Learning Goes Beyond Tutoring at the Language-Literacy Center

llc_group_photoJeannene M. Ward-Lonergan, PhD, professor of speech-language pathology and Jill K. Duthie, PhD, CCC-SLP, associate professor of speech-language pathology, identified a need for literacy services in the community surrounding Pacific. They also observed that the scope of practice for speech-language pathologists has expanded beyond speaking and listening to include reading and writing. In response they established the Language-Literacy Center (LLC), made possible through a Strategic Educational Excellence Development grant from the University’s Strategic Investment Fund.

The LLC offers assessment and treatment sessions to students in grades 1-12, free of charge. “We really feel that there is a need to provide literacy services for students with language disorders in our area,” said Dr. Ward-Lonergan. “We provide services free of charge to meet the needs in the community.” Speech-language pathology (SLP) graduate students met the LLC’s first group of clients in September 2015.

Alina Crom ’17 emphasizes that the services the LLC offers are fundamentally different than tutoring, which focuses on passing a certain test or class. In contrast, at the LLC, clients are taught learning strategies. These lifelong skills can be applied to a wide variety of areas in the classroom and beyond. Dr. Ward-Lonergan explains that students are taught “a set of steps they follow, that they can use wherever they go, not to just get through one assignment.”

In addition to representing a wide range of skill levels, the clients are culturally and linguistically diverse. “The children are at a variety of levels in their need for intervention,” said Dr. Duthie. “Some children are working on very beginning reading skills, some haven’t yet learned how to decode simple words. Others are reading, but not at their grade level.” What the clients have in common is that they have a mild to moderate language disorder. Dr. Ward-Lonergan explains, “They have a significant difficulty comprehending and/or producing language.” Crom found that many of the clients have what she describes as “splinter skills.” She elaborates, “[They were] really strong in one area, such as reading, but would have trouble in other areas.”

The LLC gives SLP students the opportunity to apply, in a clinical setting, the concepts they are learning in their courses. Dr. Ward-Lonergan elaborates, “Students have an opportunity to engage in evidence-based practice with these clients.” She explains that the SLP profession has expanded to increasingly include written language. As the profession evolves, the ways in which graduate students are trained has been updated to reflect the changes, ensuring that graduates are prepared for the demands of the profession when they enter the field. Pacific’s SLP students gain clinical experience at the Scottish Rite Childhood Language Disorders Center, which focuses on speaking and listening. In contrast, the LLC focuses on “how to assess and treat written language disorders,” shares Dr. Ward-Lonergan.

Through the LLC, students are given an immersive clinical experience. Christi Shaver ’17 explains that the students are responsible for planning their therapy sessions. Dr. Ward-Lonergan and Dr. Duthie are available to offer guidance, but the students are responsible for deciding how they are going to address the topic, how to tailor it to the client and how to make it engaging. One way the students make therapy fun for the client is to create themed lessons around their interests, such as bugs or superheroes.

The SLP students agreed that working with this age group requires flexibility, creativity and patience. Caitlin Elam ’17 shared that she had a client with behavioral issues. “I had to get a token system going to keep him on track,” explained Elam. Shaver emphasizes the importance of starting speech therapy at a young age. “This is such a formative time in their lives,” said Shaver. “If they can get this extra help early on it can make a huge impact on the rest of their educational career.”

Dr. Ward-Lonergan and Dr. Duthie see the benefits for both the graduate students and the community. Dr. Duthie shares, “We hope to obtain funding to continue to provide these services beyond our two year grant.” Shaver found working with clients at the LLC to be an eye-opening experience. She shares, “Reading as it connects to writing, as it connects to the overall language system, is more complex than I could have ever imagined.” Everyone involved was overwhelmed by the positive outcome of their experience with the LLC. “Every single one of our kids improved greatly,” said Alex Fernandez ’17. Dr. Ward-Lonergan adds, “Their parents are very excited about the progress they are making.”

Do you know an individual in grades 1-12 who would benefit from these services? Learn more about the LLC and download a referral .

 

 

Faculty Spotlight: Derek Isetti ’08, PhD, CCC-SLP

deans_letter_summer16_derek_isettiDerek Isetti ’08, PhD, CCC-SLP, assistant professor of speech-language pathology, was awarded a grant from the University’s Strategic Educational Excellence Development fund for a project titled, “Prevention and Screening of Voice Disorders: Providing a Bridge between Academic Disciplines at Pacific.” This grant allows for the purchase of voice screening equipment and guest lectures on the care of one’s voice. Once the program is underway, Pacific students and faculty will have the opportunity to participate in voice screenings. Dr. Isetti brings to the project his unique combination of experiences in both the theater and speech-language pathology (SLP).

What aspect of this project are you most excited about?

Dr. Isetti: “The ability to share knowledge about the vocal mechanism with individuals who will be relying heavily on their voices throughout their careers. There is an aura of mystery around how our voices function and there are also a lot of misconceptions about how to best care for our voices. I’m hoping that this project will be an eye-opening experience, both for the individuals who take part in the screenings, as well as the SLP students who will be helping to conduct them.”

This is an interdisciplinary project; please explain what other departments you will be working with.

Dr. Isetti: “Pacific is fortunate in that we have a Speech, Hearing and Language Center designed to treat members of the local community who have communication disorders. Yet, there are students and faculty here on campus that could easily benefit from some of the services we offer. When you look at our campus as a whole, some of our most prestigious and long-standing programs are those that place a high demand on the vocal mechanism: teacher education, music therapy, music education and vocal performance.”

Why do you think it is important to create connections between academic disciplines?

Dr. Isetti: “Often educators and researchers possess specialized knowledge in a particular field, but that knowledge is contained in separate silos across the various departments. Before I became a voice researcher I began my career on Broadway as a singer. I experienced firsthand that using and protecting our voices requires a bit of both ‘art and science.’”

In what way does this project impact the speech-language pathology and audiology programs?

Dr. Isetti: “The equipment purchased from this grant is going to be incorporated into the curriculum for graduate level voice disorders classes.”

How will students be involved in this project?

Dr. Isetti: “Graduate SLP students who are interested in the field of voice disorders will be assisting me with these voice screenings. These graduate students will be able to gain essential clinical contact hours by assisting with the collection of case history questions, self-reports, auditory-perceptual and acoustic measures of voice. Aside from the individual screenings themselves as part of the grant I will also be providing yearly guest lectures to students in other departments. The focus of these lectures will be on the basic anatomy and physiology of the voice, as well as habits that can help or harm the voice over time.”

Can you please describe the equipment that will be purchased with this grant?

Dr. Isetti: “Believe it or not, our vocal folds vibrate so quickly that you can’t even see the movements with the naked eye. The fancy name for the main piece of equipment is a rigid endoscope with a stroboscopic light source attachment. This basically involves a scope that rests on your tongue, a strobe light that flashes at specific intervals according to the frequency of your voice and a recording apparatus connected to a computer. It is this strobe-effect that captures the movements of the vocal folds that would be lost with the naked eye.”

Why is it important for a teacher to take care of their voice?

Dr. Isetti: “A recent study by Nelson Roy and his colleagues revealed that almost 60 percent of teachers will report having a history of a voice disorder over their lifetime. Not only is there often a personal and physical toll on the teacher […], students are negatively impacted as well. More and more studies are revealing that students perform worse on auditory processing and memory tasks when they are listening to even a mildly dysphonic voice, as opposed to a healthy voice.”

What do you hope to contribute to the SLP profession as a result of this project?

Dr. Isetti: “I’ve become increasingly more interested in the scholarship of teaching and learning. I think there are some valuable insights to be had regarding whether the equipment used in the classroom by our graduate students could help better prepare them for their medical placements. I’m also curious as to whether this early exposure to vocal health information, and more specifically with the ability to see one’s own vocal cords in real time, might have a lasting impact on how our students use their voices throughout their careers.”

 

 

Alumni Spotlight: Sabah Ali ’13, ’15

deans_letter_summer16_sabah_aliWhen talking with Sabah Ali ’13, ’15 what becomes immediately apparent is her passion for speech-language pathology (SLP). “I always knew that I wanted to do something in a helping profession and with kids,” shares Ali. She was initially attracted to SLP because of the versatility of the profession. Working with her first client solidified her decision to pursue a career in SLP. Michael Susca, PhD, CCC-SLP, BRS-FD, associate professor of speech-language pathology, speaks highly of Ali. He shares, “She best represents the highest qualifications and characteristics of speech-language pathologists and the profession.”

Ali, along with co-authors Morgan Dufresne ’15 and Dr. Susca, presented a paper at the California Speech-Language-Hearing Association (CSHA) Annual Convention and Exhibition in Anaheim on April 29, 2016 titled, “Difference in Expressive and Receptive English Vocabulary Test Scores.” When exploring this topic they discovered that the majority of the existing research focused on children. For their study they decided to look at adults ages 18 to 65.

Ali is fascinated by research that looks at the experiences of individuals who are bilingual as she herself speaks multiple languages. In addition to fluently speaking English, she speaks Punjabi and Urdu, as well as several other South East Asian languages. The focus on their research study was vocabulary, an area that Ali can relate to from personal experience. “I always have those ‘tip of tongue’ moments,” said Ali. She explains that Dufresne is monolingual and was able to offer a differing viewpoint. They were able to compare their experiences taking classes as a native speaker compared to an English language learner.

She found that working collaboratively throughout the research process was incredibly valuable in preparing her for her career. “It was a good learning experience,” said Ali. “Working as a SLP you are working with other professionals. You have to learn to delegate work.” She adds that you also need to be flexible as you adapt to the viewpoints of other members of the team.

Ali with her poster at the conference.
Ali with her poster at the conference.

Dr. Susca had an unique approach to advising. He would take their draft and create three different options. Each option would have revisions, but he wouldn’t tell Ali or Dufresne what he had changed. He then challenged them to pick what they thought was the best version and give reasons defending their choice. Ali described the process as a “true collaborative experience” and one in which they were able to develop their own style as researchers. “He has such a wealth of knowledge and you can tell that he is so passionate about research. He prepared us very well.” She adds, “Without him I don’t think we would have become the critical thinkers we are today.”

Ali describes the experience of presenting at the CSHA convention. “It was so wonderful, it was such an honor to present at the California state convention.” She explains that at first it was a nerve-racking experience to present her research to seasoned professionals, but the overwhelming support of the professional community calmed her nerves.

Ali acknowledges that SLP can be a challenging profession. She believes that despite all of the hard work and energy that is required, the impact that a SLP can make in someone’s life makes it all worthwhile. “If you really want this don’t give up, keep trying,” she encourages. “You need to be passionate. Work with that passion and let that drive you to success.”

Ali is currently working as a speech-language pathologist in Modesto, California at Sylvan Union School District and Valley Mountain Regional Center. Ali is constantly looking for ways to both challenge herself and to become increasingly well-rounded. It is her goal to work with a wide range of ages. “I would eventually like to work in a hospital with adults,” said Ali.

She continues to stay connected to the Pacific alumni community. She notes that several of her supervisors and co-workers are Pacific alumni. One of her friends from her graduating class works for a neighboring school district. They get together for coffee once a month to debrief about the challenges they have faced and to share their success stories.

 

 

Patience and Play Are Key at the Infant/Toddler Lab

RS15630_Physical Therapy4How can students assess posture and balance if their patients are too young to follow directions? That was the challenge the doctor of physical therapy (DPT) students were faced with at the infant/toddler labs held earlier this spring. The lab was coordinated by Preeti D. Oza, PT, PhD, NCS, assistant professor of physical therapy. “Students do basic assessment of posture, mobility and balance demonstrated by the infant or toddler during play in sitting, standing and walking,” said Dr. Oza.

“The purpose of the infant/toddler lab is to observe the different developmental milestones of postural control in infants and toddlers of varying ages,” said Melody Mandell ’17. “Unlike adult patients who can follow commands to raise their arms or walk on their toes, infants and toddlers cannot follow these commands. We play with the kids to get them to move in different ways so that we can assess their level of postural control. For example, we observe how they walk on firm ground, then get them to walk on a soft mat to see how they adjust and how well they are able to balance. We can also have the child reach overhead for a toy to observe the range of motion in their shoulders. For the infants who are not yet standing, we place toys around them within reach and observe how they turn their bodies and shift their weight to reach for the toys.”

Samantha Moore ’17 discovered that working with young children requires creative strategies. “We wanted to see what they were capable of doing and the best way to do that is to make it a game,” said Moore. “By doing this we were able to look at balance, range of motion and postural correction strategies.”

In order for a physical therapist to be able to provide optimal care, it is essential to gain the trust of both the parent and the child. Mandell explains, “As a student physical therapist I may know more about developmental milestones, but the parent is the expert on his or her child. Showing that respect while working with the child helps to gain the parent’s trust. Gaining the child’s trust involves allowing time for the child to warm up to me and the environment and making sure the child knows that the parent is always nearby.”

RS15615_Physical Therapy22Moore believes that the experience of working with young children gives DPT students a strong foundation to build an understanding of core concepts. She explains, “It is important that we get the opportunity to work with children because it allows us to see and understand how posture develops. Plus, while working with these children it keeps us thinking on our feet and thinking creatively.” Mandell adds, “We learn so much in class about these developmental milestones, what to look for and how to perform certain tests, but none of that is valuable without the hands-on experience to go with it. Working with a child who is energetic and distracted, or shy and crying, adds another level of skill on top of what we learn in class. I am so thankful that we get to experience that now as students instead of being thrown into it for the first time in the clinic!”

The lab gave students the opportunity to practice the skills they had learned and acquire new skills. Mandell shares, “This lab gave me the opportunity to practice being creative in finding ways to get the kids to perform the movements I needed to observe. It also allowed me to practice making quick observations and remembering them until the end of the session when I can write them down. It also helped solidify the milestones of development by being able to see them in action.”

For Moore, one of the key take-aways was the value of patience. She elaborates, “I largely learned about patience while working with these amazing children. Even though we were having fun, we had to make sure we gathered all the data we were looking for. I was also able to work on thinking on my feet and changing tasks quickly to keep up with our patients. It was invaluable to get the opportunity to work with these kids and see the different developmental stages.” Dr. Oza is grateful to the parents who made it possible for students to gain this hands-on experience. She shares, “We thank our cute volunteers, without whom the students would not get this great learning opportunity.”

 

 

DPT Students Partner with OLLI@Pacific to Offer Balance Clinic

IMG_1786_editedWhen a child falls and skins their knee it can be made better with a Band-Aid® and a juice box, but for the elderly, losing your balance can present serious health risks. The Department of Physical Therapy partnered with the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Pacific (OLLI@Pacific) to offer a balance clinic. Preeti D. Oza, PT, PhD, NCS, assistant professor of physical therapy, oversaw the clinic. “Participants from the community get free balance and fall risk assessments,” said Dr. Oza. “They learn about benefits of physical activity and physical therapy. They learn exercises to improve balance and get reminders of simple home modifications to decrease their falls risks.”

At each session, doctor of physical therapy (DPT) students provided OLLI@Pacific members over the age of 65 a one-on-one balance assessment. The students then reviewed and discussed the results of the assessment with the participant. “With those results we can give them exercises to improve their balance and coordination,” said Suhani Patel ’17. Fellow student Kristina Chang ’17 shares that the goal of the students is to “help our patients understand what they can do on their own to decrease their fall risk.”

Patel and Chang volunteered to be the clinic’s student leaders. As student leaders they were responsible for determining the best physical assessments for students to administer. They also created handouts which reviewed the recommended exercises and provided information on fitness programs available in the community, many of which are free.

IMG_1780_editedThe clinic offered students the opportunity to practice applying the knowledge and skills they are learning in the DPT program. Dr. Oza elaborates, “Students who volunteer to organize the balance clinic get the opportunity to develop leadership and organizational skills. All of the students who take part in the balance clinic get an opportunity to improve the assessment and communication skills required to be a good physical therapist.”

Both Chang and Patel discovered that the clinic challenged them to hone their communication skills. Chang explains that in an academic setting patient care is discussed using highly technical terms. One of the benefits of getting out of the classroom is to encourage students to practice communicating with their patients in a way that it is easy for the patients to understand.

Patel describes the role of a physical therapist as someone who helps others reach their goals. She believes that the key to successful physical therapy is keeping the patient motivated. Throughout the DPT program, students develop the skills they will need in the future when establishing partnerships with their patients. “[We are] learning how to build a relationship with a patient; build that trust,” said Patel. She adds, “Our entire careers are based off interactions with patients.”

Dr. Oza believes that community outreach enriches the community. She shares, “Community outreach not only enables the individuals from the community to benefit from the services provided by our DPT students, but also provides the students opportunities to ‘get their feet wet’ with skills required to be a physical therapist. Students get to practice their interview skills, examination/evaluation methods and clinical reasoning skills required for appropriate interventions.” She adds, “We truly value this collaboration with OLLI@Pacific.”

Learn more about OLLI@Pacific or Pacific’s DPT program.

 

 

Faculty Spotlight: Neel Prasad ’96, PharmD

deans_letter_summer16_neel_prasadNeel Prasad ’96, PharmD joined the pharmacy faculty as an assistant clinical professor of pharmacy practice. He will also serve as regional coordinator of the Modesto/East Bay region. Dr. Prasad has always had a passion for patient care. “As a child I always wanted to do something in the health care field,” shares Dr. Prasad. “While in high school and junior college I realized I wanted to help people. It was easy for me to connect and understand people’s needs. Being a pharmacist allowed me to fulfill these areas.” He and his brother, Navindra Prasad  ’96, PharmD went through Pacific’s doctor of pharmacy (PharmD) program at the same time. The year that he graduated from the PharmD program was a momentous year for Dr. Prasad. He explains, “I graduated in May 1996, I got married to my lovely wife Aileen in July 1996 and I started working as a pharmacist in October 1996.”

Since 2000, Dr. Prasad has worked for Target/CVS Health where he has held multiple positions and had various roles. “I’ve been involved in teaching, training, development and leadership at every level,” said Dr. Prasad. “I’ve met tremendous people that have shaped who I am today.” He has applied the broad range of experience gained at Target to his role as a preceptor. He elaborates, “I’ve been a preceptor for Pacific for over 17 years. I’ve always had the passion to teach and train individuals. I feel I connect well with different generations and can help students bridge the gap.” Dr. Prasad was named the 2016 Preceptor of the Year for the Modesto Region. He gives credit to his whole team for helping him create an environment that fostered learning and where students were challenged.

As he steps into the role of a faculty member he has already outlined a set of goals. “I want to be a great teacher and mentor for students. Also, I want to share my knowledge and experience to make them better individuals,” said Dr. Prasad. “I would like to make the Modesto region a region that provides excellent sites for students to learn and develop. I want it to become a destination site for students. Lastly, since I am new to academia, I want to develop myself and excel in areas that are new to me.”

While a student at Pacific he was actively involved in Kappa Psi. Dr. Prasad shares, “Kappa Psi was an integral part of my Pacific experience. Kappa Psi jump-started my development and helped me with my personal and professional life.” He emphasizes the support he received from his fraternity brothers, which continues to this day. He adds, “I still keep in touch with the brothers that I graduated with.” In his new role at Pacific he is looking forward to the opportunity to once again be actively involved in Kappa Psi.

Family plays an important role in Dr. Prasad’s life. “My parents have always been the most influential people in my life,” shares Dr. Prasad. “I get my work ethic, my social skills and my drive for excellence from them.” Dr. Prasad and his family are Hindus. Dr. Prasad explains that Hinduism is a very difficult religion to learn. He has spent many years learning from his father and his desire is to pass on that knowledge to the next generation. He is proud to be a part of the thriving Hindu community in Modesto. He explains, “We spend certain days each month playing music, singing and praying with other members of the community.” In addition, he has been involved in many community projects organized by Target, including volunteering at park clean ups, food banks and reading programs.

Both he and his wife are originally from the Fiji Islands. His wife’s family still lives in Fiji and they visit every two to three years. He and his wife have two sons. As a family they love to travel. Dr. Prasad has spent time in New York, Washington DC, Minneapolis, Canada, India, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand. One of the reasons he loves to travel is the chance to try new foods. Dr. Prasad is also a sports enthusiast. His favorite teams are the Los Angeles Lakers, the Oakland A’s, the New York Yankees and the Washington Redskins.

 

 

Professor Emeritus Howell Runion Has Passed

Howell-RunionProfessor emeritus Howell Runion, PhD passed away on Wednesday, May 4, 2016. Dr. Runion was a dedicated member of the faculty for 34 years until his retirement in 2002. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Runion Family. If you would like to send a card to the Runion Family please use the mailing address below.

Thomas J. Long School of Pharmcy and Health Sciences
Attn: Office of External Relations
751 Brookside Road
Stockton, CA 95211

Services for Emeritus Professor Howell Runion will be held on Friday, May 20, 2016 at 11 a.m. in the Morris Chapel. A reception will follow across the street at the Central Methodist Church Hall. Click here to read his obituary.

Morris Chapel
University of the Pacific
3601 Pacific Avenue
Stockton, CA 95211

Central Methodist Church Hall
3700 Pacific Avenue
Stockton, CA 95204

Faculty Spotlight: Larry Boles, PhD, CCC-SLP

Larry-Boles-posterCan you predict if a student will be successful in graduate school even before they step foot in a classroom? That is the question that Larry Boles, PhD, CCC-SLP Graduate Director and Professor of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology wanted answered. He presented a poster entitled, “Predicting Graduate School Success” outlining the finding of his research at the 2015 American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) convention held in Denver, Colorado.

What motivated him to explore this topic was the lack of existing research on predicting the success of graduate students. Dr. Boles explains, “In my search of the literature I found very little data investigating this issue.” He elaborates, “Like most graduate programs in most fields, we ask for [undergraduate] grade point averages, GRE scores, letters of recommendation, etc. I wanted to see which of these, or which combination of these, predicted how our grad students did as students.”

Dr. Boles explains the variables he used in his study: “Just prior to graduation, our [graduate students] take the Praxis exam, which is a national test covering all areas of our field. I decided that would be a good and quantifiable measure of the knowledge and skills they had attained.” The Praxis exam is an important benchmark in the speech-langue-pathology (SLP) profession as an individual must earn a passing score in order to receive their certification from ASHA. According to Dr. Boles, Pacific’s SLP students have had a 100 percent pass rate for the Praxis exam for the last 10 years.

In explaining how he conducted his research he shares, “Using a multiple regression analysis I compared the GRE scores and each grade in each course to the Praxis score, plus letters of recommendation.” In presenting the conclusions he drew from this study Dr. Boles said, “The most compelling predictor variables for success were the GRE scores combined with grades in three courses: Speech and Hearing Science, Speech and Language Development and Phonetics.”

Dr. Boles joined the Pacific faculty in 2010 after over a decade in the California State University system. He has been impressed by the environment of support created by the faculty and staff that prioritizes the success of each individual student. Dr. Boles shares, “I think we do a particularly good job of giving students more personal attention [and] personal attention matters.”

 

 

PT Students Gain a Global Perspective Through Malawi Trip

group-photo“Pangani chonchi.” “Do it like this.” Over the past decade Casey Nesbit, PT, DPT, DSc, PCS Director of Clinical Education and Assistant Professor of Physical Therapy has had many opportunities to use the phrase “pangani chonchi” as she trains healthcare workers in the Republic of Malawi, a landlocked country in southeast Africa. “I originally went to Malawi in 2006 with my daughter to volunteer at St. Gabriel’s Hospital,” shares Dr. Nesbit. “We both had an interest in global health.” In 2015 Dr. Nesbit was accompanied by Sarah Haga ’16, C.J. Mooneyham ’16 and Abby Sheats ’16, which marked her 11th trip. Pacific’s physical therapy (PT) students have been going to Malawi since 2013 and have a trip planned for 2016.

At St. Gabriel’s Hospital students face the challenges that come with working in a rural setting in a developing country. Dr. Nesbit shares, “The experience at St. Gabriel’s is full of uncertainties and unexpected events. I’m continually surprised by the students’ ability to deal with these conditions, bond as a team and adapt to the circumstances.” She adds, “The reasons why this experience is pivotal to the students varies. For each student there are unique challenges that they overcome. For some it is dealing with the unexpected. For others it is gaining a perspective different from their own [or] dealing with the limited resources in the environment. For others it is reconciling the level of poverty and suffering with our own comfortable world.”

Haga shares that despite studying about the culture and history of Malawi prior to her trip she still experienced culture shock. She explains that even though she “heard many stories, read books and attended weekly classes all in preparation for this exciting experience I was not prepared for interactions I would have with this country and its people that brought me to a place of humility and vulnerability.” In speaking of her experiences she shares, “The Malawian culture is very social, personal and kind. Every exchange we had with a person in the village, hospital or in surrounding areas felt as if we were exchanging with a long-time friend. There is an incredible sense of community there and the people are quick to make visitors and guests feel welcome.”

Dr. Nesbit expresses, “These experiences solidify a commitment to physical therapy in the global arena. Additionally, these experiences strengthen their commitment to the profession, build their capacity to deal with people from different cultural backgrounds, highlight the importance of educating others about our profession and develop a resilience to situations that are difficult or uncertain.”

Haga performs blood pressure screening on a community member in Malawi.
Haga performs blood pressure screening on a community member in Malawi.

Haga found that her view of the physical therapy profession changed as a result of going to Malawi. Haga shares, “Prior to going to Malawi, my view of physical therapy was focused on the patient’s impairment and what I could do as a healthcare provider to improve their PT diagnosis.” After spending time in Malawi her focus shifted to take into account the overall picture of the patient’s situation as well as their cultural background. She adds, “While on our trip, our goals were directed towards improving the patients’ quality of life, whatever that meant for each patient. For some it was helping them return to their previous functional status of walking so they could return to working in the fields. For others it was improving their ability to sit unsupported so they could participate in daily chores as they once did. As student physical therapists, we were challenged to find what each patient deemed as important and channeled our therapy goals towards those aspects of the patient’s life.”

Dr. Nesbit has observed that when students have the opportunity to interact with patients from a wide variety of cultural and economic backgrounds it contributes to them becoming practice-ready professionals. She said, “I encourage students to have the courage to take advantage of practice opportunities that let them serve vulnerable populations, [both] here and abroad. I guide them to opportunities to do so through our national association, the American Physical Therapy Association.”

Haga discovered that her experiences in Malawi have improved her ability to serve patients as a healthcare professional. She elaborates, “Having worked with the Malawian people, I have gained a greater insight about how cultural beliefs and perspectives contribute to overall health. Regardless of where I am practicing, I will be able to apply this understanding towards any patient population.”

To read about the students’ experiences in Malawi in their own words visit their blog beyondpacificblog.wordpress.com.

 

 

Faculty Spotlight: Todd Davenport, DPT, MPH, OCS

Todd-Davenport-Headshot“Human subjects research is a human process conducted with other human beings,” said Todd Davenport, DPT, MPH, OCS Associate Professor of Physical Therapy. “Human subject based research gives us a chance to explore questions that are specific and meaningful to people.” Dr. Davenport has been appointed co-chair of the University’s Institutional Review Board (IRB). The IRB is responsible for holding all research projects involving human subjects to the ethical standards outlined by federal regulations. The committee reviews proposed research studies involving human subjects to evaluate the ethical implications of the research.

“The IRB assists with making sure that the rights of human subjects are protected,” explains Dr. Davenport. It is essential that in the review process the IRB weighs both the potential benefits and risks of the proposed research study. When the IRB is evaluating a proposal one of the questions they are seeking to answer is the matter of informed consent; meaning whether or not the subject has a clear understanding of what they are agreeing to. He adds, “Ensuring that while we humans assess questions that have uniquely human components to answer we observe uniquely human rights.”

Dr. Davenport believes that the IRB plays an important role in maintaining the positive relationship between the University and the surrounding community. He elaborates, “I find that for many research subjects, the only interaction they get with Pacific is through a study.” He adds, “Part of ensuring an ethical experience is to ensure an excellent one.” Participants in a study can contact the Office of Sponsored Programs to report any concerns and in response the IRB will investigate.

Dr. Davenport has served on the board for seven years as a committee member. He is honored to have been unanimously chosen for the position of co-chair. He shares, “It is deeply meaningful for your peers to believe you can do a good job and conversely it motivates you to do a good job.” For Dr. Davenport, his own research has helped prepare him for this new role. In addition, he recently earned a master of public health from University of California, Berkeley, which gives him a unique perspective on research ethics. Dr. Davenport adds that one of the benefits of serving on the IRB is the opportunity to see what innovative research his colleagues are conducting.

When asked how he would define research he responded, “the process of systematically asking and answering questions to yield information for public consumption.” He emphasizes that what falls within the parameters of needing to be reviewed by IRB is defined by federal guidelines and listed on the IRB website. Context and intent are the determining factors of what projects require IRB approval. At Pacific a wide range of disciplines utilize the services of the IRB including pharmacy, physical therapy, speech-language pathology, psychology, dentistry, biology and education.

The ongoing goal of Pacific’s IRB is to maintain a culture of ethics and compliance. They are also committed to making the process as simple as possible for investigators working with human subjects. “The last thing people want is a roadblock or a hoop to jump through,” said Dr. Davenport. He stresses, “The IRB is here to help.” He encourages students and faculty conducting research to ask questions throughout the process. He says, “If there is any doubt whatsoever people should feel free to reach out.”

 

 

Pharmacy Students Partner with School District to Provide Health Education

after-school-1Pacific has partnered with the Stockton Unified School District to offer an after-school program for elementary school students. During the spring and summer academic semesters pharmacy students have the opportunity to give presentations on a wide range of health-related topics. The groundwork for this program was laid by Sian Carr-Lopez ’85, PharmD and currently the program is coordinated by Cynthia S. Valle-Oseguera ’12, PharmD, BCACP Assistant Professor of Pharmacy Practice.

“The schools within the Stockton Unified School District host the educational sessions while pharmacy students from various professional fraternities and committees deliver interactive presentations,” explains Dr. Valle-Oseguera. “The number of attendees varies per event and per school, but all of the school sites are kindergarten to eighth grade and have about 100 students. The presentation topics also vary by date depending on the pharmacy group responsible for that particular date, but may include: bone health, exercise, eye health, smoking cessation, germs, nutrition and sun-safety.”

This program gives pharmacy students the opportunity to work with a young, underserved population. “This school district is composed of mostly minority groups with financial difficulties, which is reflected by its free and reduced lunch rate of 90 percent, [which] is considered to be extremely high,” explains Dr. Valle-Oseguera. “The program helps them learn, in fun ways, topics that perhaps they may not have learned.” She adds, “Our students really help make it interactive and fun.”

after-school_fruit-snacksPartnering with the school district opens up additional sites for pharmacy students to engage with the community, which allows them to gain valuable hands-on experience. Dr. Valle-Oseguera believes that one of the greatest benefits for pharmacy students is the opportunity to practice their presentation skills. Dr. Valle-Oseguera elaborates, “[Pharmacy students learn] how to teach a topic depending on their audience and how to interact with different audiences.”

Dr. Valle-Oseguera views the program as being mutually beneficial. She shares, “This program has been very well-received by pharmacy students, as well as by the District’s schools. Students enjoy having the opportunity to work with this younger population and possibly even mentoring them into a career in healthcare, while the schools enjoy hosting beneficial educational sessions for their students.” She adds, “Overall our students have been very professional, they do an outstanding job. Both sets of students are very happy with the program.”

 

 

Faculty Spotlight: Sachin A. Shah, PharmD

Sachin Shah
Sachin Shah

Recently there has been a notable increase in the number of emergency room visits related to energy drinks. As of June 2014, the Center for Science in Public Interest reported 34 deaths related to energy drinks. In a recent analysis of the American Association of Poison Control Centers’ National Poison Data System, cardiac and neurological abnormalities appear to be the most frequent. “We decided to investigate if and how energy drinks effect the heart,” said Sachin A. Shah, PharmD Associate Professor of Pharmacy Practice and Regional Coordinator, Travis AFB. “Our findings suggest certain energy drinks may increase the risk of having an abnormal heart rhythm when consumed in high volumes.” The study found that energy drinks altered a parameter on the electrocardiographic known to increase the risk of sudden cardiac death. It also showed that blood pressure was raised post energy drink consumption.

Students completing their Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experience in Dr. Shah’s region were thoroughly involved in the research process. Dr. Shah explains, “They coordinated the study, recruited patients and did data analysis. Additionally, they wrote and presented the paper. They were involved in every phase of the research.” Tinh An “April” Nguyen ’16 is extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to work with this dynamic team. She shares, “Working in an interdisciplinary team helps build our communication skills in collaborative practice. The dialogue between pharmacists and the statistician, cardiologist and other members of the healthcare and research team helped solidify my understanding of what was ‘clinically significant’ versus ‘statistically significant’ in multiple healthcare settings.”

Dr. Shah believes, “Research is one of the ways they can develop their critical thinking skills.” Nguyen echoes this sentiment: “[Research provides] another avenue for students to work with their faculty, it’s a great way to be involved first-hand in the discovery process that has shaped so many landmark trials.”

In addition to honing their critical thinking skills, Dr. Shah believes that when students engage in research it increases their ability to assess the quality of published research. He explains, “It helps them critically appraise where the information they are reading in a textbook or in an article is coming from and how it is compiled. It teaches them to assess the information that is in front of them so they can better apply it for their patients.” Amanda Chan ’16 shares, “Understanding the research process has given me a lot of insight into the clinical studies and trials that dictate current practice guidelines. […] Being able to quickly understand if a study is done well, or the significance of its results is paramount to being a great practitioner.”

Dr. Shah encourages future students to get involved in research while they are in the doctor of pharmacy program. “Start early, have genuine interest and get involved,” recommends Dr. Shah. Being involved in research as a student can open doors to future professional opportunities. Chan shares, “Having a research background helps provide me with a unique qualification that I have found to be highly valued by potential employers.” Andrew Occiano ’16 agrees, “Being involved in this study has offered me a unique experience that really sets me apart from other candidates.”

“I am very passionate about collaborating with healthcare professionals to further educate the public on drug safety, the regulation of drugs and the role of pharmacists as healthcare providers,” shares Nguyen. “Through the research process I’ve met pharmacists in the FDA and industry who have encouraged my pursuit of a fellowship.” She is excited to apply those skills to her upcoming two-year fellowship in global regulatory affairs.

The findings of the potential health risks of energy drinks has gained attention from the media, including CBS News, CTV News, Time, American Council on Science and Health, Times of India, Health.com and Capital Public Radio. Dr. Shah eagerly looks forward to expanding the study by conducting a trial with a larger number of subjects. Dr. Shah emphasizes the valuable role that student involvement can play in the research process. He explains, “At times students will come up with great ideas and concepts that can also help your research progress.” He believes that this study attests to the caliber of work Pacific’s faculty and students can do with good collaboration.

Dr. Shah collaborated with Occiano; Nguyen; Chan; Joseph C Sky, MD David Grant USAF Medical Center, Travis AFB; Mouchumi Bhattacharyya, PhD Professor of Mathematics; Kate M O’Dell, PharmD, BCPS Professor of Pharmacy Practice; Allen Shek, PharmD Professor of Pharmacy Practice and Nancy N. Nguyen, PharmD, BCPS, AAHIVP, FCSHP Clinical Professor of Pharmacy Practice.