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Pharmacy student doing an experiment

School of Pharmacy Launches New Master’s in Pharmaceutical Sciences

The University of Maryland School of Pharmacy has launched a new Master of Science (MS) in Pharmaceutical Sciences (PSC) to provide students with the advanced education and cutting-edge training needed to obtain high-level research and leadership positions in pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies as well as in the federal government. The 16-month, full-time program is based at the Universities at Shady Grove in Rockville, Md., and integrates basic and applied pharmaceutical sciences with hands-on laboratory research experience.

“The School of Pharmacy is incredibly excited to offer the new MS in PSC,” says Sarah Michel, PhD, professor in PSC and director of the PSC Graduate Program. “We believe this degree fills a critical gap that many students encounter after completing a bachelor’s degree. While students might know that they want to pursue a career in research, they are not sure if a career in an industry, government, or academic setting is the best fit for them. Our program allows students to ‘test the waters,’ and equips them with the knowledge and skills necessary to pursue careers in the biopharmaceutical industry or federal government labs, or to take the next step in their education by completing a doctoral degree.”

Setting the Standard for Pharmaceutical Sciences Graduate Education

The MS in PSC is a full-time academic program designed for students who are interested in pursuing careers in scientific research. It builds on the School of Pharmacy’s more than 175-year reputation of advancing scientific knowledge across the spectrum of drug discovery and development, allowing students the opportunity to learn from faculty and other researchers who are widely recognized for their contributions to the field of pharmaceutical sciences, as well as pursue research in the areas of chemical and biology discovery, translational therapeutics, and pharmacometrics.

A hallmark of the MS in PSC is the completion of a biopharmaceutical research internship — an experience facilitated by the program’s prime location at the Universities at Shady Grove, which is just a short drive from several premier pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, research laboratories, and federal agencies that offer potential internships for students.

“The completion of a biopharmaceutical research internship truly sets apart the School of Pharmacy’s MS in PSC from other programs across the country,” Michel says. “Students are able to take the lead in designing and developing a unique research project, which they complete during their internship with a local pharmaceutical company, government agency, or faculty member at the school. This internship not only provides students with hands-on experience in a real laboratory setting, but also helps them better understand what to expect if they choose to pursue a career in that particular setting.

“This experience also helps students begin to build their professional network by introducing them to potential future employers.”

Preparing Students for Success Outside of the Classroom

The MS in PSC does not require the completion of a thesis. Instead, students complete and present a capstone project based on the research conducted during their biopharmaceutical research internship.

“The MS in PSC is a holistic program that provides students with the tools to both design a research project and disseminate the results of that projects,” Michel says. “We want to ensure that our graduates have all of the skills they will need to be successful pharmaceutical scientists.”

The MS in PSC welcomes students with degrees in a variety of different science disciplines, including chemistry, biology, and engineering. Students whose degrees are not in a scientific discipline, but who have completed specific prerequisite science classes are also invited to apply.

The application deadline for this program is March 15. To learn more, view this video or visit the program’s website.

— Malissa Carroll

Malissa CarrollEducation, UMB NewsDecember 6, 20180 comments
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Dr. Mackowiak discusses his new book

Mackowiak’s New Book Offers Intersection of Art, Medicine, and Science

Philip A. Mackowiak, MD ’70, MBA, is more medical historian than art aficionado, but in researching and writing his latest book, Patients As Art: Forty Thousand Years of Medical History in Drawings, Paintings, and Sculptures, he learned a few things along the way.

“Before doing this book, I couldn’t even spell the word ‘art’ — but now I’m an expert, thanks to the internet,” Mackowiak joked before launching a presentation about his new book to a crowd of 60 that included members of the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) community and his family and friends on Dec. 4 at Davidge Hall.

Mackowiak, professor emeritus of medicine and the Carolyn Frenkil and Selvin Passen History of Medicine Scholar at the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM), delivered background and insight on the book during his half-hour lecture, which was sponsored by the UMB Council for the Arts & Culture. He displayed slides of 10 of the 160 pieces he analyzed from a medical and scientific perspective, ranging from Rembrandt’s famed The Raising of Lazarus to a watercolor titled Pollution, painted by a Canadian artist named Catherine Hennessey.

The watercolor, in fact, is featured on the cover of the book, which spans 244 pages and 10 chapters relating to medical subjects such as nutrition, surgery, mental health, genetics, and death and dying. Pollution is included in the chapter on public health. In the book, Mackowiak describes it, writing, “Hennessey’s image is arresting, shocking, yet strangely beautiful, like the vibrant colors of a sunset viewed through sickening urban smog.” (See photo, above)

“This artist has done a number of really captivating watercolors, but this is the opus magnum,” Mackowiak told the crowd, adding that he was so taken with the painting that he bought it from Hennessey.

Mackowiak continued the lecture with more art analyses and medical diagnoses, including:

  • The Dissection of a Cadaver, 15th century: Mackowiak noted that the procedure illustrated probably wasn’t a dissection at all, because a close inspection shows that three of the men standing over the body seem to be holding him down, an insight first noted by his former UMSOM colleague Frank M. Calia, MD, MACP. “And you see a fellow on the far right of the painting who’s holding something in his hand. So based on Dr. Calia’s observations and doing another consideration of the painting, I suggest that this is not the dissection of a cadaver. In fact, it’s a lithotomy — the removal of a bladder stone, and that stone is being held by the person at the far right.”
  • The Beggars, 1568: This painting depicts beggars with missing legs, but Mackowiak surmises that there was no medical reason for amputation. Studying the expressions on their faces led him to believe they were mentally retarded. “There was no disorder at that time that could have destroyed the lower legs in a symmetrical fashion without killing them,” he said. “So I suggest these were strategic amputations done by the family to make these poor souls more pitiable and therefore more effective as beggars. That sounds bizarre, and it’s hard to believe. But I saw exactly this same thing in Bangladesh when I was there as a medical student at this institution.”
  • Battle of Issus, 100 B.C.: From this mosaic, Mackowiak blew up an inset of Alexander the Great and takes a keen focus on Alexander’s eyes, which seem to show concern rather than confidence. “Does that look like an all-conquering warrior?” Mackowiak said. “To my way of thinking, it looks like a warrior who wonders, ‘What the hell am I doing here?’ The artist who produced this might well have realized the existence not only of post-traumatic stress disorder in the common soldier, but also that this sort of thing can happen to commanders, too.”

Mackowiak’s presentation clearly showed his expertise as one of the most accomplished medical historians in the country, and Patients As Art follows his first two books, Post Mortem: Solving History’s Great Medical Mysteries, and Diagnosing Giants: Solving the Medical Mysteries of Thirteen Patients Who Changed the World.  

Since the mid-1990s, he and the University of Maryland Medical Alumni Association have organized the Historical Clinicopathological Conference, which has examined the illnesses or deaths of figures such as Edgar Allan Poe, Abraham Lincoln, Eleanor Roosevelt, Christopher Columbus, Beethoven, and Mozart. The 2007 conference, for instance, determined that President Lincoln would have survived an assassin’s bullet if the R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center existed in 1865. The 26th conference will be held in May 2019. 

Larry Pitrof, the alumni association’s executive director, noted that when Mackowiak talked about retiring five years ago, two benefactors — Carolyn Frenkil and Selvin Passen, MD — stepped up to fund the doctor’s endowed scholar position. Pitrof thanked Frenkil, who was in attendance, for her support, as well as the UMB Council for the Arts & Culture for its sponsorship of the lecture.

“We’re celebrating an awful lot of history on the UMB campus right now,” Pitrof said, “and it’s our belief that programs like this truly separate the great institutions from the good ones.”

— Lou Cortina

Learn more about the book.

 

Lou CortinaEducation, People, UMB News, University LifeDecember 6, 20180 comments
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School of Medicine logo

Heart Failure Seminar Scheduled for Jan. 18

Spend Jan. 18 learning about the latest advances in heart failure care, including when to refer patients for consideration of mechanical heart pumps and heart transplant. The registration deadline is Jan. 5, but you can register early for a discount by Dec. 15. Food and parking are complimentary.

Purposes of the seminar

  • To provide state-of-the-art, up-to-date reviews of diagnosis and management for patients with heart failure with reduced and preserved ejection fraction, pulmonary hypertension and right heart failure, amyloidosis, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, mechanical circulatory support, and heart transplantation.
  • To emphasize the importance of early referral for advanced therapy evaluation.

More info

  • Speakers: Experts in the field of heart failure and cardiothoracic surgery from the University of Maryland and Johns Hopkins Hospital.
  • Target audience: Physicians, pharmacists, NPs, PAs, RNs, fellows, residents, students.
  • When: Friday, Jan. 18
  • Time: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Where: SMC Campus Center
  • Registration:  Go to this website. RNs should click option for NPs and pharmacists to register.
  • Early bird registration: Dec. 15 by 5 p.m.
  • Regular registration deadline: Jan. 5 by 5 p.m.
  • Note: Submit your challenging cases for discussion via email to vton@som.umaryland.edu
Van-Khue TonClinical Care, Education, UMB NewsDecember 6, 20180 comments
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America's Got Regulatory Talent 2018 winning team

America’s Got Regulatory Science Talent: Call for Submissions

The Center of Excellence in Regulatory Science and Innovation is holding its Sixth Annual America’s Got Regulatory Science Talent competition on Feb. 6, 2019, from 1-2 p.m. at Pharmacy Hall.

The competition, which is open to all students, aims to promote student interest in regulatory science, which is the science of developing new tools, standards, and approaches to assess the safety, efficacy, quality, and performance of U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-regulated products.

Students can participate as individuals or as a team and will have to present a proposed solution to a current opportunity in regulatory science. Presentations will be evaluated by a panel of judges from the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy and the FDA in terms of proposed solution and presentation quality.

Registration deadline for participation is Jan. 30.

Learn more about the competition.

Erin MerinoEducation, TechnologyDecember 6, 20180 comments
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Protect your valuables

Protect Your Valuables

Be mindful of your valuables by remaining alert. Keep items such as purses, electronics, and money out of sight. If you are traveling with important items such as your cellphone and wallet, strategically house them in inside pockets and avoid using your cellphone in transit.

Also, take the extra steps in your routine to remain safe. Before leaving your vehicle, make sure your windows are rolled up completely and valuables are stored under the seat, in the glove compartment, or in the trunk of your car.

For more safety tips, visit this UMB Police and Public Safety webpage.

Jennie RiveraEducation, University LifeDecember 5, 20180 comments
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Hello ... Hola on chalkboard

Spanish Language Conversation Group Meeting on Dec. 7

The Spanish Language Conversation Group will meet Friday, Dec. 7, from 12:15 p.m. to 1:15 pm. at the School of Social Work, Room 2310.

The group will be joined for the first part of the meeting by guest speaker Amy Greensfelder, who will talk about her work as executive director of the Pro Bono Counseling Project of Maryland and will offer information about volunteer opportunities and advanced clinical field placement opportunities for social workers. The meeting will include some time afterward for discussion in Spanish.

There will be light snacks provided, so please bring your lunch.

For questions, please email Katie  at kgolden@umaryland.edu.

Katie GoldenClinical Care, Collaboration, Community Service, Education, People, UMB News, University LifeDecember 3, 20180 comments
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Woman with several shopping bags

Avoid Becoming a Holiday Crime Victim

The holiday season is one of the busiest traveling and shopping times of the year. In the midst of all the activities — and distractions — it is easy to let your guard down and overlook signs of danger. Consider some of the most popular tips on holiday crime prevention:

  • Don’t overload your arms with packages and bags. This can easily make you vulnerable to criminals, as you are unable to defend yourself.
  • Have your key ready when approaching your vehicle and home.
  • If a charity or fundraiser refuses to provided detailed information about its mission, identity, costs, and how the donation will be used, it is most likely a scam.

There are many holiday tips that may save you from being a victim of holiday crime.

For more information, look at these holiday crime prevention tips.

Jennie RiveraEducation, University LifeNovember 30, 20180 comments
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Dr. Perman talks at the TEDx UMB event

TEDx Event Amplifies UMB’s Cutting-Edge Innovations

The audience seated in an intimate ballroom at the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) turned its attention to a small stage at the front of the room. The stage filled with red light as Nadine M. Finigan-Carr, PhD, MS, a research associate professor at the University of Maryland School of Social Work, entered from behind a black curtain off to the right.

“I am a P-H-Diva,” Finigan-Carr declared. “I study sex, drugs, and rock ’n’ roll, and I’m here to tell you about the perfect combination of the three: child sex trafficking.” And with that, Finigan-Carr began her TEDx talk titled Child Prostitutes Don’t Exist, which discussed the topic of minors being manipulated and trafficked for sex.

Her riveting talk was part of TEDx University of Maryland, Baltimore (TEDx UMB), an inaugural, day-long event for the University put on through TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design), a nonprofit organization devoted to “ideas worth spreading.” The goal of a TEDx program is to carry out TED’s mission in local communities around the world through a series of live speakers and recorded TED Talks.

On Nov. 9, 10 speakers from the UMB community took the stage to share their innovative ideas across a wide scope of subject areas united under a single theme culled from the University’s mission statement: Improving the Human Condition. Each speaker approached the theme from a unique perspective informed by life, work, and experience. This brought forth an engaging mix of topics ranging from pioneering augmented reality in the operating room to exploring a middle ground in gender beyond just male and female.

(View a photo gallery.)

“All of the speakers are passionate about the work they are doing,” explains Roger J. Ward, EdD, JD, MSL, MPA, UMB’s senior vice president for operations and institutional effectiveness and a member of the committee that organized TEDx UMB. “As an institution for health and human services, UMB conducts a multitude of cutting-edge research and education and we’re always looking for platforms to amplify our work.”

UMB’s cutting-edge research certainly was demonstrated by TEDx UMB speaker Samuel A. Tisherman, MD, FACS, FCCM, a professor of surgery at the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM), with his talk: A Cool Way to Save Dying Trauma Patients.

Tisherman discussed the idea of using EPR (Emergency Preservation and Resuscitation) on patients with severe traumatic injuries like gunshot or stab wounds to help stave off death during surgery. The innovative medical technique involves pumping the human body with cold saline (a saltwater solution used for resuscitation) to lower a dying patient’s body temperature to a hypothermic state. This slows the patients’ need for oxygen and blood flow, giving surgeons more time to perform life-saving operations.

“There’s this dogma in surgery that hypothermia is bad, but I would have to disagree,” Tisherman told the audience. “There are numerous reports of patients having cold water drowning, but they survived after being under water for over an hour. Think about that for a second. You’re underwater, can’t breathe, but your body cools fast enough so that your brain, your heart, and other organs are protected, and you can actually survive for over an hour.”

EPR is currently in human trials at the R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center. If it continues to be successful, EPR potentially could lead to reduced mortality rates in trauma centers around the world, which fits right into TEDx UMB’s theme of Improving the Human Condition.

Mary J. Tooey, MLS, AHIP, FMLA, associate vice president for Academic Affairs and executive director of UMB’s Health Sciences and Human Services Library, served as emcee for the day, and UMB President Jay A. Perman, MD, kicked off the proceedings with his talk, No Money, No Mission. Perman discussed how he learned to balance empathy with good business practices from his parents while growing up in their family-owned dry cleaning business in Chicago. Perman explained how he has put that lesson to use as a pediatric gastrienterologist and as the president of a university that produces hundreds of millions of dollars worth of groundbreaking research and innovations every year.

The day continued with more compelling and thought-provoking discussions. Russell McClain, JD ’95, an associate professor and associate dean at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law, used the back of a cereal box to demonstrate and launch a discussion about implicit bias and stereotype threat; Luana Colloca, MD, PhD, MS, an associate professor at the University of Maryland School of Nursing and at UMSOM, explored the idea of using the brain’s own power as a solution to the opioid crisis; and Jenny Owens, ScD, MS, the faculty executive director of UMB’s Graduate Research Innovation District (the Grid), delivered a talk about her passion project, Hosts for Humanity, an organization that connects families and friends of children traveling to receive medical care with volunteer hosts offering accommodations in their homes.

“I think events like TEDx are really encouraging,” Owens said. “Seeing all of the amazing work people are doing and how much time and commitment they’re putting into making the world a better place is really inspiring, and I hope it inspires people to go out there and get to work on their own ideas.”

Although each speaker at TEDx UMB was part of the UMB community, their audience was not limited to the 100 people seated in the ballroom. The event was livestreamed on YouTube to a global audience, allowing its outreach and engagement to go far beyond the local community.

“There are so many talented people doing important work here at UMB,” said John Palinski, MPA, a philanthropy officer at UMB and a member of the TEDx planning committee. “TEDx is a bit of education in just reminding people who we are by projecting to the world all the wonderful things that are happening here.”

Members of UMB’s TEDx planning committee hope that this year is just the beginning of an annual event that showcases UMB’s commitment to sparking deep discussions and spreading innovative ideas to improve humanity.

“I am so pleased with this year’s event and I’m already excited for next year,” concluded Palinski.

Jena FrickCollaboration, Education, People, Research, Technology, UMB News, University Administration, University Life, USGANovember 14, 20180 comments
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Students at health challenge with Dr. Perman and others

Taking Home the Gold at D.C. Public Health Case Challenge

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on Inside SOP, the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy’s blog. It is reprinted here with permission.

Each year, the National Academy of Medicine (NAM) hosts its D.C. Public Health Case Challenge to promote interdisciplinary, problem-based learning that focuses on an important public health issue facing the Washington, D.C., community. Students from all universities in the D.C. area are invited to participate in the competition, but teams must be interprofessional, and include five to six members from at least three different disciplines.

I first learned about the competition in 2017, when I read about the winning team’s proposal to address adverse childhood events from lead poisoning — a serious issue, particularly in Baltimore City. This year, the topic of the challenge was “Reducing Disparities in Cancer and Chronic Disease: Preventing Tobacco Use in African- American Adolescents.” I knew that I wanted to participate in the challenge and was very fortunate to be recruited by Gregory Carey, PhD, associate professor in microbiology and immunology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and the faculty advisor for the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) team.

In addition to myself, Carey recruited Jennifer Breau and Erin Teigen from the School of Social Work, McMillan Ching and Dominique Earland from the School of Medicine, and Adrienne Thomas from the Francis King Carey School of Law to round out our team. We set to work as soon as we received the case. We were given two weeks and a hypothetical $2.5 million budget to spend over five years to develop a solution to this complex problem, which was presented to a panel of expert judges during the NAM Annual Meeting in October.

Taking the Road Less Traveled

Working together, our team devised a multi-tiered approach that leveraged arts and sports programming to engage middle school students as well as health promotion courses to empower members of the community to make good health care decisions. We titled our proposal “D.C. Health Passport Project,” and employed a community-based participatory research approach to build the program and a mobile app to measure community participation. Data from the app was used to assess community empowerment and incentivize participation in the program.

Our idea was inspired by UMB’s CURE Scholars Program, which recruits health profession students to mentor middle schoolers while also teaching them about better health care practices. We developed a photovoice curriculum for the arts component, which would allow students to capture elements of tobacco use in their communities and how it affected them. At the end of the program, students would have the opportunity to share their project with family, friends, city council members, and legislators.

In addition, understanding that physical activity can help protect children against certain cancers as they age and reduce stress, we included a basketball league into our weekday activities, with a tournament at the end of the season. To include all members of the family — since we know that teens are most influenced by the people closest to them — we incorporated smoking cessation courses to be held at local recreation centers, along with health screenings, health literacy courses, and employment resources. We also incorporated different elements to address societal barriers — such as access to healthy food or impoverished living conditions — that might prevent some individuals from making healthy decisions.

Our goal was to develop a non-traditional approach to addressing health inequities outside of the health care system to show that such solutions can have an indelible impact on communities, as we saw this year in an article published in the New England Journal of Medicine that highlighted a six-month study of a pharmacist-led intervention in black barbershops that was shown to reduce blood pressure among 66 percent of African-American participants in the intervention group (compared to 11 percent in the control group).

Coming Home with the Gold

It was an interesting experience to work so closely with a team of students that I had not met prior to participating in this challenge. Over the two weeks of the case, we spent more than 15 hours brainstorming and strategizing together. It was an incredible team-building experience, and when we were announced as the winners of this year’s competition, I could not have been more thrilled.

As a student pharmacist, I was truly honored to have played a part on the winning team, because I saw participating in this competition as an opportunity to showcase the creativity that our profession can bring to addressing some of our region’s most critical health challenges. Pharmacists should be an integral part of any team that aims to create personal and societal solutions for health disparities. In 2010, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Commission to Build a Healthier America noted that medical care can only prevent 10-15 percent of preventable deaths. Helping to address rising drug costs, medication adherence, unhealthy lifestyles, environmental factors, and the health care infrastructure are just a few of the ways in which pharmacists could intervene as members of the health care team.

Recognizing the Pharmacist’s Value

Pharmacists have the power and the capability to change how Americans interact with the health care system. Being part of the grand prize-winning team at this year’s D.C. Public Health Case Challenge affirmed to me that we are creative thinkers who are well-equipped to partner with other health care professionals to address the challenge of health care reform. I hope to be part of this ever-expanding field as I move forward in my career.

— Chigo Oguh, third-year PharmD/MPH dual-degree student

 

 

Chigo OguhCollaboration, Education, USGANovember 14, 20180 comments
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MS in Health and Social Innovation

Earn a Master’s in Health and Social Innovation

The University of Maryland Graduate School is launching an MS in Health and Social Innovation program to challenge students to explore and apply principles of innovation, entrepreneurship, and design thinking to solve complex health and social challenges.

An online info session will be held Dec. 10 from 1 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. Sign up here.

Interested students can apply now at this webpage.

lcortinaEducation, Research, UMB News, University LifeNovember 13, 20180 comments
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The President's Message-November

The President’s Message

Check out the November issue of The President’s Message. It includes:

  • Dr. Perman’s column on UMB leadership’s 10-day trip to Asia
  • A look back at Founders Week
  • UMB Police launch COAST outreach team
  • A new cohort of CURE Scholars dons white coats
  • First piece of public art at UMB unveiled
  • Then-Baltimore Police spokesman T.J. Smith joins White Paper discussion on gun violence
  • A look ahead to the UMB TEDx event (Nov. 9) and Barbara Mikulski’s visit (Nov. 27)
  • A roundup of student, faculty, and staff achievements and a call for Board of Regents’ Staff Award nominations
Chris ZangABAE, Bulletin Board, Clinical Care, Collaboration, Community Service, Contests, Education, For B'more, People, Research, UMB News, University Life, USGANovember 9, 20180 comments
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Group shot of Class of 2022 pharmacy students

White Coat Ceremony Welcomes Class of 2022 to Pharmacy Profession

Family and friends joined faculty, staff, and alumni of the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy on Oct. 26 to watch as the 130 members of the Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) Class of 2022 donned a pharmacist’s white coat for the first time during the school’s White Coat Ceremony. A tradition in which schools of pharmacy across the country participate each year, the annual ceremony celebrates the start of the class’ journey as student pharmacists.

“The White Coat Ceremony is an opportunity for faculty, staff, and alumni at the school to welcome and congratulate you — our new first-year students — on the journey that you are beginning, and to validate your presence among us as student pharmacists and future colleagues,” said Natalie D. Eddington, PhD, FCP, FAAPS, dean and professor of the School of Pharmacy. “The white coat represents your past and current leadership endeavors and achievements, as well as your commitment to deliver the best care to your future patients. Wear it with pride and remember your responsibility to provide honest and accurate information to those in your care.”

From Professional Figure Skater to Student Pharmacist

Seated in the audience, first-year student pharmacist Arissa Falat reflected on her journey to reach this special day.

Born and raised in Columbia, Md., Falat discovered her passion for science at an early age. She knew that she wanted to pursue a career in health care and took the first step toward achieving her goal by completing her Bachelor of Science in biochemistry and molecular biology at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC). As an undergraduate, Falat proved herself a star pupil, graduating summa cum laude with a 4.0 GPA and earning numerous awards in recognition of her academic excellence, and demonstrated superior skill as a student researcher, conducting research in the lab of Katherine Seley-Radtke, PhD, professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at UMBC, for which she received the UMBC Undergraduate Research Award for 2017-2018.

Yet, the demands of her undergraduate coursework, research, and extracurricular activities could not prevent her from achieving another feat of which most people can only dream — passing the highest-level national tests in each of three different disciplines to become a U.S. figure skating triple gold medalist.

“I attribute much of my resilience and self-discipline to growing up as a figure skater,” says Falat, who began skating at the age of four and has performed in more than 130 figure skating shows and countless other skating competitions. “For me, figure skating has always provided an essential balance between the rigors of a demanding academic schedule and the release of that mental tension. On the ice, my focus shifts between the physics of how to land a new jump and enjoying the short-lived feeling of defying gravity.”

After investigating a number of careers in the health care field, Falat found it was pharmacy that perfectly combined her enthusiasm for science with her desire to make an impact on patients’ lives. Equipped with that knowledge, she knew the next step she would need to take to achieve her goal: applying to the Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) program at the School of Pharmacy.

“With its reputation for academic excellence, cutting-edge research, and tremendous professional development opportunities, I knew that the School of Pharmacy would be the best place for me to continue my education,” Falat says. “When I finally received my letter of acceptance, I was thrilled, because it represented a moment that I had been wishfully working towards for many years.”

The Journey to Becoming Professional Pharmacists

The theme for this year’s White Coat Ceremony was professionalism, and Falat listened intently as Eddington continued her remarks, highlighting the importance of this critical concept.

“Professionalism encompasses a variety of characteristics — altruism, duty, honor, integrity, and respect,” she said. “It is the cornerstone of who we are as pharmacists. Once you embrace this concept, you truly become a student pharmacist.”

Brandon Keith, PharmD ’15, clinical coordinator pharmacist for solid organ transplant at Johns Hopkins Outpatient Pharmacy, served as guest speaker for the event. In addition to reflecting on his experience as a student pharmacist at the school, Keith offered four key pieces of advice to first-year students: be open, be mindful, be the best, and be present.

“Enjoy the journey,” Keith said. “These are the years that you will fondly remember — I know I do. The years to form connections with your peers; to laugh so hard, you cry; and to actually cry when you take that first pharmacotherapy exam. But, know that all of the people around you will be going through that experience with you. Your peers will be here with you. Your mentors will be here to help support you. Everyone in this audience is wishing you the best along this journey, and will be here to help guide you along the way.”

Embarking on the Next Phase of Their Lives

After crossing the stage to don their white coats, Falat and her peers recited the school’s Pledge of Professionalism, committing themselves to building and reinforcing a professional identity founded on integrity, ethical behavior, and honor.

“Having spent time with my peers both inside and outside of the classroom, I have heard countless stories that exemplify each person’s unique strengths,” Falat says. “It is incredibly poignant that these differences have culminated in one beautiful, shared passion — a passion to serve others as practicing pharmacists. Receiving our white coats today not only symbolizes our dedication to practice pharmacy, but also our desire to continuously improve our profession for future generations.”

And, while Falat knows the next four years will challenge her in ways that she cannot comprehend now, she rests assured that her training as a professional figure skater and coach has prepared her well to overcome any obstacle she might encounter. “Training for months and having a bad skate in a competition is tough, but years of picking myself up from the ice, sometimes hundreds of times a day, have taught me that blisters will heal and bruises will fade,” she says.

— Malissa Carroll

(Watch a video about the White Coat Ceremony)

 

Malissa CarrollEducation, UMB News, University LifeNovember 9, 20180 comments
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