Pharmacy School Q&A: Chapman University School of Pharmacy
Orange County’s first pharmacy school, the Chapman University School of Pharmacy, launched its first cohort of 76 students into Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experiences during the summer of 2017.
Orange County’s first pharmacy school, the Chapman University School of Pharmacy (CUSP), launched its first cohort of 76 students into Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experiences during the summer of 2017. The school was proud to place 13 of those students into competitive residencies and fellowships. CUSP received full accreditation from the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE) in June 2018 just as planned. CUSP offers an accelerated PharmD degree and a Freshman Early Assurance Program that serves as a pathway to the PharmD degree with 4 semesters of prepharmacy on its main campus in Orange, California.
CUSP offers 5 program options: the accelerated doctor of pharmacy program, a master of science, a PhD in the pharmaceutical sciences, the Pre-Pharmacy Freshman Early Assurance Program, and its first 4 + 1 integrated undergraduate master’s degree with the Schmid School of Science and Technology. Other joint- and dual-degree options for master and PharmD programs are under discussion within the school and with the Argyros School of Business and Economics and the Fowler School of Law.
Dean Ronald Jordan, RPh, FAPhA, told Pharmacy Careers® that CUSP is located in a “wonderful place to live, work, and attend college. It is also an extraordinary laboratory for health care change, with 4 major health systems all innovating change, an extremely wide socioeconomic diversity between wealth and poverty, and one of the most diverse cultural populations in any county, with very large representations from some countries.”
In the 2017 fiscal year, CUSP improved its national ranking for total research from 59th in the nation to 46th place. CUSP had 43 faculty during this period, and over 25% of them had funded research awards. The school’s assessment data continues to demonstrate student, faculty, and staff satisfaction levels that exceed national averages and, in many areas, the levels of satisfaction seen at other California schools of pharmacy.
Q: What is unique about your school?A: The CUSP vision is to become a recognized leader in pharmacy and patient safety initiatives that deliver an avantgarde approach to education, health care, and research. We are educating and developing the next generation of pharmacists and pharmaceutical scientists who will improve health by engaging in team-based, patient safety—focused health care and by conducting transformative research and scholarship. Our pharmacy practitioners and scientists possess a deep scientific foundation, a passion for human health improvement, and the commitment to eliminate preventable medical harm and death. This aim of improving safety is central to our school’s 5-year plan, and all our community members have a caring concern and a desire to help people live healthier and better lives.
CUSP is located at the state-of-the-art Harry and Diane Rinker Health Science Campus in beautiful Irvine, California. From day 1, students can take advantage of Chapman’s Southern California location, which blends the ease of small-city living with access to cultural experiences, internships, and job prospects in one of the world’s most exciting metropolises. Irvine was one of the first planned cities in America, and the historical visions for the community driven by the Irvine Company continue to unfold as planned today.
CUSP was established by the university with a $60-million investment as part of a $150-million-plus investment to move into health science professional education. Chapman currently owns 7 buildings and over 25 acres at the Rinker Health Science Campus. The first 2 buildings on Jeronimo Road are now fully occupied by Chapman health programs in pharmacy, physical therapy, physician assistant, and communication sciences and disorders programs. A new PrescribeWellness Center at CUSP opened in October 2018. This pharmacy of the future aims to deliver business-to-business advanced practice pharmacy services in the Irvine area as it trains the practitioners of the next generation.
Our initial investment in research facilities and faculty is highly unusual for a new school of pharmacy. The plan to provide a deep scientific foundation for pharmacy practitioners was realized in the faculty hiring process and our investments in state-of-the-art laboratories. Students from each cohort and in multiple colleges participate in research at CUSP along with more than 30% of the PharmD students who elect capstone electives in this area with research faculty. The school conducts basic science and clinical and translational research. A product being developed by one faculty member is approaching a phase 2 clinical trial. Associate Dean and Chief Medical Officer Sean Nordt, MD, PharmD, a board-certified toxicologist and an emergency department physician, oversees the school’s curriculum, student academic performance, and interprofessional education, as well as the CUSP Seminar Series, which brings highly successful physicians, pharmacists, and government officials into close contact with PharmD students and faculty on a monthly basis.
We have a strong focus on interprofessional training that has a renewed emphasis on student physician and practitioner interaction with PharmD students based on the direction espoused by the ACPE Board of Directors. Tied with our patient safety strategic goals, CUSP offers robust programming that facilitates significant hands-on simulations of health care team interaction as well as actual clinical care.
Our program is also built on a very ambitious assessment program that delivers integrated examinations every 3 weeks via the ExamSoft electronic testing platform. We believe in continuous comprehensive examination, which teaches students to study regularly instead of trying to cram for exams.
We are also the only school in the country that boasts having 2 current and 1 past American Pharmacists Association presidential officers on our leadership team.
Q: What is the teaching style or philosophy?A: We are actively engaging students in their own learning through the use of a flipped-classroom framework and a focus on team and leadership training.
Every student receives Apple technology for use in classes, study, and testing. In the flipped approach to teaching, the faculty curate materials that direct students to gain basic understanding and knowledge about various subjects outside class. When in class, faculty act as guides who help the teams of student apply their knowledge and understanding to problemsolving simulated cases and research.
When we bring them to class in our uniquely designed laboratories and classrooms, students apply their knowledge to problem solving, innovation, and development of answers through teamwork and communication. The teams are intentionally diverse in all aspects including age, life experience, and cultural and socioeconomic background. The teams are also assigned and changed every trimester to ensure students learn to work with a wide array of people with skills and experience that might be different from their own, just as they will face in their careers regardless of the direction they head. We like to say our faculty members are not lecturing in the traditional “sage on the stage” mode. Instead, they are the “guide on the side,” helping each student personally learn at the speed appropriate for them.
In our new 5-year strategic plan, the faculty and staff will design and build a new culture that is unique to CUSP and aimed at creating a truly high-performing organization. This will create role models and tools for interactions that students can use in the organizations they encounter in school and their future careers.
When you build a new school, you bring folks from a wide variety of schools and career experiences. The ideas they bring help build the foundation of the organization. Once the foundation is complete, it is important to construct a scaffold of optimum behaviors, attitudes, and approaches and work together through inevitable change and problem solving that will result in optimum results. Health care needs higher-performing teams to protect patients from medical harm.
Q: What are some community outreach activities or programs in which the school participates?A: CUSP now boasts more than a dozen student organizations that have engaged in a wide variety of service and community interactions in Southern California. The organizations are connected with state and national associations and compete in programs and initiatives sponsored by those groups. Our students have all engaged in community outreach and, in some cases, have won awards and accolades from government officials, organization heads, and associations. We are very proud of their work and missions.
Q: What opportunities do students have for internships or co-ops?A: We have enlisted hundreds of individual mentors to work with students in all required practice areas as well as in some innovative practice settings such as the pharmaceutical industry, managed care, and government. We have been fortunate to place students in distant competitive residencies and fellowships. We have the experiential education capacity we need for our class size, and our preceptor surveys and feedback on student performance are gratifying.
Q: What advice do you have for students who will graduate this year?A: We encourage our graduates to stay connected with the faculty and work here at CUSP to help shape their passions. We are developing efficient ways for faculty to stay connected to our graduates so that we can further assist them and engage them in the education of their following cohorts. We hope to celebrate their work and passion for caring as they develop in their careers. We advise our students to embrace and seek change that helps improve their ability to deliver excellent care. We also advise them to stay involved in their evolving profession, one that needs engaged, well-educated graduates to help shape an optimal future for our profession and the patients we serve.