Wingate program partners with Presbyterian Hospital Matthews
Wingate University student Heeta Vibhakar almost didn’t go into pharmacy. The 24-year-old had been fascinated with molecules since high school, but a family tradition of dentistry had Vibhakar on the path to working with teeth.
“Then I realized I didn’t want to work with teeth,” Vibhakar said. “This fit me better based on the chemistry and the math.”
This would be Wingate University’s partnership with Presbyterian Hospital Matthews, a program that helps train pharmacy students by hands on experiences, working with doctors at the hospital, going on rounds with them and building up case studies, to be presented at the end of their rotation. The program has been in place since July 2006, with students spending three to four hours a day, for three days a week, working at the hospital.
“When I began at Wingate University School of Pharmacy, I started with only classroom instruction,” Dr. Robert Barrons said. “However, throughout the pharmacy program, experiential instruction is a foundation in preparing our graduates for future pharmacy practice. Robert Supernaw (the Dean), Lisa Smith (head of Advanced Experiential instruction at the time), and I approached pharmacy and medical administrators at Presbyterian Hospital in Matthews and they agreed to partner with us. Now my job is divided between activities at the hospital (half-days) and those at the school.”
A brush with a hurricane helped Barrons make the decision to take the job at Wingate. The professor had been working in New Orleans for 12 years when Hurricane Katrina hit. After the storm, he repaired his house and put it up on the market, looking for a new place to teach. At the same time, Wingate had announced plans for the new pharmacy partnership, which was similar to what Barrons had been working on at Tulane University Hospital.
“I’m doing something similar to what I was doing in New Orleans and with the opportunities with a new school, I saw nothing but a win-win,” Barrons said.
Most schools of pharmacy involve an experiential component in their fourth year only, Barrons said. Wingate meanwhile has an experiential component starting from their first year and then every year after. By the beginning of their third year, students spend 120 hours over two 5 week periods with physicians in hospital and clinic settings to experience where they may practice.
“(Barrons) teaches the stude nts everything from accessing a chart to how to see a chart, to participating in physician rounds,” Jennifer Hissam, Presbyterian Hospital Matthews pharmacy manager, said. “The students also present a case at the end of the month, to our whole pharmacy team. It’s educational to us, it gets them practice on presenting.”
Hissam said anytime the hospital has a difficult case, they bring in the students now so that the class can learn how to tackle more complicated assignments.
A normal day for the pharmacy students starts at 8 a.m., when they go through the patient list database.
“We’re responsible for pulling up (a list) of the patients on the fourth floor,” student Andy Hayes said. “We each select a couple of patients (and) we find out a little about them.”
Hayes said that students identify a patient’s chief complaint, then determine if it was brought on by medication or other drugs.
“What Dr. Barrons has been teaching us is how to look for these things, determine how the patient is being managed, how comfortable the patient is (and) are things working?” Hayes said.
The 36-year-old came to Wingate after deciding that he wanted a change. Originally, he graduated from Appalachian State with an eye towards business, but five years working in upper management for a pool company made him look for another field.
“I realized this is not what I want to do,” Hayes said. “I’ve always been fascinated by molecules and animal venoms. I figured pharmacy would be the most logical route.”
Third year students will finish their training by the end of the semester. During the summer, students ready to complete their doctorate will take over, wrapping up their final year of study.