Immersive summer programs empower graduates and incoming students

Pacific’s Prep for Success lays strong foundation for success

Now in its second year, Pacific’s Prep for Success program bridges what incoming doctor of pharmacy (PharmD) students studied in their undergraduate courses with what they will learn in the PharmD program. Pacific’s Prep for Success takes place in the weeks leading up to the first semester of the PharmD program and has two components: virtual sessions and self-paced online modules. The modules focus on the core knowledge crucial to thrive academically and cover topics ranging from anatomy to statistics. 

“The purpose of the summer bridge program is to help students identify information they need to know and have committed to memory, as well as what they may have forgotten or didn’t learn well, in order for them to succeed in pharmacy school,” said Tara Jenkins, RPh, PhD, associate dean for academic affairs and professor of pharmacy practice. “After finding out their gaps, self-paced modules are available to help the student re-learn the material so that when they start pharmacy school, they are ready on day one to be successful.” 

In addition to foundational subjects, Pacific’s Prep for Success helps students develop soft skills. Mark Stackpole, MA, EdD, director of the Office of Academic Success and Instructional Support, emphasizes the big leap from undergraduate to PharmD course work. He believes that to be successful in Pacific’s accelerated PharmD program, it is essential to ask for help and utilize strategies for time management and stress management.

Students in White Coat Ceremony in Alex G. Spanos Center.

During the White Coat Ceremony, students are cloaked with their white coat, a symbol of professionalism and commitment to patient care.

“Just getting by and cramming at the last minute are not options,” Dr. Stackpole said.

Results and feedback from students in last year’s inaugural program were positive. 

“My office saw a real uptick in terms of connection. Students felt more supported and informed,” Dr. Stackpole said. 

“Of the students who completed the modules in areas where they scored 70 percent or less on the baseline assessment, all have been successful this year,” Dr. Jenkins said.

While not mandatory, the program is a valuable resource to gain confidence in key topics. Additionally, through the virtual sessions, incoming students can connect with peers and establish a network of support.

Rx4Success prepares graduates for licensure exams

Carissa Leung ’23, PharmD returned to campus this summer with a singular focus: studying for upcoming pharmacist licensure exams.

Nearly 130 PharmD graduates took part in a newly launched, one-of-a-kind immersive board preparatory program designed to provide intense preparation for state and national licensure examinations. Pacific provided the comprehensive three-week program, including on-campus housing, at no cost. 

Offering dozens of presentations from carefully selected alumni and pharmacists, the program was designed to boost pass rates of licensure exams. Featuring nearly 90 hours of intensive programming, the program and custom-designed app are distinctive in pharmacy education, where existing preparatory classes are both expensive and short in duration. 

“Our program and the accompanying app were intentionally designed to provide a more comprehensive review of material to ensure our graduates get the most benefit and place them in the best position to succeed,” said Rajul A. Patel ’01, ’06, PharmD, PhD, professor of pharmacy practice.

To create Rx4Success, the planning committee surveyed third-year students to assess potentially problematic subjects, solicited feedback from recent test takers about material they felt underprepared for and carefully evaluated the licensure exam blueprints as to the breadth of topics covered on the two exams. In total, 44 themed areas were identified. The team received 112 speaker nominations, highlighting the desire of practicing pharmacists to support their future colleagues. Ultimately, 39 program speakers were chosen. Jessica Song, PharmD, FCSHP, professor and chair of the Department of Pharmacy Practice, and Sian M. Carr-Lopez ’85, PharmD, FCSHP, clinical professor of pharmacy practice, lent their expertise to the review of the presentation material.

Students lined up at Commencement.

Graduates of the Class of 2023 celebrated their accomplishments during the Diploma and Hooding Ceremony at the Alex G. Spanos Center on May 13, 2023.

“The speakers helped us pinpoint what is being asked during the exam and provided real-life applications,” said Dr. Leung. “The program was well-organized, with speakers who were experts in their fields.”

Katilin Highsmith ’12, PharmD, BCOP, clinical pharmacy specialist at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, presented an oncology session. 

“The program is much needed and a great idea,” Dr. Highsmith said. “It’s good for students to have a program in place that allows for concentrated review.” 

Participants were also given access to a powerful study tool — an app that maps out hundreds of the most commonly used medications in a wide variety of pharmaceutical settings, including the drugs’ generic name, brand name and uses, with particular attention paid to drugs recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration. The app was the result of the teamwork of Dr. Carr-Lopez, Dr. Song and James “Jim” A. Uchizono, PharmD, PhD, professor of pharmaceutics and medicinal chemistry and associate dean of student affairs and admission. 

Rx4Success underscores Pacific’s commitment to support alumni throughout their careers. 

“Many thanks to the core team who made this vision a reality, the presenters who shared their time and talents and President Callahan who supported this program,” said Dean Berit Gundersen ’84, PharmD. “I commend the participants for their engagement and professionalism and wish them the best of luck in their careers.”