PT Students Gain a Global Perspective Through Malawi Trip

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To read about the students’ experiences in Malawi in their own words visit their blog



PT Students with a Vision for Giving Back

The doctor of physical therapy Class of 2016 has a vision of forging a lasting legacy through an endowment fund. Dean Phillip R. Oppenheimer, PharmD believes that the Physical Therapy Visionary Endowment of the Class of ’16, ’17, ’18, ’19 and ’20 reflects the culture of philanthropy that has been exhibited by the current classes of PT students. “The physical therapy Class of 2016’s intention to create an endowed travel fund has generated an unprecedented level of excitement and enthusiasm among the students, faculty, staff and alumni,” shares Dean Oppenheimer.

Decades-of-GivingWe will have five years to fundraise $50,000,” explains Susan Webster, Director of Development. “When that amount is reached, it will be matched by the Powell Match program bringing the fund balance to $100,000.” The Powell Match was established by the extraordinary $125 million gift from Robert and Jeannette Powell. A full $85 million of the Powell’s gift is dedicated to matching, dollar for dollar, new endowment gifts of $50,000 or more that support scholarships or enhance the academic experience of our students. Funds from the endowment will be used to assist students with travel expenses so that they may attend national conferences.

The largest conference for the PT profession is the American Physical Therapy Association’s (APTA) annual Combined Sections Meeting (CSM). In 2016 over 11,300 attendees came from across the country to attend the conference, which was held in Anaheim, California. “By definition, CSM is a program designed by all 18 of the APTA’s specialty sections,” explains Teresa Li ’16. “Each section can be considered a unique facet to the PT profession and each section provides programs with the most up-to-date, evidenced-based concepts or treatment techniques relevant to the population of patients or topic they specialize in […]. The truth is, PT cannot truly be broken down into 18 sections when you are treating a patient! When you attend a program from one of these 18 sections at CSM the concepts and techniques discussed can be applicable to a vast majority of patients you see no matter what setting you are in.”

The motto of CSM is “Together we will transform society by optimizing movement to improve the human experience.” Li has taken this motto to heart. She shares, “I believe every physical therapist has a duty to think outside the box to strive to enhance our profession. Together we can truly improve the way people move and thus enhance their day-to-day life. Dr. Todd Davenport once urged us to break down the meaning of the CSM motto and think about how we can actually transform society. He taught us that in order for us to transform society in our profession, we must bring new things to the table by merging other schools of thought and expertise to the PT profession. Dr. Davenport is a stark example of this having recently earned a Master of Public Health from the University of California, Berkeley. He plans to bring his new expertise of public health, along with his broadened social network of public health experts, to the PT field […]. Dr. Davenport is an inspiration to our profession with his forward thinking and incredible work ethic, I hope to one day contribute to the field of PT in a similar way.”

Kyle Clark ’15, DPT believes that a ripple effect is created when students have the opportunity to attend national conferences. He explains, “The fund benefits the physical therapy profession as a whole because it helps send University of the Pacific DPT students to a conference where they are able to learn more about the profession and the newest research being published, which in turn will benefit their future patients.” He adds, “It is important for both students and licensed physical therapists to attend CSM to learn about the new cutting-edge technology, network with other individuals and companies and continue to grow their knowledge in regards to evidence-based practice. It is a great opportunity to learn new things that you can take home with you and immediately use in your practice in order to provide better care for your patients.”

Alumni play a vital role in partnering with students who will soon become their colleagues. Clark shares, “It is important for alumni to give back and support future DPT students because the students are our profession’s future.” This endowment fund was established to support students as they develop into professionals. Naina Batra ’16 explains, “Giving back to the future classes will allow them to focus on completing their professional education.” Webster adds, “The Class of ’16 and Class of ’17 are a special group of students who have recognized a need.” She is excited to see their vision become a legacy.

Contact Susan Webster for more information on how to support this student-led endowment at or 209.946.3116.



Pharmacy Students Partner with School District to Provide Health Education

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

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

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

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

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



Faculty Spotlight: Sachin A. Shah, PharmD

Sachin Shah
Sachin Shah

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Grant Creates Opportunities for Mental Health Outreach

Robert Halliwell
Robert F. Halliwell

Mental health is a key aspect of healthcare and Pacific pharmacy students now have an exciting new opportunity to gain hands-on experience in this area through a community outreach program. The School has been awarded a grant of $15,000 by San Joaquin County Behavioral Health Services to develop a program of educational activities in mental health within the County.

The project entitled “Partnering Pharmacists and those with Lived Experience of Mental Illness to Enhance Recognition, Early Intervention and Care Capacity in the Wellness Center of San Joaquin” will be coordinated by Robert F. Halliwell, PhD Professor of Physiology and Pharmacology. He has been assisted in the process of securing this grant by Edward L. Rogan, PharmD, BCACP Assistant Professor of Pharmacy Practice, who has been a key contributor to the project.

Dr. Halliwell shares the focus of the project, “Our program builds on evidence-based practice that educational activities reduce stigma, improve linkage in healthcare, enhance early recognition and facilitate early intervention in mental illness. Educational activities also improve understanding, confidence, insight and ability to cope in those with mental illness.” In addition, “Interaction between community pharmacists and mental health consumers reduces stigma.”

Pharmacy students who are members of Pacific’s Mental Health Committee will be participating in this outreach program. Dr. Halliwell believes this program is beneficial for students preparing for a career in pharmacy. He said, “It gives them the invaluable, first-hand experience of seeing some of the most complex and common disorders they must help to manage in their careers. It will also reduce the stigma many people, including pharmacy students and practitioners, have of mental illness.”

For Dr. Halliwell this grant recognizes the community outreach already in motion. He explains, “This project builds on some of the educational activities I have developed with the Mental Health Committee to provide educational training for members of the Wellness Center here in Stockton. The Wellness Center is a free, drop-in facility that provides peer-run support for those with mental illnesses.” Those the Center serves are “frequently without health insurance or regular income.” He adds, “We are privileged to help this Center develop its resources.”

The Mental Health Awareness Committee hosts events throughout the year to bring awareness to mental health issues.
The Mental Health Awareness Committee hosts events throughout the year to bring awareness to mental health issues.

Mental health is a prevalent issue in California. Dr. Halliwell notes, “According to the U.S. Government approximately one in five adults in the U.S., 43.8 million or 18.5 percent of the population, experiences mental illness in a given year. California reports nearly 1.8 million individuals with a mental health-related issue.” In response, programs such as the one made possible by this grant provide resources and support for those dealing with mental illness. According to Dr. Halliwell, “The World Health Organization recognizes the importance of including consumers in the development of mental health education. Evidence-based practice shows that incorporating those with lived experience of mental illness as educators in training programs for pharmacy, nursing and medical students can elevate the status of the consumer and impart a greater sense of equality in the health decision-making process.”

A portion of the grant will go toward training consumables, including blood glucose and cholesterol tests, which will be administered by the students. Dr. Halliwell explains the reason these tests are an integral part of the program: “Many [prescription] drugs used in psychiatry, especially those for the treatment of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, change blood glucose and cholesterol levels. Routine testing of these parameters help reduce the risk of developing diabetes, obesity, stroke and cardiovascular disease. We are also running mental health screenings for depression, anxiety and insomnia.”

Dr. Halliwell sees this program as one way in which the School is continuing the tradition of community involvement. He expresses, “Healthcare professionals are an integral and important part of our community, so our involvement is essential and has always been a part of the activities of faculty, staff and students.”



Celebrating 60 Years of Excellence

As we celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Thomas J. Long School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, we’re reminded of all we have accomplished over the years. In the past year –– our faculty, students and alumni were once again recognized for their excellence with scholarships, grants and so much more. See for yourself, just click below…

Celebrate 60 Blog Image

Research Study Gives DPT Students Valuable Hands-On Experience

Preeti-Oza_headshotPreeti Oza, PT, PhD, NCS, believes that there is nothing that can compare to hands-on experience in preparing DPT students to be practice-ready upon graduating. Research studies are valuable not only for advancing the field of physical therapy, but also for giving students the opportunity to work side-by-side with experienced professionals. Oza says, “one of my career goals is to train students for clinical research.” According to Oza, one research study that is currently underway is the “effects of group exercises in quality of life and movements in individuals with Parkinson’s disease.” Working alongside Oza are three research assistants: Alysia Guerin ’16, Kayla Ledford ’16 and Darcy Schmalenbach ’16.

For Schmalenbach “So far, this project has given me experience using standardized tests and measures in order to collect baseline data from patients with Parkinson’s disease. […] This has given me the opportunity to see many different presentations of Parkinson’s disease.” In the fall Oza invited individuals from from the Parkinson’s support group of Stockton and of Lodi to a wellness clinic that was held on October 28, 2015. All 37 students in the Neuromuscular Physical Therapy course taught by Oza participated in the wellness clinic by administering assessments of balance and walking. The students then taught simple exercises that the individuals would be able to do on their own. They also introduced the use of technology, such as the Wii Fit, to help improve mobility and balance. Guerin describes her experience, “I was assigned to a patient and we worked with her through various functional tests and measures.” Guerin then “asked her a lot of questions about her good and bad days and how she keeps herself motivated.”

Each of the three research assistants have a specific reason for wanting to get involved in this particular research study. Guerin answers, “I have a big interest in neurological rehabilitation as well as a desire to partake in ways to help advance the field I [will] very soon [be] going into. I knew I wanted to take advantage of this great opportunity to learn from a very knowledgeable professor and work side-by-side on this project with her and fellow classmates.” For both Schmalenbach and Ledford working with people with Parkinson’s hits close to home. For Schmalenbach it is because of her grandfather who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s when she was very young. She shares, “I was able to experience the effect that physical therapy had on him and the positive impact that it had on his overall quality of life. When I heard about this project, I knew I wanted to be apart of something that could help those who suffer with Parkinson’s disease.” There was also an intersection of personal and professional for Ledford: “As my grandmother was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease a year ago I became more interested in the disease process and its effect on functional mobility.”

All three agree that the courses at Pacific have prepared them for the transition from the classroom into a clinical environment. Guerin proposes that “All of the courses we have taken have prepared us for the clinical setting. Not only have we learned an immense amount about the various aspects of physical therapy and how to best treat our future patients, we also relate that knowledge to the clinical setting and make it a practical learning environment. Each class is structured to help us gain more confidence each day in the knowledge we gain and who we can best apply it to help our future patients.” Ledford identifies a few of the specific skills gained: “Through this therapist-patient interaction I am able to practice rapport with [individuals],” as well as assessments and treatment strategies. Ledford continues, “Being apart of the process of evidence-based practice is rewarding and has given me more confidence as I come closer to completing the program.”

Schmalenbach shares, “I feel very lucky to attend [Pacific’s] DPT program and I think it is wonderful that they offer opportunities like this research project.” Ledford explains, “I am blessed to be in a program that has so much built-in support.” Guerin echoes the sentiment, “It truly feels like a family.” Further, Guerin finds motivation in the knowledge that “we are all in this together. The professors have been nothing but amazing with their guidance, knowledge and support. We are very lucky as students to be learning from some very successful and knowledgeable professors within the physical therapy field. I am looking forward to graduation and embarking into my career as a confident physical therapist and being a part of a truly amazing and rewarding profession.”


The 30th DPT Class Dons Their White Coats

On August 28, 2015, 36 students were cloaked by their second-year mentors and read the Physical Therapy Oath of Professionalism at the White Coat Ceremony. The Class of 2017 was chosen from a pool of 621 applicants. This year’s class will be the 30th graduating class of the doctor of physical therapy program.

Lonny Davis served as the keynote speaker for the event. Davis is the Founder and CEO of Hope Haven West, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping provide mobility to the disabled in developing countrdeans_letter_fall15_pt_wcc_wearing_coat_webies. Hope Haven volunteers collect used or discarded wheelchairs, which they then refurbish. The wheelchairs are then distributed to those who otherwise could not afford one. Their efforts are focused on Mexico, Central America and South America.

Davis delivered an inspirational speech to the PT students, faculty and guests. Davis shared short stories about his work helping the disabled throughout the world by providing and customizing mobility devices. Physical Therapy (PT) second year student, Teresa Li ’16 reported, “Lonnie encouraged us to keep the end goal in mind. What we are working and studying for is for the sake of our patients. The end goal is to benefit patients and the communities we serve.”

Casey Nesbit PT, DPT, DSc, PCS reinforced Davis’ challenge for the future DPTs to look beyond themselves to the community, both locally and abroad: “An important aspect of our professionalism is to use the knowledge and skills of physical therapy to make a difference in the lives of those in our global, as well as local communities.”

There are urgent needs right here in our own backyard. Over the past five years the School has partnered with Kaiser Permanente and the San Joaquin County Office of Education to deliver the Healthy Children program. This program seeks to address the pressing issue of childhood obesity. Nesbit stresses that this issue is “particularly troubling, because it can disrupt development and can perpetuate unhealthful behaviors that last a lifetime. [..] Through targeting at-risk children in our area, we hope to mitigate the effects of childhood obesity in the short-term and in generations to come. During the past five years, our Healthy Children program has provided services for almost 10,000 at-risk young people in our area. We also have served approximately 1,600 members of the community at the Pacific Family Health Fair.”

Special Remarks were presented by Danielle Sartori ‘06, DPT, recipient of the 2015 Physical Therapy Alumna of the Year Award. As President of the Pacific Physical Therapy Alumni Association she speaks from experience when she says “The relationships that you form here will continue to be a part of your lives as you embark on your professional journey. You will always be connected in Tiger spirit and supported by your fellow practitioners.”

Sartori understands the world of athletics from many angles. As an athlete she played a wide variety of sports including soccer, swimming and water polo. She has also approached athletics from the perspective of a coach and currently is a Goalie Coach for USA Water Polo. She is both a Physical Therapist and Sports Performance Director at TKJ Sports Performance and Physical Therapy in the Bay Area. She affirms that the field of physical therapy is “extremely gratifying.” She has found that “There are many paths one can take, and each one has the goal of promoting a patient’s optimal physical function”

Sartori believes that there are three key components to physical therapy: evaluate, educate and exercise. She explains, “These components contribute to a successful relationship between patient and physical therapist because they create an environment of knowledge and trust.” She encouraged the upcoming doctors in physical therapy to be “enthusiastic, inquisitive and observant.”


Inaugural Doctor of Audiology White Coat Ceremony

80% Science and 20% Art

Over 120 faculty, staff, family and friends came to witness the momentous occasion of the 23 doctor of audiology students receiving their white coats. The ceremony on September 28, 2015, ushered the inaugural class into the next step of their educational journey. Audiology Program Director Rupa Balachandran, PhD, explained the significance by saying, “White coats are symbolic of the professionalism that is expected of students in all clinical professions. This ceremony reaffirms the community’s support of the educational process that prepares future health care professionals for practice. The White Coat placed on each of our future audiologists today is more than a just a lab coat – it is a cloak of competence, caring and community.”

Pacific’s doctor of audiology program, located at San Francisco Campus, is a new program in the Thomas J. Long School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. It is one of four accelerated programs in the country and the only one in California. Its clinics, Pacific Hearing and Balance Centers in San Francisco and Stockton, along with anticipated collaborations with many Northern California medical and audiology centers, provide students with clinical experience and residencies.

deans_letter_fall15__Audiology-WCC_walking_webKim Lody, President of ReSound, served as the event’s keynote speaker. She emphasized the level of commitment required to succeed in this emerging field. Lody explained, “It will require that you stretch yourselves and reach for new levels of understanding in physiology, technology, and the psychology of helping others. You’ll learn new skills, techniques and new ways of interacting with people. And you’ll do that through a fresh, progressive program designed not only with the current health care environment in mind, but more importantly, with a focus on the future of audiology.”

She drew a comparison between audiology and art. She believes, “Audiology is 80% science and 20% art.” Further, “It requires that you read people so you can identify their true needs […]. Being an audiologist, just like being an artist, requires genuine curiosity about the world around you and the devotion to capture moments.”

In his address Dean Oppenheimer also correlated art and audiology with an anecdote about the sculptor Michelangelo. “The profession of Audiology is founded on precision and detail. You must understand that attention to detail will make a difference. In patient care, we can expect nothing less than greatness.”

In his welcome Dean Oppenheimer told the students “You are joining a wonderful family today, the Pacific Audiology family. The lofty status of the School is due to the academic quality of our students, their subsequent success as alumni, and the commitment to excellence of our faculty.” Dean Oppenheimer stressed the importance of shifting focus away from one’s grades and toward one’s patients. He said, “You are studying so that daily you will make positive interventions in your patient’s care.”

deans_letter_fall15_audiology_wcc_group_webThe event held special significance as these 23 individuals are trailblazers, both for the University of the Pacific and for the state of California. Touching on the world of opportunity that is open to these future professionals Lody gave some examples of the abundant opportunities that audiology offers. “Whether it’s an app to help manage tinnitus, a feature to geotag settings to a favorite coffee shop environment, or a multitude of biometric data and personalized interaction, there’s so much more to be discovered, developed and deployed to help people with hearing loss.”

Lody left the students with a challenge to take the time to reflect on the significance of this event and to ask themselves, “How will you utilize the trust that is placed in you by the patients seeking your help and expertise? Will you dedicate yourself to the art of helping others capture those moments that, for them, have been to that point in time, unnoticed, unrecognized and unheard?”

See more photos from the event at

For more information about Pacific’s doctor of audiology program visit To schedule a visit to the San Fransisco campus please


Welcome to the Family – The 2015 Pharmacy White Coat Ceremony

deans_letter_pharmacy_wcc_2015_webThe Pharmacy White Coat Ceremony on September 12, 2015, held special significance for PharmD student Anthony Garcia ’18. For him, personally donning the white coat brought with it a strong feeling of being “a part of a family.” He expressed that to become part of Pacific’s pharmacy family is “why I’ve worked so hard.” Garcia explains that the ceremony marks “your transition from a student to a professional.” From his perspective, there is also a transition from an atmosphere of competition to one of collaboration. As an undergraduate the focus is on grade and selling your academic achievement. In contrast, as a professional there is a common goal to help people.

When Garcia took Organic Chemistry as an undergraduate, a course notorious of its level of difficulty, he approached the course from the perspective that he was going to conquer the course’s negative stigma. That course had a dramatic impact on the direction of his academic career. He became a Pharmacy Technician and later went to UC Davis where he studied Pharmaceutical Chemistry.

While at UC Davis he was introduced to the Pacific community as Pacific was a partner for several Medicare events. He chose Pacific’s PharmD program because he got the distinct impression that it was a “tightly knit” community unlike any he had seen at other schools. That impression has “held true” and he says that he has “formed really close relationships with other students.” Another factor that led him here was the recommendation of alumni. During his time as a Pharmacy Technician he worked with several pharmacists that had gone through the program at Pacific who expressed that “they valued their education here.”

He strongly believes that “if you have resources you should share them,” as your strengths can help support others’ weaknesses and vice versa. By coming to the doctoral program with a background in pharmacy he is able to approach his studies with a foundational understanding of pharmaceuticals, chemistry and biology. This allows him to help others in the PharmD program in unique ways. For example, when it comes time to memorize drugs he has the advantage of experience and is able to help his classmates study for that portion of the exam.

In addition to having a background in science, Garcia is able to use his personal experiences to shape his approach to patient interactions. Garcia grew up in very underserved areas. This unique perspective gives him the opportunity to teach his fellow students about the psychological aspects that affect those individuals who are from underserved areas. Garcia strongly believes that a pharmacist cannot provide the patient with the proper treatment if one has preformed judgements. He warns against being influenced by negative stigmas and having a mindset of expecting the worst from certain individuals. He emphasizes, “You will never find the underlying issue if you don’t have the sympathy.”

Addressing current and future students, Garcia’s advice is to find a good support base, people you can rely on. He says “don’t be afraid to look for resources, scholarships or support groups.” He thinks that a lot of people are afraid to ask for help. As a student not asking for help can make the process of earning your degree incredibly difficult; as a professional it could be very dangerous. He believes that “the only way to get through this profession and have a good time doing it is to find a support group.”

The keynote speaker at the ceremony was Douglas Hillblom ’77 PharmD, Pacific Pharmacy Alumni Association Alumnus of the Year, who currently is the Vice President of Professional Practice and Pharmacy Policy for Optum Rx. His many achievements include 2014 California Pharmacists Association Pharmacist of the Year. A very active alumnus, many know him as a supportive mentor and trusted advisor. Echoing Garcia’s sentiment regarding patient care, Hillblom said in his address that “Being a Pharmacist is not a just a job it is a caring profession where each and every day you can impact someone’s life.” Further, “the future is wide open for each of you, and your practice will be dependent on the goals you set for yourself and the risks you are willing to take.”

Hillblom urged the students to be leaders in their field. “Innovation and leadership are qualities that Pacific pharmacists have continually demonstrated as the profession and our responsibilities as members of the patient care team continue to evolve.” The Class of 2018 has already proven themselves to meet the School’s standard for academic achievement and commitment to the service to others. The 208 students were chosen from a competitive pool of almost 1,400 applicants.

Echoing the feeling of family expressed by Garcia, Hillblom shared, “As members of the Pacific family and specifically the Pharmacy School Alumni Association, never forget we are here for you as supporters and mentors.” Hillblom closed with “Welcome to the family, your future starts today.”

To learn how to contribute to the ongoing legacy of the Thomas J. Long School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences please go to or contact Nancy DeGuire at 209.946.2752. To learn more about the PharmD program go to or contact Ron Espejo at 209.946.3957. For alumni interested in learning how to become a mentor contact Sarah Higgins at or 209.946.2545.


Hasna Manghi ’16 and James Wall ’16 Win CSHP’s Clinical Skills Competition

September 25, 2015, was a proud day for Pacific as once again as a team of PharmD students won the Clinical Skills Competition at the California Society of Health-System Pharmacists (CSHP) Seminar. With an attitude of confidence and a solid foundation of clinical skills Hasna Manghi ’16 and James Wall ’16 made a dynamic team.

Clinical Skills Competitideans_letter_fall15_james_hasna_clinical_skills_winners_webon has three levels, the first of which is a local competition held within a university. The winning teams in California then represents their universities at the state level at the CHSP seminar. The final level is at the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) annual Midyear Clinical Meeting. This year the ASHP conference will be held on December 5, 2015, in New Orleans, Louisiana. There Manghi and Wall will be competing against 138 teams from universities all across the country.

In describing the competition Assistant Clinical Professor and San Diego Regional Coordinator Marie C. Scott, PharmD, explains that there are three phases. During the first phase the team has two hours to “identify the most important therapeutic need and prepare a plan for the patient.” They then have only two minutes to present their recommendations. The final phase is eight minutes of question and answer during which they must defend their plan. According to Scott “they definitely need to be able to identify the most pressing needs to the patient.” To do so they have to “draw from their knowledge in therapeutics [and] pharmacology.”

Wall points out that just like in a real life scenarios “you can’t just open a book and fall on the right page and find out what’s wrong.” It is essential to have a framework from which you can systematically work to identify what is the primary problem and which are the peripheral issues that can be addressed at a later time. Manghi explains that the competition is a good introduction to the complexity and unpredictability of cases that one will face as a pharmacist: “You never know what to expect.” They recommend that as you are going through your clinical rotations that you try to absorb as much as you can.

Scott believes that what set Manghi and Wall apart from other teams was that they have a “strong knowledge base [and] speak with confidence.” Wall confirms that Pacific’s PharmD courses prepared them to tackle complicated cases and gave them the ability to effectively utilize a limited number of resources. Manghi proposes that the key to standing out from among the crowd is “showing the quality of yourself as a pharmacist.” Manghi emphasizes compassion, empathy and confidence: “The best advice I can give is confidence in your presentation.”

Wall says that he would “absolutely” encourage future students to participate in the Clinical Skills Competition as it is an excellent opportunity to hone your clinical skills. Scott believes that students “don’t think their clinical skills are polished enough, but this is such good practice to use all of the resources that are given to you.”

Manghi and Wall are deeply appreciative to Dr. Scott for facilitating the preliminary round and offering support throughout the process. Manghi said that Dr. Scott has “shown us a lot of love and a lot of support.”

This is not the first time that Pacific has beat out the competition at the CSHP seminar. In 2000 the winners Rajul Patel ’01, ’06, PharmD, PhD, who went on to become one of the School’s Associate Professors, and his now wife Annie Shinn Patel ’01, PharmD, PhD. Again in 2004 Pacific had a winning team with Jamie Chew ’05, PharmD, and Teresa Kwong Wakumoto ’05, PharmD.

Students who are interested in competing in next year’s Clinical Skills Competition should look through the participant resources and practice cases, which can be found at <>.


2015 SLP Employer Showcase Reveals That Demand Far Exceeds Supply

On November 2, 2015, the DeRosa Ballroom was packed with both exhibitors and students for the 2015 Speech-Language Pathology Employer Showcase. For approximately 65 students the event was an opportunity to explore different career paths. Meeting the representatives helps students put a face to the name of the different companies and organizations that employ speech-language pathologists. For employees the annual showcase is an opportunity to recruit and connect with those who will become among the best and the brightest in their field.

Joshua Rash ’16 fodeans_letter_fall15_slp_showcase1_webund “The back and forth dialogue was incredibly beneficial in increasing my ability to communicate with other professionals.” When Mackenzie Goold ’16 reflected on her interactions with the exhibitors she said that “It allowed me to further analyze my skills and experience based on their questions.” The Showcase also gives students a greater understanding of the diversity of career paths open to them; from large scale medical corporations to school districts. In addition to local employers, at the event there were exhibitors from as far west as Contra Costa County, as far south as Fresno and as far north as the Sacramento area.

This networking event is equally beneficial to employers. Barbara Taylor, MS, CCC-SLP, is the Vice President of Operations at The Speech Pathology Group (SPG). She explains that SPG is “a California provider of speech/language and behavior intervention services. SPG services pediatric through adult clients” in a wide variety of settings. Taylor finds that the “Recruitment of SLPs is a process that never ends at SPG due to the huge demand for these services. Like other private practices, public schools, non-public agencies and medical settings, SPG is constantly searching for Master’s Level therapists to hire.” She emphasizes, “the demand far exceeds the supply of candidates qualified for employment.”

Taylor expresses her appreciation for the invitation for SPG to participate in the showcase and for “the University’s willingness to coordinate” the event. “Each year SPG looks forward to the University of the Pacific’s Speech-Language Pathology Employer Showcase, as it provides us with an excellent opportunity to meet and chat with graduate students who are currently or will soon be seeking job opportunities. Many of our employees graduated from UOP and they arrive with a strong clinical and educational foundation. It is a pleasure to be a part of their professional growth during their CF (clinical fellowship) year and proudly watch them make significant contributions to our field.”

The U.S. Department of Labor confirms the rapidly growing demand for SLP professionals. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (2015), “Employment of speech-language pathologists is projected to grow 19 percent from 2012 to 2022, faster than the average for all occupations. As the large baby-boom population grows older, there will be more instances of health conditions that cause speech or language impairments, such as strokes and hearing loss.” In addition, “Increased awareness of speech and language disorders, such as stuttering, in younger children should also lead to a need for more speech-language pathologists who specialize in treating that age group. In addition, medical advances are improving the survival rate of premature infants and victims of trauma and strokes, many of whom need help from speech-language pathologists.”

Exhibitors at this year’s showcadeans_letter_fall15_slp_showcase14_webse included AFFIRMA Rehabilitation, Aureus Medical Group, BMR Health Services, Centre for Neuro Skills, Comfort Assisting, Inc. – Home Health Agency, Communication Works, EBS Healthcare, myTherapyCompany, Nova Therapies, Progressus Therapy, School Steps Inc., The Speech Pathology Group, Therapy Specialists and Total Education Solutions. Exhibitors from local hospitals came from Kaiser Permanente, Lodi Memorial Hospital/Lodi Health and Sutter Health. Representing schools were Campbell Union School District, Fresno Unified School District, Manteca Unified School District, San Joaquin County Office of Education, Stockton Unified School District, Twin Rivers Unified School District and West Contra Costa Unified School District.

To learn how to become an exhibitor at next year’s showcase contact Susan Webster, Director of Development, at 209.946.3116 or

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Speech-Language Pathologists, on the Internet at (visited October 15, 2015).