positive and helps me keep a balanced perspective on life.”


Pharmacy Class of 1965 Celebrate their 50th Reunion

Alumni and guests from the pharmacy Class of 1965 gathered for a dinner to celebrate their 50th Reunion. The 50th Reunion dinner was hosted by Dean Phillip Oppenheimer, PharmD, and Associate Dean for External Relations Nancy DeGuire ‘89, PharmD. Alumni enjoyed reconnecting and reminiscing over a delicious meal and a slide show comprised of 1965 Naranjado yearbook pictures. Black and white formal and candid photos reflected the involvement of the class on campus. Class of ’65 members participated in many student organizations, including Lambda Kappa Sigma, Rho Cho Society, Phi Delta Chi, Blue Key, Block P, American Pharmacists Association (APhA), Kappa Psi and the Inter-Fraternity Council.

Julie La '16 shares how scholarships impacted her educational experience.
Julie La ’16 shares how scholarships impacted her educational experience.

Many of the pharmacy Class of ‘65 demonstrated a serious work ethic during their time on campus. Dean Ganes ‘65 shared how he worked as a welder and bartender to put himself through the program. Several others shared how they worked off campus, and participated in athletics, student leadership, clubs and fraternities/sororities, all while balancing the demands of pharmacy school. The class shared stories about their careers in pharmacy and recalled favorite and demanding professors. Mike Alexander ‘65 remarked that, “It was great to visit with old friends from 50 years ago. Our class graduated about 63 pharmacists, if I remember correctly, and most of us were friends and many remain so even today. Most of us had limited financial resources but, with the University and School’s help with loans and scholarships, we made it through and did not lose anyone for lack of financial resources. We were a fairly close group of students and it seemed a little like deja vu at the reunion.”

Over 10 years ago, Alexander, Stan Poncetta ‘65, and Ben Kwong ‘65 founded the Sixties Alumni Memorial Pharmacy Endowed Scholarship, as a way to recognize and address the financial struggles that students endure. Current donors are Mike and Linda Alexander, Dominic ‘66 and Joan ‘65 Favero, Ben and Robin Kwong, Linda Poncetta, Randy ‘79 and Nancy ‘80 Sasaki and Alan ‘66 and Marlesse Young. Julie La ‘16, one of the 2014 recipients of the Sixties Alumni Memorial Pharmacy Endowed Scholarship, graciously spoke to the members of the class at the reunion dinner and shared how the scholarship has impacted her educational experience.

Dean Oppenheimer delivered an update on the School and listed the numerous prestigious awards Pacific pharmacy students, faculty and alumni have recently received. The Dean also shared his thoughts about the increase in pharmacy schools within the state of California and how Pacific will address this competitive landscape. A question and answer session followed.

If you would like to join the Class of ‘65 and their sixties classmates in supporting the Sixties Alumni Memorial Pharmacy Endowed Scholarship, please email Nancy DeGuire at or call 209-946-2752 for more information.