Sanderson Lecture at University of the Pacific Featuring Bennet Omalu, MD

On March 1, 2017, the Department of Physical Therapy presented the Sanderson Lecture at University of the Pacific featuring keynote speaker Bennet Omalu, MD, MBA, MPH, CPE, DABP-AP, CP, FP, NP. The event was sponsored by Dignity Health – St. Joseph’s Medical Center, Pacific Arts and Lectures, the School of International Studies, College of the Pacific, Pacific Athletics, the Thomas J. Long School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences and the Chan Family Endowment for Physical Therapy.

Born in 1968 in war-torn Nigeria, Dr. Omalu’s family were refugees. Despite suffering from malnutrition in his childhood, he went on to attend medical school at the age of 15 and became a physician by age 21. He first came to the United States in 1994 to complete an epidemiology fellowship at University of Washington. American football would alter the course of his career and impact his life in dramatic ways.

“I didn’t understand football,” said Dr. Omalu. “I did not know what a quarterback was.” He is credited as the first doctor to diagnose chronic brain damage in NFL athletes. In 2002, while working for the Allegheny County Coroner’s Office in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania he discovered what would later become known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in the brain of former Pittsburgh Steelers offensive lineman Mike “Iron Mike” Webster. The former athlete died at age 50 after years of suffering from dementia, amnesia, depression and other ailments.

According to Harvard Medical School, CTE is a neurodegenerative disease believed to result from repetitive brain trauma, including repetitive concussions or subconcussive blows to the head. At this time, a CTE diagnosis can only by confirmed by autopsy and all confirmed cases have had a history of repetitive brain trauma. While the total number of athletes affected by CTE is unknown, the Boston University CTE Center found evidence of CTE in the brain tissue 90 of 94 former NFL athletes.

When Dr. Omalu’s findings first published, they were dismissed by many of his peers and met with fierce resistance from the NFL, who attempted to have his published papers retracted. “I was called a voodoo doctor,” Omalu said. Dr. Omalu’s story was chronicled in Concussion, by Jeanne Marie Laskas, and a film by the same name starring Will Smith.

In his address at Pacific, Dr. Omalu stressed the dangers of children participating in contact sports, emphasizing that each head injury could cause irreversible brain damage. “In the past year, so many science papers have been published indicating that after one season of football, your child’s brain is permanently damaged — just after one season,” Omalu said.

According to Ann C. McKee, MD in the paper entitled “Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy in Athletes: Progressive Tauopathy following Repetitive Head Injury,” athletes in a wide range of sports are at risk for developing CTE: “Repetitive closed head injury occurs in a wide variety of contact sports, including football, boxing, wrestling, rugby, hockey, lacrosse, soccer, and skiing. Furthermore, in collision sports such as football and boxing, players may experience thousands of subconcussive hits over the course of a single season.”

Dr. Omalu’s message resonated with doctor of physical therapy student (DPT) Amanda Whalen ’17. “We don’t let our children smoke or drink alcohol, but we encourage them to play a game that could cause brain damage,” Whalen said.

Fellow DPT student Vien Vu ’17, CSCS was inspired by Dr. Omalu’s perseverance in the face of adversity. Vu shares, “His story was a story of grit. No matter how many successes and setbacks he had, he did not pause for a second. It’s important for everyone to remember to keep going even if they have failed and also to keep going if they are handed an award. This is especially important in research and health care.”

The lecture was a testament to the legacy of another pioneering physician — George H. Sanderson, MD. Dr. Sanderson was the first orthopedic surgeon in Stockton and he also served as the university physician at Pacific’s Student Health Program from 1926 to 1969. He was regarded by his colleagues as an energetic and innovative participant in the growth of orthopedics. He practiced at San Joaquin General Hospital (SJGH) and St. Joseph’s Medical Center.

In 1976, Dr. Sanderson’s colleagues at the Stockton Orthopedic Medical Group, Inc. established a fund for a lecture series to honor his 50 years of service to the community. In 2012, Dr. Sanderson’s daughter, Jean Sanderson; Joseph B. Serra, MD; Christine R. Wilson, PhD, PT; and Sister Abby Newton, vice president of the St. Joseph’s Foundation, were instrumental in bringing the Sanderson Lecture to University of the Pacific.

Throughout its history, the Sanderson Lecture has brought prominent speakers to Stockton to address current health care topics and present on areas of emerging practice related to physical therapy. “The lecturers at the Sanderson Lecture bring to light the changes and advancements that are happening right now in our field,” Whalen said. “As students, we are expected to have the freshest perspective and be up to date with the new information out there. These lecturers, especially one as large as Dr. Omalu, are not available to most practicing clinicians without the Sanderson lecture.”

Echoing this sentiment, Cathy Peterson, PT, EdD, professor of physical therapy, shares, “Dr. Omalu’s talk was inspiring, educational and entertaining. He represents so much that we hope to foster in our students: courage, tenacity, conviction, integrity and compassion. As we strive to empower and equip our students to become clinicians who advocate for optimal health, wellness and performance of all members of society, Dr. Omalu’s message was a perfect fit.”

 

Research Study Finds the Type of Sugar Consumed Makes a Difference

Dr. Rahimian and Shaligram in the lab.

 

“We should consider the type of sugar we are consuming, because different sugars behave differently in our body,” said Roshanak Rahimian, PharmD, MSc, PhD, professor of physiology and pharmacology. Dr. Rahimian, along with Sonali Shaligram ’17 and Farjana Akther ’19, collaborated on a study with researchers from University of Barcelona. “Our goal was to investigate the molecular mechanisms underlying the metabolic and vascular effects of these simple sugars and to determine whether these effects are exclusively related to increased calorie consumption or the type of sugar,” Dr. Rahimian explains.

The results of the study were published in the prestigious American Journal of Physiology – Heart and Circulatory Physiology, in the February 2017 issue. The article entitled “Type of supplemented simple sugar, not merely calorie intake, determines adverse effects on metabolism and aortic function in female rats,” was co-authored by Gemma Sangüesa; Sonali Shaligram; Farjana Akther; Núria Roglans, PharmD; Juan C. Laguna, PhD; Roshanak Rahimian, PharmD, MSc, PhD; and Marta Alegret, PharmD.

“Fructose is a monosaccharide, a simple sugar that is present in many fruits and vegetables,” Dr. Rahimian explains. “Although fructose has the same chemical formula (C6H12O6) as glucose, it differs in its chemical structure.” Shaligram adds, metabolism of fructose also differs from that of glucose. While both are metabolized by the liver, other tissues can uptake glucose. She quotes Robert H. Lustig, MD, professor of pediatrics at University of California, San Francisco, “Up to 80 percent of glucose can be metabolized by other tissues; in comparison 100 percent of fructose is metabolized by the liver.”

Their findings emphasize that the type of sugar consumed makes a difference. “Despite higher caloric intake in glucose-supplemented subjects, fructose caused worse metabolic and vascular responses,” Dr. Rahimian said. Although both sugar-fed groups consumed more calories than the control group, the total calorie intake of the glucose-fed subjects was higher than that of fructose. Also, despite this difference, only the fructose group exhibited a significant increase in final body weight. In addition, the fructose group showed more vascular and liver damages than those of glucose-fed group.

While studies have been done comparing glucose and fructose, the unique aspect of this study is the focus on investigating how specific genes are altered when the two sugars are metabolized. Dr. Rahimian adds, “Our collaborators at University of Barcelona had already published several articles on the adverse effect of fructose, but further studies should be done on the relative effects of glucose and fructose on vascular reactivity and the underlying mechanisms involved.”

Dr. Rahimian shares what drives her and her team to pursue this research: “Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the number one cause of death worldwide. Macro and micro-vascular complications can lead to CVD. Unhealthy diet is one common factor responsible for developing obesity and CVD. The consumption of sugar sweetened beverages (SSB) are increasing very rapidly. Therefore, we were very interested in the topic of investigating different types of sugars and their effects on metabolic and vascular function.”

As stated in the article, “At present, there is an intense debate in the scientific community about whether the adverse cardiovascular and metabolic effects of SSB are mostly attributable to specific effects of the simple sugar used as sweeteners or are merely the consequence of the increase in caloric intake and weight gain in the population consuming large quantities of SSB.”

The study gave Pacific students the opportunity to be involved in the various stages of the research project, from planning to publishing. “The graduate students were fully involved in analyzing the data and giving intellectual input over the course of the study,” Dr. Rahimian shares. “We are so proud of this work. It provided my group the opportunity to experience an outstanding collaboration with the University of Barcelona group. We got a chance to work closely with each other. It is very rewarding to share research and knowledge with other groups.”

 

Something for Everyone at CSM 2017

To see cutting-edge technology, hear world-class speakers, meet alumni and connect with future colleagues, physical therapists should plan on attending the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) Combined Sections Meeting (CSM). On February 15-18, 2017, over 14,000 health care professionals and students converged in San Antonio, Texas, for the 2017 meeting. This year’s conference hosted over 480 exhibitors and 300 sessions. Pacific physical therapy (PT) faculty, doctor of physical therapy (DPT) students and alumni were among the presenters.

Todd Davenport, PT, DPT, MPH, OCS, associate professor of physical therapy, co-presented the session entitled “Evolution or Revolution? Physical Therapists in Prevention and Population Health.” Co-presented by Mike Eisenhart, PT and Christopher Hinze, PT, DPT the session proposed strategies for the role that physical therapists can play in implementing population health strategies.

Carl L. Fairburn III ’10, PT, DPT, assistant professor of physical therapy; Cathy Peterson, PT, EdD, professor of physical therapy; Anna Barrett ’16, PT, DPT and Patrick Cawneen ’16, DPT, presented “DIY Mid-fidelity Simulation: It Takes Less Space, Less Money and More Time Than You Think! Educational Platform Presentation.”

Justin Scola ’17, along with co-authors Panthjit Khosa ’17 and Dr. Davenport, presented the poster entitled “Initial Impact of Physical Therapy Hashtags on Twitter: A Feasibility Study and Descriptive Analysis.”

Rebecca Van Klaveren ’17 presented the podium talk entitled “Gender Distribution of Authors in the Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy, 2010-2014,” co-authored by Dr. Fairburn and Dr. Davenport.

 

Q&A with the DPT Class of 2017

What was something at the conference you were amazed or inspired by?

Alycia Clark ’17: “Attending CSM inspired my desire to pursue the newly developing specialty in physical therapy for oncology patients.”

Michael Ellis ’17: “The amount of people there who were actively engaged in bettering their profession in the pursuit of helping patients.”

Brendan Heary ’17: “The incredible number of physical therapists from all around the country, all gathered together for this one event.”

Hailey Kopps ’17: “I was inspired by the quality of current research, variety of content and level of passion I was surrounded by throughout our visit to CSM. I was overwhelmed by the sense of community and dedication to professional growth. I stand alongside 14,000 others with something to offer the field of movement science.”

Audrey Mott ’17: “The number of PT students in attendance and the passion for healing of all of the speakers.”

Helen Shepard ’17: “All of the new information presented in lectures about current research in our field.”

Megan Stiller ’17: “I was amazed at how many vendors and exhibitors were in the exhibit hall.”

Nina Zakharia ’17: “Getting to see how passionate everyone is about our awesome profession made it really fun.”

Describe a memorable interaction you had during the conference:

Ellis: “I enjoyed watching a classmate of mine interact with people during his poster presentation.”

Kopps: “I talked with a Pacific alumnus and learned about how integral experiences like this are in his practice, several years post-graduation.”

Mott: “Jessica Renzi from North Carolina. She is a travel PT who started a company with her husband to mentor new PT grads interested in travel PT. Awesome to talk to her and learn the ins and outs of traveling.”

Scola: “Speaking with many people involved with Twitter and PT advocacy.”

Stiller: “I talked to a Team Movement for Life staff member at a meet-and-greet event and I was able to have an extended conversion with her about the company.”

Max Yeagley ’17: “I met with a friend’s upcoming clinical instructor named Rosalie, who works at Lodi Memorial. She was very down-to-earth, approachable and very encouraging to us about starting our clinical rotations.”

Zakharia: “I met a PT from Texas who designed an electronic medical record. He was funny, but insightful.”

Did you connect with any alumni or former faculty?

Clark: “I met an alumna of the DPT program who now works at Kaiser Permanente in Santa Clara. She was incredibly friendly and shared with me about her job.”

Jessica Tom ’17: “Yes, it was inspiring to hear about where they all are in their careers and what helped get them to where they are.”

Zakharia: “I connected very easily with Margaret from the class of 1994!”

By: Anne Marie H. Bergthold

Making the Most of Career Development

deans_letter_pt-showcase-2016Meeting a prospective employer for the first time can be a nerve-racking experience. There is the pressure to make a good first impression, give eloquent answers and ask thoughtful questions. One of the ways that Pacific prepares students for the career opportunities that lay ahead is through events where they can practice navigating interactions with employers.

On November 14, 2016, the University’s Career Resource Center hosted an etiquette dinner. At the event, students had the opportunity to practice networking and dining in a professional setting. The Pacific Speech-Language Pathology Alumni Association sponsored the 20 students undergraduate and graduate students who attended this annual event.

“I would definitely recommend this to future students because it has made me more comfortable dining at nice restaurants and it was a valuable experience if I go to an interview dinner,” said speech-language pathology (SLP) student Ashley Cearley ’17. Her classmate, Monica Berg ’17, agrees, “It was great to receive information about dining in a business setting and note what employers were looking for.” Berg connected with Jillian Hall ’13, MS, CCC-SLP, who is a speech-language pathologist for Twin Rivers Unified School District. “We spoke about her job experience, other colleges and the California Speech-Language-Hearing Association,” Berg said.

SLP student Connie Mach ’17 also connected with a speech-language pathologist. She shares, “She was very friendly and shared her experiences working as a speech-language pathologist in a variety of settings, including early intervention in the homes, school sites and in the hospitals.” Mach adds, “I think it was a great opportunity to practice networking skills and meet potential employers. I would recommend bringing business cards and thinking of questions to ask the employers prior to the event.”

Doctor of physical therapy (DPT) student Samantha Moore ’17 practiced her networking skills. “I appreciated the pointers that were provided that evening about how to better conduct myself,” Moore said. “I found this beneficial in how to interact with other professionals including potential employers.”

Throughout the year students have opportunities to attend events focused on career development. “We highly encourage students to start attending career events and start devising a career development plan as early as their first year in the program,” said Erica Ruiz ’12, whose role at the School includes assisting students with career development.

In November Adriana Joma ’17 attended the Speech-Language Pathology Employer Showcase. “This experience allowed me to see what positions are currently available in my area and specific job skills required or recommended for these positions,” Joma said. Both Kate O’Donnell ’17 and Kasimira Clark ’17 used Showcase as an opportunity to learn more about the corporate culture of local companies. O’Donnell explains, “The companies provided great information and advice for determining the best ‘fit’ for a career.” Clark shares, “The exhibitors gave great advice and explained what things we should look out for and helped narrow my focus.”

Sarah Petry ’18 found that the practice of meeting with employers gave her confidence. She shares, “I grew more comfortable at each table and less overwhelmed. By the last table I felt more myself and able to better make a connection.” DPT student Jacob “Jake” Fredrickson ’18 had a similar experience at the Physical Therapy Employer Showcase. He said, “I got to practice having a professional conversation in a real employer interaction and that was very helpful!”

For Briana Bernard ’17 the benefits of attending Showcase were twofold. “Clinicians gave insight to what they are looking for in therapists and what kind of [interview] questions they ask,” Bernard said. “Also, it was a good experience of putting myself out there in a professional setting and feeling more confident.”

Dickson Chang ’18 and Briana Valenzuela ’18 emphasize the power of a good first impression. Chang shares, “It helped me work on being personable to potential employers.” Valenzuela said, “I felt like practicing introducing myself to everyone and trying to create a good first impression was a great experience.”

Alicia (Lueth) Wortman ’18 found Showcase to be an encouraging experience. She shares, “It was nice to have a ‘practice’ environment in which to have purposeful, but also personal, conversations. It was encouraging to know that these employers see qualities in us which they’d like to hire.” Patrick Amigable ’18 echoes her sentiment. He said, “I was able to practice being an active listener and inquire in a way that expressed my potential as a future employee.”

 

11th Annual Tiger Dash Brings the Community Together

deans-letter-pt-tiger-dash-03On a brisk Saturday in October during Pacific Homecoming, 179 runners lined up at the starting line of the 11th annual Tiger Dash 5K and Half Mile Cub Run. Among the runners were a number of students from local schools. “This year our office was awarded a community grant through Kaiser Permanente to implement running programs at our afterschool sites,” said Nora Hana, MA Ed, afterschool programs coordinator for San Joaquin County Office of Education (SJCOE). “The culminating event of the running club was to run a 5K. Since we have an ongoing partnership with Pacific’s physical therapy department I reached out to Dr. Todd Davenport to see if we could participate in the Tiger Dash. It was a perfect event for us since the students in our afterschool program were familiar with the physical therapy students at Pacific.” Dr. Davenport commented, “What a fantastic way to kick off the second decade of the Tiger Dash and Cub Run, to continue building bridges between our campus and our community.”

The expanded partnership between the Department of Physical Therapy and SJCOE was based on their collaboration on another project, the Healthy Children program, which is sponsored by the Kaiser Permanente Northern California Community Benefit Fund. The program allows physical therapy students to participate in afterschool programs to teach local students about backpack safety and the importance of a healthy diet.

“I saw many of our afterschool students recognize the Pacific physical therapy students that came to their schools,” Hana said. “Many of the students that participated in the run have never been to a college campus before so this was a very rewarding and unique opportunity for them.” She explains, “It is important for these students because many of them will be the first in their families to consider attending a college. We always want to give our students opportunities to learn from positive role models that are in their communities and to expose them to higher learning opportunities. This expands their horizons and gives them a look at what opportunities are out there for them. Also, having parents bring their children to the campus helps families experience the different possibilities together.”

Doctor of physical therapy (DPT) student Megan Stiller ’17 served as Tiger Dash’s event chief executive officer. She shares that the most memorable part of the event for her personally was the interactions she had with students from the afterschool program. Stiller is passionate about addressing the growing epidemic of childhood obesity, she sees a natural fit between this goal and Tiger Dash. “I feel strongly about outreach and prevention,” Stiller said. “We really try to instill in the kids the things that they can do.”

The Pacific 5K Tiger Dash and Half Mile Cub Run serves as a fundraiser for the DPT Class of 2017. The majority of the funds raised will be used to help students with travel expenses and conference fees associated with attending the national physical therapy conference, American Physical Therapy Association’s annual Combined Sections Meeting (CSM). In addition to networking opportunities, CSM offers physical therapy students and practicing physical therapists access to the latest developments in their dynamic profession. Stiller elaborates, “We can find out the most up-to-date information, learn about current products available, policy changes, new legislation and changes to billing.” Stiller explains that staying up-to-date with changes in the profession allows physical therapists to give their patients the best possible care.

A portion of the funds raised will go toward the Physical Therapy Visionary Endowment, which also supports students traveling to CSM. The purpose of the Physical Therapy Visionary Endowment is to help relieve the pressure of raising funds during the semester, thus allowing the DPT students to focus on their studies. Once the fund reaches $50,000 it will be matched by the Powell Match.

Attending CSM is a key opportunity for professional growth and the process of organizing Tiger Dash is as well. Stiller elaborates, “You use the same skill set you would use in the clinic. Tiger Dash is heavily student initiated, that’s how it first began and it is definitely student run. The whole class gets involved.” The DPT students reached out to community partners to sponsor the event. Major sponsors for the 2016 event were Lodi Physical Therapy, Pine Street Physical Therapy, Golden Bear Physical and Occupational Therapy, Homer’s Barbershop, Team Movement for Life (Central Valley Physical Therapy and Delta Physical Therapy) and Fleet Feet.

“I hope it continues to be a homecoming tradition,” shares Stiller. Echoing her enthusiasm, Hana expressed, “We are looking forward to next year. We are already gearing up for it.”

“Mark your calendars to come join us.” Dr. Davenport said. “The 12th Annual Tiger Dash is scheduled for Saturday, October 7, 2017!”

 

PharmD Student Leaders Share Study Tips: Who They Are and What They Recommend

Do you ever feel overwhelmed by the amount of information you need to understand and remember for an upcoming exam? Having a good study strategy can help you tackle the mountain of information. We asked several student leaders to share with us how they study and what techniques they would recommend.

What is your #1 study tip?

Jamie Legaspi ’18: “Do what works best for you! If it means studying with a group, find that group and make the most of it!”

Andy Szeto ’18: “Break up the material and revisit it several times. I feel that the more you expose yourself to lectures and notes, the more the content sticks. Often students look at a professor’s lecture slides once and get discouraged that they can’t understand it. The point of school is to learn things that you don’t already know so it is perfectly natural to not understand class material right away. Each time you study, ensure you understand the overarching idea before you dive in. This will help you ‘connect the dots.’ Rho Chi also provides tutors who can help you with course material.”

Michaela Vachuska ’18: “When it comes to learning new material, I like to ‘mix it up.’ Study methods that are highly effective for one class might not be effective for others. By quizzing myself often and talking to my friends about the material, I am able to evaluate how effectively I am learning and adjust my habits as necessary.”

Milana Vachuska ’18: “I feel most prepared and confident in class when I review the lecture slides the previous night. In the afternoons, I try my best to review the lectures that took place earlier that day. This method is definitely a big time commitment, but I’ve found that I do best on exams when I approach the material this way. Office hours are the best way to get your questions answered. There is only so much explanation a professor can give during class and sometimes it takes just a few minutes with them to solidify a concept.”

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Legaspi serves as academic affairs coordinator for Phi Delta Chi. She shares, “They have a strong passion for leadership and brotherhood. I also felt very comfortable around them and found a family in them.” She adds, “My experience here at Pacific would not have been the same if it weren’t for the people I have met and the friends I have made.”

Legaspi is also a project manager for Alternative and Integrative Medicine (AIMRx). “I was interested in the type of education they did and all of the events they put on,” explains Legaspi. She is also involved in the Medicare Part D Outreach Program. “As I learned more about the program, I realized how much it interested me and how much of an impact I could make on peoples’ lives.”

Szeto is originally from Sacramento and it was the recommendation of alumni that led him to choose Pacific’s accelerated doctor of pharmacy (PharmD) program. He explains, “I liked the idea of being able to complete a typical four-year PharmD degree in only three years. Being from the area, I personally knew several Pacific alumni and they only had positives things to say about the School, students and faculty.” He adds, “Being able to meet so many like-minded peers has been the most humbling experience. I know that even after I leave Pacific I’ll have life-long friends to rely on.”

Szeto serves as secretary of the Industry Pharmacists Organization (IPhO). “I chose to run for the executive board of IPhO to showcase myself as an advocate for industry pharmacy and to facilitate networking with industry professionals,” said Szeto. “Industry pharmacy is a relatively nontraditional field of practice for pharmacists that gained popularity in the past several years. IPhO-Pacific was the first IPhO chapter on the West Coast, so I wanted to be at the forefront of industry and innovation in California.”

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He is also a member of the Rho Chi Honor Society. “My foremost attraction to Rho Chi was the opportunity to be a peer tutor and mentor to first year students,” said Szeto.” The first year of pharmacy school can be demanding on new students and Rho Chi makes available second year students to help coach and steer their study habits and time management to achieve success.”

It was strong recommendations from alumni that brought Michaela Vachuska to Pacific. She describes her first visit to the campus, “I loved the warm atmosphere and the faculty and students spoke very highly of the program. One of my mentors is a Pacific Alumnus and he encouraged me to apply.” She adds, “The faculty at Pacific have exceeded my highest expectations. They are extremely supportive and understanding. It has been amazing to have them as resources.”

Michaela Vachuska explains what led her to pursue the role of president of the Student College of Clinical Pharmacy (SCCP), “SCCP just graduated from a committee to an organization and I was excited about the prospect of being at the forefront of this transition. I am passionate about clinical pharmacy, so it was a perfect fit.”

Milana Vachuska serves as president of Pacific’s chapter of California Society of Health-System Pharmacists (CSHP-Pacific) and scribe of the Medicare Outreach Logistics Committee. “During my first semester here I noticed that CSHP-Pacific hosted a high number of quality events,” said Milana Vachuska. “I wanted to provide those opportunities for my fellow students.”

In July, Milana Vachuska participated in the Pharmacy Scholarship Ceremony. She shares, “The Scholarship Ceremony reception was a meaningful highlight of my Pacific experience. At the reception students were given the opportunity to have dinner with the donors of their respective scholarships. This event made me feel as though I could someday make a difference in a student’s life and it elucidated the strength of the Pacific alumni network.”

For more tips on how to make the most of your Pacific experience read 8 Things You Should Do During Your First Semester at Pacific.

 

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 .

 

 

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.

 

 

Pharmacy Scholarship Recipients Q&A

Agbongpolo with Dean Phillip Oppenheimer and Kourtney Sherman '12, PharmD.
Agbongpolo with Dean Phillip Oppenheimer and Kourtney Sherman ’12, PharmD.

Each year the School’s Scholarship Ceremony brings into focus the generosity of the donors who support our pharmacy students. The history of how each scholarship was established is as diverse as the abilities and aspirations of the recipients. What all the recipients have in common is the feeling of overwhelming gratitude that comes with knowing that there are individuals and organizations who support them. Watch a video of students demonstrating the impact of their benefactor’s support here.

Samuel Agbonkpolo ’18 was awarded the National Association of Chain Drug Stores Foundation Pharmacy Partners Scholarship, the Sherman Family Scholarship and the Walgreens Diversity Scholarship. He shares, “When you are on this road to becoming a pharmacist sometimes you can feel like you are on your own, just me and these books. It’s nice to know there are people out there who support you.”

Cindy (Mei Xian) Hsieh ’17 was awarded the Commitment to Global Health Scholarship, the Robert M. Long Endowed Scholarship and the Thomas J. Long Foundation Scholarship. She echoes Agbonkpolo’s sentiments. “It gives me confidence and pride knowing that there are professionals rooting for my success and applauding me for the goals I am striving for,” said Hsieh. “Thank you for your generosity.”

Larsen with Dean Oppenheimer and John Livesey, PhD, professor of physiology and pharmacology and chair.
Larsen with Dean Oppenheimer and John Livesey, PhD, professor of physiology and pharmacology and chair.

Cory Larsen ’17 was awarded the Richard and Marilynn Balch Endowed Scholarship, the Camouflage to White Coat Scholarship, the Jen-Ling Hsieh Scholarship and the Thomas J. Long Foundation Scholarship. He describes his academic career as a journey. “It’s good to know that people who have gone on the road before me are looking out for people who are still going down the path,” said Larsen. “Having that support, especially from the alumni, inspires me to help future generations.”

Scholarships open up opportunities that students might not otherwise have been able to pursue. Mark Miller ’17 was awarded the Norm Kobayashi Travel Award and the Pacific Pharmacy Alumni Association Travel Award. “Thank you to all the donors,” said Miller. “This scholarship is going to help me get to a conference that will help me in my job search in the future.”

From left to right: Dean Oppenheimer, Lucille Gould, Karen Gould, Milana Vachuska, Johnny Hsia and Michaela Vachuska at the Pharmacy Scholarship Ceremony.
From left to right: Dean Oppenheimer, Lucille Gould, Karen Gould, Milana Vachuska, Johnny Hsia and Michaela Vachuska at the Pharmacy Scholarship Ceremony.

Michaela Vachuska ’18 was awarded the Chan Family Endowed Scholarship and the Jay Patrick Gould Memorial Scholarship. She has learned from personal experience that pursuing a doctor of pharmacy degree requires drive and determination. She shares, “While the challenge is rewarding, pharmacy school is a highly taxing experience and it is amazing to know that there are people who want to support students in their pursuit to become pharmacists. It is incredibly generous and I can’t thank them enough.”

Milana Vachuska ’18 was awarded the Chan Family Endowed Scholarship, the Jay Patrick Gould Memorial Scholarship and the Thomas J. and Muriel Long Scholarship. When asked what it means to her to know that there are individuals who offer their support she said, “It means the world. It’s the main reason I chose to come to Pacific. Our alumni really care about the School. You see a lot of loyalty in preceptors, in pharmacy managers, in professors and it’s really nice to know that I always have somewhere to go if I need advice.”

 

What aspects of this scholarship resonated with you personally?

Agbonkpolo: “The description said it was for African-Americans and there are a limited number [at the School], so I applied because I wanted to show that we are here and we do have a presence on campus. Knowing that there were people out there who supported African-Americans made me want to apply.”

Hsieh: “I’m Chinese-American and I am very proud of my heritage and that started really early on. That got me looking at other cultures as well. This scholarship really resonated with me because it combines my passion outside of pharmacy, along with my future profession, as well an emphasis on cultural awareness and competency in the pharmacy setting.”

Miller: “I wanted to be able to attend the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists conference in November to share the data that I have generated and make connections with other students and also potential employers. A lot of times these conferences will have recruiters from the top pharmaceutical companies and it’s a great place to connect with people.”

Larsen: “Being a veteran with a family, I feel like the scholarship was pretty much created for me.”

Michaela Vachuska: “While I knew a lot of students were applying, I figured it wouldn’t hurt to tell the donors my story.  The faculty were all incredibly supportive and made the process as easy as possible for the students, which was also really helpful!”

Milana Vachuska: “I live in the Chan Family Hall, so I thought that it would be appropriate. I met all the qualifications […]. You never know until you try.”

 

How would your professors and peers describe you?

Agbonkpolo: “Confident, charismatic and determined.”

Hsieh: “Ambitious, enthusiastic and well-rounded.”

Miller: “Efficient, pragmatic and detail-oriented.”

Larsen: “Focused, gregarious and adaptable.”

Michaela Vachuska: “Hard-working, genuine and charismatic.”

Milana Vachuska: “Perseverant, confident and empathetic.”

 

What are the characteristics of a successful pharmacist?

Agbonkpolo: “Active listener, selfless and a lifelong learner.”

Hsieh: “Knowledgeable, reliable and professional.”

Miller: “Hard working and creative. Someone who can work well with teams. It seems counterintuitive that a scientist would have to be charismatic, but I think it is extremely important to know how to deal with people.”

Larsen: “Someone who is charismatic. Whether a pharmacist is talking to a patient or talking to a doctor, the pharmacist needs to be able to explain things to them so they understand and trust what the pharmacist is telling them. Charisma is an underrated attribute that a pharmacist needs to have.”

Michaela Vachuska: “Although I have a lot to learn, what I have taken from my experiences is that you have to be passionate about making a difference in peoples’ lives in order to be a great pharmacist in the long term. “

Milana Vachuska: “A successful pharmacist admits that they don’t know everything. As humans, or as any health care professional, we are not expected to know everything. I think the important thing is to understand the people around us and know where to look for the answer.”

There are many ways to make a transformative, tax-deductible gift to the School. You can make a gift online, by mail or over the phone by contacting Jen Flora at 209.946.2303.

 

ACCP Clinical Pharmacy Challenge Tests Knowledge and Teamwork

SCCP_winningteamgroupphotoImagine that you only have seconds to answer the following question: Which of the following medications used for rapid sequence intubation can inhibit cortisol synthesis? a) Etomidate b) Ketamine c) Propofol or d) Succinylcholine. This is the type of question that is asked at the American College of Clinical Pharmacy (ACCP) Clinical Pharmacy Challenge, which is a national pharmacy student team competition.

Across the country universities hold local competitions to identify their strongest competitors. The Student College of Clinical Pharmacy hosted the competition at Pacific and 11 three-member teams competed. Pacific will be represented at the national level by Dilraj Sohal ’17, Claire Kim ’17 and Cindy Hsieh ’17.

Eligible teams compete in up to four online rounds. The top eight teams advance to the live quarterfinal competitions, which will take place at the ACCP Annual Meeting in Hollywood, Florida, October 22-24, 2016. The competition has three sections. The trivia/lightning round consists of 15 true-false questions. The questions cover the subjects of pharmacology, pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics, pharmacogenomics, biostatistics and health outcomes. The second segment is a clinical case and participants answer five questions after reviewing the clinical case vignette. In the final portion of the competition, students answer questions covering a wide range of topics that relate to clinical pharmacy. The format of the final portion is similar to Jeopardy and teams are asked questions that belong to five specific categories. These five categories are selected from a larger group of topics ranging from endocrinology to vaccinations.

For pharmacy students the competition is a unique and interactive way to assess their knowledge. “I saw it as an opportunity to really learn and challenge myself as a pharmacy student, so I took the opportunity and ran with it,” said Hsieh. “I also liked the idea of exploring different aspects of pharmacy.” She elaborates that the competition is a good way to “see if clinical pharmacy is something you love doing.” Sohal agrees, “It helps you test the material you learn in class and see if you can actually use reasoning to apply the knowledge to situations that may arise. I am hoping for a career in clinical pharmacy and figured this would be a great way to test my knowledge.” William A. Kehoe, MA, PharmD, FCCP, BCPS, department chair of the Department of Pharmacy Practice and professor of pharmacy practice and psychology adds, “This competition requires high level pharmacotherapy knowledge. I think the preparation is really important and will help them in patient care settings.”

Sohal explains that the fast paced environment forces you to rely on your instincts. She adds that the way that the competition is structured teaches you to trust your teammates as you work collaboratively. Hsieh adds, “I think that working in a team helps you realize your strengths and weaknesses. When you go into the clinical field you are in essence working as a team.” Dr. Kehoe agrees, “These kinds of opportunities give them a chance to solve problems by working together.” He explains that today’s health care professionals work in teams with each individual contributing their unique skill set.

“Without a doubt, the health care world involves communicating with many different health care providers, whether it be nurses, doctors, physicians or other pharmacists,” said Sohal. “Working as a team in a competition demonstrates the importance of being able to communicate with people who may think and do things differently. It allows you to be able to listen to others while also giving you the confidence to apply your own knowledge in order to make the best clinical decision.”

As the competition advances the difficulty and complexity of the questions increases. Dr. Kehoe says, “You would not believe the level and depth of the questions they will face in the next few rounds.” In 2011, Pacific’s team advanced to the quarterfinal round and was among the top eight teams in the country. Dr. Kehoe remembers with pride, “What I recall most was walking around and hearing so many ACCP members talking about the strength of the Pacific team.”

Hsieh believes that one of the factors that contributed to the success of her team was their mentality going into the competition. She elaborates, “We went into it with a mindset that we wanted to win.” As a team they spent time preparing by studying, doing research and taking practice tests. Both Sohal and Hsieh encourage students to participate in the future. Sohal exclaimed, “Definitely something to try out with some friends!”

 

 

Meet the 2016-17 ASP Board Members

American Pharmacists Association Academy of Student Pharmacists Board from left, Wesley Sweis, Brandi Tacdol, Bianca Khishaveh, Jason Yudiono, Emily Highsmith, Stephanie Hong, Joshua Lin
American Pharmacists Association Academy of Student Pharmacists Board from left, Wesley Sweis, Brandi Tacdol, Bianca Khishaveh, Jason Yudiono, Emily Highsmith, Stephanie Hong, Joshua Lin

The 2016-17 American Pharmacists Association-Academy of Student Pharmacists (APhA-ASP) executive board has been selected and the leadership baton has been passed. ASP acts as the student body government, which serves as an umbrella organization that oversees all of the pharmacy-related student groups on campus. The 2016-17 ASP president Jason Yudiono ’18 describes the ASP board as “the collective voice of the student body.” Wesley Sweis ’18, vice president of student affairs adds, “The ASP board is committed to the students. We strive for academic excellence, social and community involvement, as well as innovation.”

“My admiration for the previous board is what led me to being a member of ASP board,” said Stephanie Hong ’18, vice president of communications. She admired their enthusiasm and all that they were able to accomplish during their term. Bianca Khishaveh ’18, vice president of membership and finance, was also inspired by the leadership of previous board members. She shares, “During my first few days at Pacific the previous ASP board spoke to us during orientation. Experiencing the positive energy and impact that they had on us I knew that I too wanted to be a role model to the incoming freshmen and my fellow classmates.”

For Emily Highsmith ’18, vice president of professional affairs, the motivation for pursuing this leadership position was to get a deeper understanding of the pharmacy profession and to have the opportunity to support her fellow classmates. She said, “I wanted to be a member of the ASP board because I wanted an opportunity to make a broad impact with my leadership. I also view ASP as an opportunity to network with local practicing pharmacists and for me to get a feel for the direction pharmacy is headed.”

According to Highsmith, “The goals of our ASP board are to serve and represent the student body, provide patient care opportunities and to spark excitement about the future of pharmacy.” Highsmith shares that one of the goals of the 2016-17 board is to implement a project that will serve veterans. “Another goal of ours is to promote inter-professional collaboration through our health fairs,” said Brandi Tacdol ’18, vice president of legislative affairs. Joshua Lin ’18, vice president of correspondence, wants to enrich the student experience by tapping into the potential of the pre-pharmacy student body. He elaborates, “Like many of my predecessors, I want to try and further solidify the interaction between the pharmacy and pre-pharmacy students. Both campuses are so physically close, but interaction has always been limited. I want to be someone who builds the bridges and gives them the chance to be involved in pharmacy affairs.”

As they step into these high-profile leadership roles, each student reflects on the traits that they believe characterize a strong leader. Sweis shares, “I think a strong leader must possess organization, patience and the ability to delegate well.” Khishaveh adds, “Strong leaders are honest, accountable, creative and focused.” Tacdol emphasizes the trait of humility. She says, “The traits of a strong leader include someone who is humble, self-motivated and determined.”

In Hong’s opinion the key traits of a leader are charisma and confidence. Yudiono believes that in addition to charisma the essential characteristic is “being able to listen to the people you are leading.” Echoing Yudiono’s sentiment that good communication is a vital component of leadership, Highsmith said, “Strong leaders know when to step up and voice their opinions and when to step back and listen to others’ opinions.” Lin adds, “Above all else a leader needs to be understanding and approachable.”

Yudiono’s advice for those considering leadership roles is to “speak to people that are currently in the leadership position that interests you.” Highsmith recommends making the most of your time by focusing on leadership opportunities in an area that you are passionate about. Lin adds, “Pharmacy school can be hard and academics will always be a primary focus, but if you take the time to step out and fill the shoes of a leader I promise you will not regret the immense rewards you get in return.”

“Leadership will challenge you to work well with others and to communicate efficiently,” said Tacdol. “Joining ASP was the best decision I’ve made so far during my time as a pharmacy student. I’ve pushed myself out of my comfort zone, it has allowed me to grow as an individual and as a leader.”