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Letter from the Dean – Winter 2015

January 22nd, 2015 by Pacific PaHS Alumni

As we begin a new year I feel like this is a great opportunity to share some of the exciting plans we have for the School and our programs.

Like the School, the health care profession has seen tremendous growth in both the need for providers and in the number of institutions providing education programs preparing future professionals. The most recent trend in health care education has been the large growth in institutions offering a doctor of pharmacy degree over the last several years, especially in California. As we celebrate our accomplishments over the last sixty years, it is important for us to consider the most impactful advancements we can make in the next decade to keep the School on the forefront of innovative health care education. To accomplish that goal we have shaped the School’s strategic plan, as well as those for each department, with a focus on student services and support, teaching, patient care, research and alumni support programs that we want to initiate or expand in order to build upon our long history of success. I would like to highlight just a few examples of our exciting plans…

Over the next few years we will be establishing a student success center for the doctor of pharmacy program with two main goals. First, to support students with their studies: providing academic support, assisting with time management and life skills, providing curriculum support and offering special advising for students with academic difficulties. We have already taken our first steps toward accomplishing this goal with the appointment of Dr. William Kehoe ’74 as Director of Student Academic Success. In response to an environment of declining job placement and increasing competition for postgraduate training like residencies or fellowships, which have seen only modest growth, the focus for the forthcoming office of student career services and placements will be the expansion of our current support for students. We are excited about the opportunity to offer programs that enhance our students’ ability to compete for residencies, fellowships, graduate school and job openings. Additionally, we will be enhancing our curriculum to prepare for the new 2016 accreditation guidelines and, in response to SB493, we will be ensuring our graduates meet the requirements necessary for advancements in the pharmacy practice act.

pt labWith their focus on innovations that will enhance curricular delivery, our physical therapy program strives to employ teaching tools and methods that will prepare our students for contemporary physical therapy practice. The Pacific Physical Therapy Training Clinic is a seasonal on-campus pro bono clinic where students apply their knowledge and skills with clients from the community. For the first time this January students will use HIPAA-compliant physical therapy electronic medical records to document each episode of care. This pro bono clinic is newly supported by a mobile team of prosthetists and orthotists who work alongside students during client visits to collaborate during patient evaluation and care that includes implementation of specialty devices. Additionally, as healthcare professionals embrace the necessity to include interprofessional experiences for students, faculty from the School in physical therapy, pharmacy, speech-language pathology, and College of the Pacific’s health, exercise and sports sciences have received first-round approval for Supporting Effective Educator Development (SEED) funding to explore the use of high-fidelity simulation mannequins in the classroom.

Our speech-language pathology program will be strengthening the support we provide in our experiential learning programs with the addition of a new faculty member dedicated to student placement, ensuring that experiential learning sites are well served and that students are supported. The Pacific Aphasia Conversation Team (PACT), recently initiated by Dr. Larry Boles, is thriving; offering real-life experiences for our students as well as a valuable service to the community. PACT strives to help people with aphasia engage in conversation with each other. Traditional speech-language therapy works from the bottom up. Therapists try to help build words, assembling them into phrases, sentences, and then longer utterances. PACT is a place where patients can come and converse at whatever level they find themselves, with graduate student support to help them get their messages across. Our graduate students become quite skilled in letting the conversations go where they will, while offering the communication support our patients need.

The new doctor of audiology program will welcome the first class of students this fall on Pacific’s new San Francisco campus. The program, the first in Northern California and the only accelerated program in the state, is designed for 20-25 students per cohort and will help address the projected shortfall of audiologists in the coming years. When fully staffed, the state-of-the-art clinics will offer comprehensive diagnostic and rehabilitation services to some 3,500 adults and children each year while providing experiential practice opportunities for the students in the program.

rahimian labIn compliment to the business of educating the next generation of health care practitioners our faculty have also compiled an impressive resume of research programs. Three of our faculty members have received National Institutes of Health (NIH) grants to support their research; these are in addition to those awarded to our faculty from foundation, industrial and corporate grants. Our faculty are routinely invited to present at national and international meetings and conferences as well as publishing in their respective professional journals. It is particularly impressive to note that our faculty research spans across scientific, clinical and academic fields, helping to fuel our innovative momentum.

In the next edition of the Dean’s Letter I plan to discuss the critical importance of our faculty, alumni and student engagement in professional associations and highlight our absolute commitment to support that engagement and its outcomes. I am also excited to share our plans for expanding interprofessional education in our programs and networking not only in our own programs, but also those in the University and beyond to foster a learning environment for our students where multiple professions are learning together.

I hope you will join me in looking forward into our promising future. Please take a moment and comment on blog articles that you enjoy or spark up a conversation on the Facebook or Twitter pages. Finally, if you have a class note to share or you serve a professional organization in a leadership position or through service on a committee please let us know by sharing your Tiger Tale.


Until next time,

Deans Signature
Phil Oppenheimer, PharmD


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