CUTTING EDGE: MARSHALL UNIVERSITY’S SCHOOL OF PHARMACY GROWING AT IMPRESSIVE RATE
When Marshall University’s School of Pharmacy (MUSOP) officially opened in 2012, few could have imagined how quickly the program would blossom.
In just eight years, the School of Pharmacy has graduated hundreds of talented young individuals and recently moved the program from its initial location in Spring Valley at the Coon Education Building to the brand new, state-of-the-art Stephen J. Kopp Hall on Marshall University’s Health Sciences campus in downtown Huntington. Kopp Hall was dedicated in September of 2019.
The new location supports the School’s team-based academic community, combining resources with Allied Health Programs through the College of Health Professions and the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine. In addition to the new educational facilities, the university has constructed a new 200 unit graduate housing building which consists of one and two-bedroom apartments.
“Our first location at the Coon Education Building was beautifully renovated for us as we began the doctoral program. It was convenient to be next door to the VA Medical Center also,” said Terri Moran, the Assistant Dean for Student Affairs for the School of Pharmacy. “As the program grows and we develop into a full health science center with the university and our colleagues in the other health professions, it became important that we have a location allowing us collaboration opportunities convenient to campus and the other professional programs.
“We love our new building and its location, and we are proud to be a new part of the Fairfield community.”
In less than a decade Moran, the sole employee for Student Affairs at the School of Pharmacy when the program was getting up and running in 2011, has seen plenty of change and has enjoyed watching the program take flight. She vividly recalls those early days dreaming up where the program could go and then observing the inaugural class, beginning with the program in August of 2012 and graduating in May of 2016.
“In the first few years we worked through filling the faculty and staff necessary to ensure that the program was a success. We wrote and put in place policies and procedures for the school. We wrote standards to meet the benchmarks for pre-candidate status and continued to ensure that we put forth our best efforts to meet our goal of full accreditation status when our inaugural class graduated,” Moran said. “As you can imagine, there was a lot of excitement and anticipation in building a new professional level degree program for the university. As one of the initial hires, it has been incredibly rewarding to see the progression from our first days before even having students to where we are today, now having graduated five classes.
“I became very close with our inaugural class and am still in contact with many of them today. I am their proud ‘Marshall Mom’ and love them all. I would be lying if I said there weren’t tears at that first graduation ceremony.”
Moran is the Assistant Dean for Student Affairs where she works in the areas of recruiting students, assisting students with the admissions process and helping them with progression through the program. A graduate of Marshall and a 25-year employee of the university, Moran is also actively involved in event planning, including the annual white coat ceremony for incoming students and the pinning ceremony for students as they move to their fourth year rotations.
“The most enjoyable part of my job is interacting with students. Getting to know the students and helping them to be successful are what I love doing,” Moran said.
Marshall University’s School of Pharmacy is guided by Gayle Brazeau, a longtime pharmacy educator and former dean at the University of New England College of Pharmacy in Portland, Maine, who took over as dean in May of 2018. Upon her arrival, she became the school’s second dean, following inaugural dean Kevin Yingling, who stepped down from the position in 2017.
Under the leadership of Brazeau, the program continues to find new and innovative ways to educate students and produce top professionals in the field as one of only three ACPE-accredited doctorate programs in West Virginia.
“We utilize the active learning, or flipped classroom model, where students are engaged in active learning during class time as opposed to the standard lecture hall format,” Moran said. “Students are assigned to groups and work with their group for the semester, so collaboration is an essential part of our program. Students who enjoy the idea of teams and community would be the student who will be successful in our program. Like any other pharmacy program, it is a professional level degree, so it will have challenges, but overcoming those challenges is part of the accomplishment.
“We admit up to 80 students per class, so we are not so large that you are lost in the crowd. Our students definitely build relationships and friendships with each other and enjoy time together outside of class. We refer to ourselves as the ‘pharmily’ and strive to take care of each other just like you would members of your family at home.”
And that family-first atmosphere has led to an active and successful alumni class that not only contribute greatly to their communities, but also give back to the university and current students in the program in impactful ways.
“Our alumni are nothing short of impressive, considering the short amount of time since they have graduated,” Moran said. “They are spread across the United States and internationally, working in all areas of pharmacy, including community, hospital, and industry. Many are serving as preceptors for us now, passing on the tradition of learning with passion that was taught to them at MUSOP, and several are currently serving as faculty in the program.”
Always looking to be innovative, the MUSOP has grown in several new areas and advanced partnerships that have added to the success of the school. One of those is a new Early Assurance program for high school seniors in the PharmD program who can apply to the school early and complete their pre-requisite courses on main campus before joining the School of Pharmacy.
MUSOP also has dual degree programs with other colleges on campus, making it easy for students interested in other fields to pursue other degrees. Examples include the PharmD/MBA degree for those interested in business, and the PharmD/MPH for those interested in the public health field. The school also has a master’s degree program in Pharmaceutical Science for those interested in research opportunities, as well as a research certificate for PharmD students.
Of course, like many programs at Marshall, the School of Pharmacy has had to navigate the uncharted waters brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, but the school is meeting those challenges head-on and looks forward to welcoming students back in the fall.
“We are currently planning to return to school this fall and putting steps in place to ensure everyone’s safety. As future health care professionals, our students are well educated in managing the concerns that we face with COVID-19 and we know that they will all work together to do their part as we return to campus,” Moran said. “As we develop our plans, we have been holding routine virtual town hall meetings with our students to keep them informed as plans are put into place and allow them opportunity for questions and to provide feedback.
“We will be practicing CDC guidelines of social distancing, hand washing, masks and PPE, as well as limiting traffic flow throughout the building with signage. This is an unusual time for all of us, and we will continue to monitor and take progressive actions as necessary for the well-being of everyone at our school.”
As the Marshall University School of Pharmacy continues to grow, there are several ways in which donors and alumni can contribute to the program. MUSOP recently launched a “Sponsor a White Coat” program that provides an opportunity for donors to support the symbolic white coats provided to students at the beginning of their first year, marking them as future pharmacists and health care professionals. Additionally, the program is always seeking assistance with its Student Success Fund, which helps offset costs for students in emergency situations.
Of course donations are far from the only way in which individuals can help students in the program.
“There are many other ways that people can support our program, including volunteering as a standardized patient or offering career guidance,” Moran said. “We are firm believers in growing our pharmily – not just with students, but with friends in our community.”
To learn more about giving opportunities within the School of Pharmacy, please contact Megan Russell, Director of Recruitment and Development at email@example.com or (304) 696-6009.