PT and SLP Collaborate for a Study on Respiratory Muscle Strength Training

deans-letter-fairburn-isettiCarl L. Fairburn III ’10, PT, DPT, assistant professor of physical therapy, and Derek Isetti ’08, PhD, CCC-SLP, assistant professor of speech-language pathology, have teamed up for a research project to explore if respiratory muscle strength training (RMST), commonly used in physical therapy, can benefit patients who are having difficulty with speaking. For this study Dr. Fairburn and Dr. Isetti are focusing on individuals with Parkinson’s disease, as often these individuals experience diminished lung capacity and decreased speaking volume.

Ultimately, the goal of this study is to improve the quality of life for individuals with Parkinson’s disease by improving their pulmonary function, which in turn could make it easier for them to speak. Vocal loudness is intricately related to the amount of air pressure an individual can generate within the lungs. It is Dr. Fairburn and Dr. Isetti’s theory that as pulmonary function and strength improves with respiratory strength training this could have a translational effect on vocal loudness when speaking.

In this study, participants are trained on how to use small, portable respiratory trainers. “These are small hand-held devices that are typically spring-loaded,” said Dr. Fairburn. “They apply a resistance to the user when they are either breathing in or breathing out. The trainers are calibrated to each individual with resistance adjusted based on the user response.” Calibration is important as these devices employ the progressive overload principle. Dr. Fairburn explains, “Placing strain on the muscle causes adaptive hypertrophy and growths in strength. The diaphragm and muscles in the rib cage can be strengthened to improve the individual aspects of pulmonary function.”

Dr. Fairburn is the lead investigator of the study. “My responsibilities are recruiting and selecting candidates, study design and selecting outcome assessments that relate to pulmonary function and quality of life in Parkinsonism,” Dr. Fairburn said. “We also measure thoracic expansion, or how much movement they get in their rib cage.” In addition, he trains the study’s participants on how to use the respiratory devices and teaches them the exercise protocol. Dr. Fairburn also assesses “how much their respiratory function affects their quality of life.”

Co-investigator Dr. Isetti lends his expertise as a speech-language pathologist. “I’m essentially obtaining baseline measurement data on the participants,” Dr. Isetti said. Once he has established a baseline of the participant’s vocals he then follows up at two week intervals with a vocal assessment. “Some of the things we are looking at are maximum phonation time, or the length of time someone can sustain a sound, and vocal loudness, how loudly someone can project their voice.” In addition, he measures pitch range. He also assesses their perceived vocal handicap before and after the respiratory strength training, as well as the amount of self-perceived effort that a participant feels is necessary in order to produce speech.

Dr. Isetti emphasizes the importance of seeking out the expertise of a speech-language pathologist. “RMST is not designed to be a replacement for speech therapy,” stresses Dr. Isetti. “However, if use of respiratory trainers is shown to improve vocal outcomes they could be a valuable ancillary treatment, complementing the patient’s speech therapy.”

Several doctor of physical therapy students are involved in this research study: Alycia Clark ’17, Andy Westhafer ’17 and Amanda Whalen ’17. “Their responsibilities include assistance with data collection and helping perform some of the outcome assessments,” Dr. Fairburn said. This study is just one way that students have the opportunity to work alongside Pacific faculty. Dr. Fairburn shares, “A large number of our students are involved in research projects or state and national-level presentations. Opportunities outside of the classroom are available to all of our students should they express their desire to pursue research activities.”

Pacific is committed to creating an environment where interdisciplinary collaboration thrives. Speaking from personal experience, Dr. Fairburn has found that when physical therapists work with speech-language pathologists they can become a “cohesive, collaborative rehabilitation team.” Dr. Isetti adds that when students are exposed to rehabilitation research that is being developed outside of their own discipline they are better prepared to meet the needs of their patients in strategic and innovative ways.

 

Faculty Spotlight: Kenneth D. Billheimer, AuD

deans_letter_ken_billheimer“There is very little I have not seen clinically,” said Kenneth D. Billheimer, AuD. Between time spent as the owner of a private practice and working as an audiologist for the U.S. Army he has seen first-hand hearing loss from a wide range of causes.

Dr. Billheimer is a clinical instructor for Pacific’s doctor of audiology (AuD) program and an audiologist at the Hearing and Balance Center in San Francisco. Dr. Billheimer earned his bachelor of arts in communication disorders and a master of science in audiology from California State University, Fresno. He earned a doctor of audiology from Arizona School of Health Sciences.

What led you to pursue a career in audiology?
Dr. Billheimer: “It was purely by accident. In my studies, I took undergraduate audiology classes and developed a great interest in hearing and hearing rehabilitation. The next thing I knew I had taken all of the possible undergraduate courses in audiology, so graduate school was the next choice.”

What led you to join the Pacific faculty as a clinical instructor?
Dr. Billheimer: “When I sold and ‘retired’ from private practice, I knew I would need to find a purpose for what was left in life. I engaged a colleague of mine who has left the profession and is a career coach. She coached and counseled me into the next chapter. During this time, as fate would have it, I shared a cab at a national conference to my hotel. Dr. Rupa Balachandran and I sat next to each other. We talked about the Pacific audiology program and agreed to meet later that summer. The rest is history.”

For nearly 30 years you were the owner of a private practice, Hearing Science of Pleasanton. How does this background help you as you train Pacific’s audiology students?
Dr. Billheimer: “I bring to the faculty at Pacific a business acumen that will help the students I teach see the non-academic side of audiology practice.”

What are the greatest rewards and challenges of training AuD students?
Dr. Billheimer: “The greatest challenge and joy is working with a generation of students who are two generations younger than I am. Although I am in an academic environment, my experience is in the private sector as an audiologist and a businessman. I find myself buried in the same books that the student use for all their classes. I need to be prepared to answer challenging questions from bright students.”

What do you find most rewarding about working with audiology students?
Dr. Billheimer: “They are so excited to make a difference in the world. In teaching audiology as a clinical instructor, I get the greatest joy in passing on to the students my years of clinical experience from private practice, working in a teaching hospital with ear, nose and throat (ENT) residents, industrial audiology and other medical center practice settings.”

What notable changes to the profession have you witnessed over the course of your career?
Dr. Billheimer: “One of the most profound changes in audiology is early identification of hearing loss. Today identification is close to birth with the use of a tool called otoacoustic emissions. This inexpensive procedure is administered in the hospital by putting a small tip in the infant’s ear and doing a test that lasts a few minutes; it is not at all invasive. Also, we now have very sophisticated digital hearing aids and cochlear implants. All populations benefit from this technology and the success rate is the best it has ever been.”

In what ways did your experiences in the U.S. Army and the U.S. Army Reserve impact how you approach your profession as an audiologist?
Dr. Billheimer: “At one time audiologists did not fit hearing aids, it was considered unethical. In the military audiologists did everything, including fitting hearing aids. We were familiar with hearing aids long before the rest of audiology. My first Army experience was in a hospital that supported a division of 15,000 soldiers attached to a mechanized infantry group. I spent time in tanks and near large weapons measuring their sound levels. The second part of my Army experience was in a teaching hospital with residents in ENT. It impacted my career in identification and treatment of noise induced hearing loss. It gave me a compassion and understanding of the grief that an individual experiences as a result of losing his or her hearing as a result of a single incident. When I see a veteran in my clinic I have a sense of where they have been and the type of noise and other exposures they may have had.”

What are your hobbies?
Dr. Billheimer: “My greatest love is my garden. I love wildflowers and have a large garden; if it’s not raining or really cold I am outside in the yard. I love classic cars. I have a completely restored 1961 Nash Metropolitan convertible.”

 

 

 

Student Spotlight: Jennifer Elaine-Connsalvi Hodges ’16

jennifer_hodges_resizeIt was a bomb blast on the other side of the world that inspired Jennifer Elaine-Connsalvi Hodges ’16 to become a speech-language pathologist. Before coming to Pacific Hodges earned a bachelor of arts in child and adolescent development from San Francisco State University in 2008 and worked at the Ronald McDonald House. “While working at the Ronald McDonald House in San Francisco I met a 1 year old child from Baghdad who had become deaf due to a bomb exploding near his home,” said Hodges. “A non-profit called No More Victims flew him and his father to the United States and sponsored a cochlear implant for him.”

Hodges continues, “They stayed at the Ronald McDonald House for a year and a half. I witnessed the SLP working with him day in and day out after the implant. I’ve been blessed in my life to see a variety of beautiful things across the globe, but this experience far exceeds all else. Here was an innocent child of war who lost the ability to hear because of an American bomb drop. I was watching him sit in San Francisco with an American SLP who was completely volunteering her time to help in his rehabilitation. His mother and younger brother were stuck in Jordan for two years due to visa issues. I took the father and son to the airport to pick up their wife and mother two years later after the rehab and cochlear implant. I watched the reunification of a family that had fallen victim to the worst parts of humanity. He was able to speak and hear his mother. The tears just wouldn’t stop from all parties. That experience planted a seed that I just couldn’t shake; I wanted to help people take their God-given right to communicate.”

Hodges revealed her academic challenges when she started college at Rancho Santiago Community College, “I started from the beginning at the local junior college with really low math and English courses and retaught myself basic concepts. I struggled and changed my major a couple times, but I began to learn how I learn and the lights went on.” She found that the key to her academic success was understanding her personal learning style and creating a strategy for studying. She explains, “I needed silence to study, good lighting, repetition, visual, tactile and audio for information input. That took discipline, time, effort and sacrifice. Once I started seeing the results of my efforts I realized it wasn’t that I wasn’t smart, it was that I didn’t prioritize my learning nor did I understand how I learned.”

Being accepted to Pacific’s speech-language pathology (SLP) program was a decisive turning point. She shares, “Earning my way into University of the Pacific was one of the biggest and scariest accomplishments of my life. Little did I know it was just the medicine I needed. […] I felt like an equally contributing member of group work. I also had intriguing conversations with my incredible professors who always took the time to explain a topic or question me further to challenge my understanding. I came out of my Pacific coursework more confident than ever. Whatever obstacles come my way in the future I know not only will my creativity and social skills carry me, but I can also rely on my intellect that Pacific helped me realize.”

Hodges is the recipient of the Janet Nimtz Endowed Scholarship, which is awarded to an individual who plans to complete a medical internship. Pursuing her career goals required a significant financial investment. “This scholarship made a significant difference in my attitude about my debt,” said Hodges. Her plans after graduation are to pursue a career in rehabilitation. By making what she has invested in her education mentally easier to handle, it is easier for her to focus on working toward her goals of helping clients regain their communication skills.

Balancing life and the rigors of graduate school is challenging, but Hodges is undeterred and continues to pursue to her passions. In addition to working weekends at a restaurant in San Francisco, she is the president of a non-profit organization called Le Donne d’Italia. She founded Le Donne d’Italia in the North Beach district of San Francisco to promote and preserve Italian culture and Italian female heritage.

When asked if she would recommend SLP as a career Hodges exclaimed, “Do it!  Not only will you always have a job that makes you feel like you’re contributing to the world, but you’ll also never get bored. I have yet to find another career that is so versatile.”

 

Student Spotlight: Vien Vu ’17

vien-vuAn unquenchable thirst for understanding fitness led Vien Vu ’17, CSCS to pursue a doctor of physical therapy (DPT). He is a certified strength and conditioning specialist and a certified personal trainer. “So many times as a personal trainer I got frustrated. I didn’t know the answers to certain problems,” said Vu. He earned a bachelor of science in kinesiology from San Jose State University. What drew Vu to Pacific’s DPT program was the faculty and the resources available to students.

While working as a personal trainer he observed that professionals within the fitness industry discuss research findings, but there is a lack of quality, evidence-based information directed to the general public. He elaborates, “This is a passion of mine. There is so much stuff on the internet that is rubbish.” In response he launched a blog and podcast. His goal for How Fit Works is to help dispel misconceptions and misinformation about fitness by providing quality information and scholarly, peer-reviewed resources.

Vu’s philosophy is, “What’s not measured can’t be managed.” He shares, “I have an obsession with spreadsheets and numbers. I love data.” His zeal for collecting data has a practical purpose. He asks, “How can you measure change if you don’t have data?” Vu also emphasizes moderation and consistency. “Three times 52,” said Vu. “Who cares what you do in the gym? Show up three times a week, every week. Make it a routine like brushing your teeth.” He is committed to following his own advice. He makes it a priority to go to the gym even during finals week. “No matter how stressed I am I go, because I know I will drop the habit if I don’t continue and in terms of stress I will feel worse if I don’t go.” He emphasizes that it important to take care of yourself. “If you don’t take care of yourself you can’t take care of others.”

For Pacific’s students, faculty and staff who are interested in taking their physical fitness to the next level Vu recommends taking advantage of the resources at the Baun Fitness Center. The center has a group of nationally certified trainers and offers over 35 fitness classes. In addition, the Baun Fitness Center hosts free “Ask a Trainer” sessions on Mondays from 5-6 p.m. and Thursdays from 6-7 p.m. For more information contact Fitness Coordinator Caitlin Sommers at csommers@pacific.edu or 209.946.7300.

 

Alumni Spotlight: Alexa Hukari ’03, DPT

alexa_hukari_resizeBallerina, firefighter, veterinarian, circus performer. How many people grow up to be what they dreamt about at a young age? For Alexa Hukari ’03, DPT her childhood aspiration became a reality. At the age of 12, Hukari decided she wanted to join the circus when she grew up. Hukari recalls thinking, “I have to do that, I have to be a part of that.” She adds, “In high school people teased me about running away with the circus.”

Upon graduating from Pacific’s doctor of physical therapy (DPT) program she sought a position working with circus performers in Las Vegas. This led to the opportunity to do strength and conditioning, as well as physical therapy, for the performers of Cirque du Soleil.

Hukari met her husband, Ming Fang, in Barcelona while they were working on the same show. Fang was an acrobat in a Chinese troupe and Hukari was working as a physical therapist touring with the show. The two made for an unlikely couple; he didn’t speak English and she didn’t speak Mandarin. The strong connection between the two overcame cultural and linguistic barriers. In 2009, his partner was injured and she got the opportunity to audition as a replacement. She landed the part, which later led to the opportunity for Hukari and Fang to perform together in “Absinthe®” by Spiegelworld Las Vegas.

Hukari was 5 years old5 when she started gymnastics. She went on to be a U.S. National Acrobatic Gymnastics Champion and six-time California State Champion. While her background in gymnastics helped prepare her for the physical demands of her role in “Absinthe®,” there are distinct differences between preparing for a competition and training for performing. She explains, “It’s different when you are training for competition and you are working to peak once a year, one amazing moment. Working in ‘Absinthe®’ is 10 shows a week, it’s less about training for one peak moment and more about consistency.”

When performing week after week the focus is on being healthy, staying strong and avoiding injury. Core strength is key. She adds, “Acrobatics is really hard on your body. I try really hard to focus on all of the small things that add up to making your body strong.” Her background in physical therapy gives her a deeper understanding of maintaining physical fitness, which helps her to stay disciplined. “If I get injured I know how to come back from that injury and how to prevent it in the future when possible.”

When considering different career paths physical therapy was a natural choice. She shares, “I wanted to do something where I could stay involved in gymnastics or acrobatics.” Also, she has always wanted to know “how the body works and how to make it work better.” Hukari has found that being an athlete has made her a better physical therapist. She explains, “I can ask the right questions about what patients need.” This allows her to treat patients more effectively. Hukari emphasizes the importance of gaining the trust of  patients. When working with an athlete she  relates to the demands they put on their body as well as  the goals they want to achieve when rehabilitating from injury.

When reflecting on her experience at Pacific what stands out to Hukari is the faculty. Even after graduating Hukari felt like she could go to them for advice if she was uncertain about the best way to approach a certain aspect of a patient’s therapy. She adds, “I had the resources to make good decisions to help people.” She is grateful for her education, which has opened doors to opportunities far beyond what she could have imagined.

To read her story in her own words read “East meets West, and we fall in love.”

 

Faculty Spotlight: Roshanak Rahimian, PharmD, MSc, PhD

rs47743_roshanak-rahimian-lab-25

Roshanak Rahimian, PharmD, MSc, PhD, professor of physiology and pharmacology was awarded a $302,428 National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant for the study entitled, “Diabetes, Estrogen and Endothelial Dysfunction.” The NIH grant allows Dr. Rahimian to continue her research on the vascular effects of estrogen. She contributes the experience and expertise gained from two decades of working in the field of estrogen and vascular reactivity to her role as principle investigator. “I have been working on the area of women’s health since I started working on my PhD project at University of British Columbia back in 1995,” said Dr. Rahimian.

lation-based reports providing statistical evidence that premenopausal females become vulnerable to cardiovascular diseases in presence of diabetes,” said Dr. Rahimian. “Despite the sex-associated differences in physiological processes and functions, as well as pathological development and progression of diseases, research has predominantly involved male subjects and many knowledge gaps and paradoxes still remain.”

According to the World Health Organization diabetes affects more than 400 million people worldwide, over half of whom are women, and the number of diabetic patients is estimated to rise by more than 50 percent within 20 years [International Diabetes Federation, Diabetes Atlas, 7th Edition, 2015]. Cardiovascular diseases (CVD) is the leading cause of mortality and morbidity in diabetic patients.

According to Dr. Rahimian, “The risk for CVD is lower in premenopausal women compared to age-matched men. This difference disappears in the postmenopausal years and is presumably related to the reduced levels of female sex hormones, in general, and estrogen, in particular. However, premenopausal women with diabetes not only lose this sex-based cardiovascular protection, they actually experience a higher relative risk of CVD compared to diabetic men, which suggests that diabetes abolishes some of the beneficial effects of estrogen. Given this epidemiological evidence, the question arises as to what mechanisms underlie the loss of sex-mediated vasoprotection in diabetic women. This proposal will explore the basis for the loss of sex-based cardiovascular protection.”

rs47719_roshanak-rahimian-lab-1

While there has been extensive research into diabetes in males, much less is known about how diabetes affects the risk of cardiovascular diseases for females. Dr. Rahimian shares, “The NIH has been recently directing basic and clinical scientists to consider potential sex differences and perform their studies using both male and female subjects. My laboratory has made significant contributions to the study of sex differences during this era. We previously reported sex differences in vascular dysfunction in a model of type 1 diabetes (T1D), a project which was also supported by NIH from 2009 through 2013. However, the pathophysiology of type 2 diabetes (T2D) may differ from that seen in T1D, and it is known that the incidence of T2D is rapidly increasing worldwide.” Dr. Rahimian explains, “Over the past decade, obesity and diabetes have reached epidemic proportions in developed countries and has become one of the most serious and challenging health problems in the 21st century. Therefore, we proposed to examine vascular function in arteries using an established obesity-induced T2D model. The knowledge gained from this proposal will ultimately enhance our understanding of the mechanisms underlying the vascular dysfunction in diabetic premenopausal women. The enhanced insight into these mechanisms is expected to eventually also be beneficial for the male population.”

Dr. Rahimian emphasizes the collaborative nature of research. She elaborates, “I couldn’t have received this grant without the support of my school and university, and my dedicated past and current graduate, undergraduate and pharmacy students. As well as, my outstanding collaborators Dr. Leigh Anderson at Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry, Dr. Peter Havel at University of California, Davis, who provided us with a novel and validated model of type 2  diabetes, and Dr. Linda Shortliffe at Stanford University, the consultant on this study. I also appreciate the excellent support of the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs at Pacific.”

 

 

Student Spotlight: Benjamin Thompson ’18

slp-student-spotlight-benjamin-thompson2_resizeMusical festivals set Benjamin Thompson ’18 on the path to a career in audiology. “I began to wear earplugs at music festivals after a close friend recommended I consider protecting my hearing,” said Thompson. “Soon after I began personal research into the effects of noise on our auditory pathway. Audiology resonated with me because I enjoy working with people to improve their communication.”

For Thompson, music and audiology go hand-in-hand. He shares, “I would like to become more involved in hearing loss prevention campaigns for musicians and music lovers.” He adds, “Many of my friends are musicians, music lovers or work in the music industry and experience tinnitus. […] Hearing loss provides unique challenges to every individual.”

Thompson grew up in Newport, Rhode Island. He earned a bachelor of arts in communication and health from College of Charleston in Charleston, South Carolina. While living in Charleston he collaborated with local audiologists to conduct a research study about ear plug usage and concert attendance among college students.

Results of the study showed a lack of knowledge about noise-induced hearing loss and served as his motivation to design a community education event. “Of respondents, 70 percent have experienced tinnitus after attending a concert and 90 percent have never used ear plugs,” Thompson explains. “Short-term tinnitus, ringing in the ears, may be a precursor to hearing loss. With the results, I organized a hybrid education and entertainment event called ‘Decibel: Hearing Conservation Seminar’ with a presentation by a local audiologist.”

Pacific’s doctor of audiology (AuD) program brought Thompson to California. “I chose to be a part of Pacific’s inaugural class because of the need for audiologists in California,” shares Thompson. “Pacific’s AuD program in the second year consists of classes three days a week and clinical experience two days a week. I enjoy this balance of theory and practice because it allows students to exercise our knowledge immediately. Our program introduces students to Pacific’s Hearing and Balance Center in downtown San Francisco from the beginning of the program. We are one of the select accelerated AuD programs in the country. The fast-paced nature of the program is challenging. It requires sharp mental focus and diligence.”

Thompson loves being outdoors either camping, hiking or surfing. His ideal weekend would be exploring California’s untamed coastline, either in Big Sur or the Lost Coast. He  found a way to combine his love for outdoor adventures with his passion for audiology. “This August I organized a fundraiser titled, ‘Hiking for Hearing: California to Guatemala.’ I hiked the 210-mile John Muir Trail from Yosemite Valley to Mount Whitney. The trip raised money for an audiology mission trip to Guatemala this fall that two Pacific classmates and I plan to attend.”

Thompson encourages those who are interested in pursuing a career in audiology to learn more about the different specialties within the profession. He adds, “Pacific’s AuD program accepts students from a diverse background of undergraduate studies.” To learn more about Pacific’s audiology program go to pacific.edu/aud

 

Student Spotlight: Avenlea Gamble ’16, ’17

avenlea_gamble_resizeRedwood trees evoke different memories for different people, from Stanford University’s logo to summer camping trips in Sequoia National Park. For Avenlea Gamble ’16, ’17 redwoods remind her of home. Gamble is from Willits, California, the small city located in Mendocino County, 35 miles east of Fort Bragg, known as the “Gateway to the Redwoods.” The first time she stepped on the Pacific campus she felt at home.

In May, Gamble completed her bachelor of science in speech-language pathology (SLP) at Pacific and is now starting the graduate program. “I knew I always wanted to go into some kind of therapy,” said Gamble. “In high school I was torn between occupational therapy and speech-language pathology.” The opportunity to shadow a speech-language pathologist helped her decide which career path to follow.

Her advice for those starting the SLP program, either as an undergraduate or graduate student, is to connect with the faculty. “Definitely talk to your faculty inside and outside of class. They are such great resources and are very well known in the field.” She expressed that she aspires to follow in their footsteps. She adds, “This is an incredible community of very intelligent and very passionate individuals, I’m so glad to be a part of it.” She adds, “Being a Pacific Tiger has given me a life-long community of friends and colleagues.” The positive experience she has had as a Pacific Tiger has even changed the way she thinks about the color orange.

Gamble was selected by the SLP faculty to be the recipient of the Virginia Puich Endowed Scholarship, which recognizes clinical and academic excellence. Emerita faculty member Virginia Puich, MS served as department chair from 1987 until her retirement in 1993. Her focus on clinical training helped shape the SLP program at Pacific into what is today.  “She was a big catalyst for where we are now,” says Gamble. She is honored to have been chosen as the recipient of this scholarship. “To think they saw even a fraction of her in me. It is incredible to know they view me in the same light.” She adds, “Having the support from all different areas of my life is one of the reasons I am here today.”

Gamble is a member of Omega Eta Epsilon, a Greek-letter honor society unique to Pacific. “We focus on increasing literacy,” explains Gamble. Founded in 2011, Omega Eta Epsilon is open to students who are majoring or minoring in any language, as well as those studying SLP. “We are a very eclectic group; English majors, speech-language pathology majors and others who have a passion for linguistics.” Illiteracy can have a profound impact on an individual both socially and professionally. She sees an urgent need for literacy programs in the San Joaquin County; she believes that Pacific students help meet that need by hosting outreach events and organizing book drives.

Gamble believes in the concept of paying it forward. Upon graduating she plans to return to her hometown where there is a shortage of speech-language pathologists. “I would like to work in the medical setting, either a hospital or skilled nursing facility.” Her passion is for helping those with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease regain language skills. She elaborates, “To speak, to introduce themselves, to have those normal day-to-day conversations.”

 

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.”

 

 

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.

 

 

Donors Recognize Those Who Exceed Expectations

From left to right: Dean Oppenheimer, Elda Roscoe-Gustafson, Tobi Knepler-Foss, Frank Roscoe and Cori Sakoda at the Pharmacy Scholarship Ceremony.
From left to right: Dean Oppenheimer, Elda Roscoe-Gustafson, Tobi Knepler-Foss, Frank Roscoe and Cori Sakoda at the Pharmacy Scholarship Ceremony.

Above and beyond. The phrase is reserved for those individuals who surpass expectations and who are focused on the success of others. Each of the School’s donors can be characterized by their generosity and their readiness to support students who strive to go beyond the status quo.

The Emmons E. Roscoe Scholarship recognizes exemplary academic achievement and is awarded to the second-year pharmacy student holding the highest GPA in the first four semesters of the professional program. The Roscoe family has a long history with the School. The School’s founding Dean, Ivan W. Rowland, PhD, urged Emmons E. Roscoe, RPh, MS to leave Idaho State University to join him in establishing a school of pharmacy at University of the Pacific. Emmons Roscoe became the School’s first professor and served as an advisor to Dean Rowland, who valued the advice of the former dean.

Charles W. Roscoe, PhD followed in his father’s footsteps by becoming a Pacific faculty member. He taught medicinal chemistry and was awarded the University’s highest honor, the Order of Pacific, upon his retirement. Charles Roscoe was also instrumental in raising funds for the pharmacy building, which allowed the School to move out of the cramped quarters of Weber Hall to their current location on North Campus. The interests of Charles Roscoe’s brother, Frank, led him to pursue mechanical engineering rather than pharmacy, yet he explains that he has been treated as an honorary alumni. He shares, “The Dean and others had just been so open-armed to me that I decided to go back and have [a scholarship] made in my brother’s name.”

From left to right: Dean Oppenheimer, Farjana Akther and Donald Shirachi, PhD at the Pharmacy Scholarship Ceremony.
From left to right: Dean Oppenheimer, Farjana Akther and Donald Shirachi, PhD at the Pharmacy Scholarship Ceremony.

The Charles W. Roscoe Memorial Endowed Graduate Student Fund was designed to be a travel stipend which helps students travel to professional conferences to present their research. The scholarship’s focus on research is a fitting tribute to his brother who is remembered by many for his brilliant mind. Frank Roscoe shares, “His knowledge was just amazing. He’d give you the formula for any drug.” He is always excited to hear about the research that students are conducting. “I think those that are able to go present their papers, it gets their name out there,” said Frank Roscoe. He believes that this opportunity to present their research to a larger audience can act as a catalyst, allowing them to expand their horizons.

Frank Roscoe has spoken with a number of his father’s former students. They share about his willingness to offer his students support and words of encouragement. He has seen the legacy of his father and brother carried out in the Pacific faculty and staff. Emeritus professor Donald Shirachi ’60, PhD in particular made an impression on him. Frank Roscoe explains that when he attends events hosted by the School he is often one of the last to leave. He shares, “Every time [Dr.] Shirachi was sitting there talking to a student. I thought, ‘That’s the sort of thing my dad would be doing.’”

From left to right: Man Ting Chou, Karen Gould, Michaela Vachuska, Lucille Gould and Milana Vachuska at the reception.
From left to right: Man Ting Chou, Karen Gould, Michaela Vachuska, Lucille Gould and Milana Vachuska at the reception.

Another individual who exemplified the Pacific spirit was Jay Patrick Gould ’76. He grew up in a pharmacy and was slated to take over his family’s pharmacy in Palo Alto, California, upon his father’s retirement. His life was tragically cut short by a car accident in 1978. His parents, Carl and Lucille Gould, established a scholarship in his memory in 1979. “He was our hope, our future,” said Lucille Gould. She adds, “[This scholarship] keeps Jay alive, we never forget him, not one day.” She believes that a scholarship supporting Pacific’s pharmacy students is what her son would have wanted. She describes her son as someone who was “always thinking about others. […] He was a giving person.”

Lucille Gould’s advice for future pharmacists is to “make wonderful, beautiful memories. When you are old you can look back and have great joy. Try to be the best you can with what you have.” Frank Roscoe is a firm believer in life-long learning. His advice is to “pay attention, keep an open mind.”

Watch a video of students demonstrating the impact of their benefactor’s support hereClick here to read the full article about these recipients.

For information on how you can start a named scholarship or add to an existing scholarship through an annual gift, estate gift or asset transfer, please contact either Nancy DeGuire at 209.946.2752 or ndeguire@pacific.edu; or Susan Webster at 209.946.3116 or swebster@pacific.edu. All donations are tax deductible to the fullest extent of the law.

 

 

Alumni Spotlight: Cathrine Misquitta ’96, PharmD

deans_letter_summer16_cathrine_misquittaCathrine Misquitta ’96, PharmD recently served as a speaker at a Managed Care Series event titled “The Role of the Pharmacist in Controlling Costs in a Pharmacy Benefit Manager,” co-hosted by Script Your Future and Pacific PharmAssistance. Misquitta believes that it is important to give back to your alma mater by volunteering to share your experiences and helping to shape the next generation of health care professionals. “I would definitely encourage all alumni to be involved with the School in some way, whether it is serving as a preceptor or serving in another teaching capacity,” said Misquitta. She is able to share her expertise in managed care. “I have a vested interest in ensuring pharmacy students come out of school understanding managed care, even if they don’t become managed care pharmacists,” explains Misquitta. “Any pharmacist who processes a claim through a patient’s insurance should understand how much consideration has gone into the pharmacy benefit. The pharmacists in the community are often the ones explaining everything to the patient.”

Misquitta explains that it was her aunt who inspired her to pursue a career in pharmacy. She shares, “I have an aunt who is a pharmacist in Oregon. When I was in college I think I changed my major three times. I didn’t know what I wanted to do. Then one day when I was visiting my aunt, she invited me to come to work with her. She knew so much and was a tremendous resource to her community. Since I liked science and working with people I decided that pharmacy would be a great profession.”

Reflecting on her time at Pacific she is grateful for both the education she received and the connections she made. She said, “Every course I took helped me prepare for a career in pharmacy. It was also a great place to meet peers with whom I’d be working for years to come. I still run into my classmates. Pharmacy is a small world.” Given the close-knit community she advises current students to apply themselves and demonstrate professionalism during their rotations. “Study hard, work hard and always do your best work,” said Misquitta. “Pharmacists remember how well students do on rotations and word travels fast in pharmacy.” She adds, “I wouldn’t be in my current position if I hadn’t made a good impression on my former preceptor or current boss.”

Misquitta is currently the vice president of clinical pharmacy solutions at Health Net Pharmaceutical Services. “When I graduated from Pacific I never envisioned myself as a managed care pharmacist,” shares Misquitta. “I completed a pharmacy practice residency and started off working as a clinical pharmacist in the hospital setting. After about three years, one of my former residency preceptors contacted me to see if I knew anybody interested in a job in managed care. After a few minutes of consideration I decided that I would be interested. Over the years I’ve learned a great deal about how to manage pharmacy costs and improve patient health from a population-based perspective. Some of my most interesting opportunities have been leading software development, serving on the National Committee for Quality Assurance pharmacy expert panel and developing clinical programs.”

Through the California Society of Health-System Pharmacists she serves as a board member of her local chapter and chair of the continuing education committee. By being involved in professional organizations she is able to keep a finger on the pulse of changes in health care. She views these changes as an opportunity. She believes, “With a shortage of primary care providers and an influx of newly insured patients, pharmacists have a golden opportunity to help shape the future and push the profession to the next level.”