East Tennessee State University Bill Gatton College of Pharmacy

One of the buzzwords in today's pharmacy education is "interprofessional education," and the East Tennessee State University Bill Gatton College of Pharmacy offers just that.

Location: Johnson City, Tennessee

Founded: 2005

Class Size: Approximately 80 students

One of the buzzwords in today’s pharmacy education is “interprofessional education,” and the East Tennessee State University Bill Gatton College of Pharmacy offers just that.

Dean Larry D. Calhoun, PharmD, told Pharmacy Times that the Bill Gatton College of Pharmacy is one of the few pharmacy schools in the country that resides on a larger academic health sciences campus comprised of the Colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Public Health, and Allied and Rehabilitative Health Sciences. Dr. Calhoun noted that the pharmacy school is fortunate to have a vice president of health affairs who strongly encourages the growth of meaningful interprofessional education on the health sciences campus.

However, Dr. Calhoun said the college’s strongest asset is its culture. The Bill Gatton College of Pharmacy encourages genuine human connectedness such as faculty-student relationships, and it places an emphasis on mutual responsibility to work for and with others. Students can speak freely, honestly, and with respect on campus, Dr. Calhoun said.

In terms of academics, almost 20% of the student body participates in elective research projects with faculty mentors. The college developed a research concentration option for students interested in basic science or clinical research projects, poster presentations, and manuscript preparation. Also in the works is a second concentration called Independent Pharmacy Ownership for students interested in owning their own pharmacy business. Students are also able to earn dual degrees within the colleges of business and public health.

Those with a travel bug can study in Ireland, Scotland, and Hungary, or go with a faculty member to a third-world country for medical missions.

“These experiences not only allow our students to experience another country’s health care system and culture, but they [also] create professional and patient care experiences that students will remember for a lifetime,” Dr. Calhoun told Pharmacy Times.

Q. What is the teaching style or philosophy?

A: The faculty at the Bill Gatton College of Pharmacy is committed to excellence in teaching, using a variety of teaching and learning methods to achieve the outcomes of the curriculum. Our newly revised curriculum emphasizes integration between the pharmaceutical and clinical sciences. In addition, the faculty is committed to utilizing active learning strategies, including labs, small-group case discussions, team-based learning, Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning, as well as simulated practice experiences. The new curriculum emphasizes interprofessional education as a priority. All students on the Academic Health Sciences campus are expected to participate in courses that promote collaborative learning alongside students from other health professions. The emphasis that the Bill Gatton College of Pharmacy places on educational excellence has returned large dividends for our students in their professional success. We are particularly proud that our students took the national championship title in the 2013 ACCP Clinical Pharmacy Challenge.

Q. What are some community outreach activities or programs the school participates in? What volunteer opportunities are available to students?

A. A dozen student organizations housed at/supported by the college provide many opportunities throughout the year for students to give back to the community. In addition to raising several thousand dollars and collecting needed supplies annually for local and national charities, students participate in several volunteer activities. Our students have been nationally recognized for their efforts with Generation Rx, in which they educate local school-aged children about the dangers of prescription drug abuse. Other student groups volunteer their time at senior living centers and at afterschool tutoring programs for underprivileged children. They also provide meals to families at the local Ronald McDonald House. These examples only graze the surface of all the wonderful things Gatton students are involved with.

A: During all years of the curriculum, students gain experience in various pharmacy practice settings alongside experienced preceptors who have a passion for the profession. Students are expected to progressively apply in these practice environments what they have learned in the classroom. In the fourth year, the program culminates in advanced pharmacy practice experiences where students participate in core experiences such as acute care, ambulatory care, and community pharmacy, as well as practice electives that allow students to explore interests and further individualize his/her education. For those who are interested in postgraduate residency training, the faculty and Office of Experiential Education work with students to set up fourth-year experiences that maximize competitiveness for the residency match.

Q. What advice do you have for students who will graduate this year?

A. Don’t expect the first job you take to be the last job you have…just treat it like it is!