The Lloyd L. Gregory School of Pharmacy at Palm Beach Atlantic University

Location: West Palm Beach, Florida

Founded: 2001

Class Size: 75 students

Students of the Lloyd L. Gregory School of Pharmacy (GSOP) at Palm Beach Atlantic University spend 4 years learning how to be exceptional pharmacists academically, professionally, and spiritually.

“The Palm Beach Atlantic University GSOP offers a Christian, faith-based pharmacy education,” said Dean Mary Ferrill, PharmD, in an interview with Pharmacy Times. “We take a holistic approach to developing the individual, with an abundance of hands-on experience built into the curriculum and a focus on pharmacy with faith and excellence with character.”

Following this philosophy, students of the school excel in both academics and community care. GSOP graduates ranked number 1 in the NAPLEX pass rate in Florida in 2011 and 2013, and have won first place in the Florida Pharmacy Association National Alliance of State Pharmacy Associations and the Nonprescription Medicines Academy competition for 4 of the last 5 years. Students of the school also complete more than 4500 hours community service both nationally and internationally each year.

The school offers a Doctor of Pharmacy degree, as well as a dual degree program through which students can earn a PharmD along with an MBA. Students also have the opportunity to complete extra coursework during the first year of the PharmD program to earn a BS in medicinal chemistry.

“Students learn in small classes and receive personalized instruction from accessible professors,” Ferrill said. “Many services and programs are provided to help students meet their professional goals, including a career development series, professional speakers, and mentor programs.”

GSOP students have the opportunity to put their knowledge and skills to the test by participating in the school's medical mission program.

GSOP studnets organize and host an annual local community health fair to promote health awareness among the community.

Q: What is the teaching style or philosophy?A: The best way to remember the ever-expanding volume of medical information that changes so rapidly is to work in teams and explain the information to someone else. That is why we incorporate many active learning strategies, such as team-based learning, case-based learning, and processed oriented-guided inquiry learning.

Q: What are some community outreach activities or programs the school participates in? What volunteer opportunities are available to students?A: Servant leadership is a driving force behind GSOP’s mission. Students are encouraged to follow Christ’s example of serving, teaching, and healing those in need. We have a number of chartered student organizations that encourage participation in service and volunteer programs, and many partnerships with local charities.

We also host an annual local community health fair to promote health awareness, prevention and treatment, as well as provide students with a meaningful service learning experience. The health fair is entirely organized by students to connect with and educate the community.

In addition to local outreach activities, students also have the opportunity to participate in GSOP’s medical mission program each year. Mission teams have treated countless patients and filled thousands of prescriptions in countries around the world, including the Amazon, Belize, Bolivia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Honduras, Taiwan, Uganda and Zambia, and in the United States.

Despite the difficult physical conditions of mission trips, GSOP students receive invaluable on-the-job training and are able to put their knowledge and skills to the test. They participate in activities ranging from counseling patients and filling medications to performing blood pressure screenings, helping in triage and diagnostics, and praying with patients.

Q: What advice do you have for students who will graduate this year?A: My advice can be summed up in just one word: love. I’m not referring to loving your profession, which is not a bad thing, but it’s not really about loving your career. It’s about loving people.

When patients come to see a pharmacist, they normally bring with them a whole host of concerns that relate to their physical, mental, or spiritual being. The patient might have been treated poorly by someone else in the health care system, they might have just received some devastating news, or they might be trying to cope with personal problems at home or work. And, unbeknownst to the pharmacist, they carry of all of it with them to the encounter.

The pharmacist is often their last stop in an otherwise frustrating health care experience, and bears the brunt of their pent-up anger or impatience. Oftentimes, there may not be anything we can do for a patient medically, but we can always provide unconditional love.