Are you interested in gaining and strengthening your leadership skills while completing pharmacy school? If so, the UCSOP Fellows Program would be a great opportunity to consider. Upon acceptance to UCSOP, students with a 3.25 undergraduate GPA and a 50 or better on the PCAT, are invited to apply and interview for this scholarship and leadership program. Ten students from the incoming class of student pharmacists are selected to participate each year.
In order to be eligible to interview for the program, students must meet the GPA and PCAT requirements and score well during their on campus admissions interview. Only students interviewing for admission prior to December 2014 are eligible.
If these criteria are met, admitted students are invited to complete an essay on one of several topics offered, and a phone interview with a faculty or staff member and a current Fellow. Once these activities have been completed, the admission subcommittee reviews all information to make their recommendations to the Dean. The Dean then notifies students receiving acceptance into Fellows Program.
As a Fellow you will have numerous opportunities to enhance your leadership skills. These opportunities include, but are not limited to: assisting at interview days and open houses for prospective students, attending state pharmacy conferences, participating in leadership luncheons, and completing a group research project. One of the more difficult requirements to continue membership in the Fellows Program is to maintain a culumative grade point average of 3.25 or higher during your time at UCSOP. To be eligible for the funding portion of the program, these requirements must be completed. The $15,000 scholarship is divided into two disbursements (December and May) and is awarded at the end of the semester after verification of the completion of requirements and GPA.
As mentioned, one of the requirements to be a Pharmacy Fellow is to complete a research project. Below we have shared information regarding the two recent research projects that are being completed by the current Fellows.
Fellows Project 1: Pseudoephedrine Survey –One of the ongoing Fellows research projects is a survey of pharmacists and pharmacy students about pseudoephedrine sales. As you may know, pseudoephedrine is a key ingredient in methamphetamine, and there has been a great deal of debate about whether or not it should be sold over-the-counter. It is an especially dire problem in West Virginia. In 2013 alone, West Virginia law enforcement shut down 530 meth labs. Another 207 have been seized by July of this year alone. Prominent pharmacy chains such as CVS and Rite-Aid have already discontinued sales of single-ingredient pseudoephedrine in West Virginia. There are also tamper-resistant formulations, such as Zephrex-D, that have recently become available.
The purpose of this survey is to gauge the opinions of pharmacy professionals, as well as pharmacy students, regarding over-the-counter sales of pseudoephedrine. As drug experts, it is our duty as pharmacists to lead on issues such as this, especially when they affect so many people in our state, whether directly or indirectly. Forming a consensus within the profession will then allow us to then go on to advise our legislators about the next step in combatting the methamphetamine epidemic. This survey provides only a small part of gleaning such a consensus.
Fellows Project 2: Sepsis Survey–One of the missions of the University of Charleston Pharmacy Fellows is to conduct research that can impact the health and well-being of our community. West Virginia is an overwhelmingly rural state, and many West Virginians receive emergency medical care from Critical Access hospitals. These hospitals have no more than 25 beds and must provide emergency care, be able to stabilize trauma patients and ship critically injured or grievously ill patients to larger hospitals.
Interestingly, folks in rural areas often delay seeking medical care, and when they do finally make it to the hospital they can be in worse shape than their urban counterparts. This can impact survival rates of serious conditions such as stroke, heart attack, and sepsis. Sepsis mortality is on the rise in recent years as evidenced by data presented in the following article:
Gaieski DF, Edwards JM, Kallan MJ, Carr BG. Benchmarking the incidence and mortality of severe sepsis in the United States*. Critical care medicine. 2013;41(5):1167–74. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23442987.
From the Sepsis Mortality article 2013 – “In fact, by our most conservative estimate, using the methods of Dombrovskiy et al (13), there were 229,044 deaths from severe sepsis in 2009, which would place severe sepsis as the third most common cause of death in the United States, after heart disease and malignant neoplasms.”
These data, along with the increased incidence of sepsis in rural populations shows that critical access hospitals can impact sepsis treatment in a positive and meaningful way.
Starting in the spring of 2014, supported by the West Virginia Rural Health Association, the UC Fellows embarked on a project designed to assess the effectiveness of sepsis treatment at all of West Virginia’s Critical Access Hospitals. This research is designed to identify hospitals that have sepsis order sets and treatment protocols in place, as well as assess the effectiveness of these institutions and their ability to diagnose and initiate treatment of sepsis within one hour of patient presentation.
Each of the Fellows involved in this research project received research training and received certification from the National Institute of Health (NIH). This research is currently in process, with additional data being collected during the fall of 2014. We expect to have preliminary results by December. This research will help critical access hospitals identify areas of improvement, implement proven sepsis treatment strategies, and reduce overall sepsis mortality in the state.
What our students say about the Fellows Program:
My name is Sarah Bostic and as a P3 Fellow I have had many opportunities to assist in activities at UCSOP. Going back in time to when I was offered admission, I almost didn’t accept the invitation to join the Fellows Program. When I received my admission letter from UCSOP, stuffed inside was the opportunity to apply for the Fellows Program. I was so excited about being accepted at UC that I forgot to complete my essay until about a week before the due date! If I hadn’t remembered, I would probably still be kicking myself for being so stupid and not applying to the program!! The Fellows Program has allowed me to be involved in ways that I never would have been on my own. For example, assisting with the interview days has allowed me the opportunity to give advice to prospective students along with hopefully relaxing the students before their interviews. It has been enlightening to have a P1 student come up to me and say “Hey, I remember you from my interview day; you gave me a tour of the building!” This opportunity has been a blessing for me over the last several years. While it has been difficult at times to manage the requirements, it has made me a better person and student. I would highly encourage you to apply if you have the opportunity.
Hi. I’m Josh Dunn. The Fellows Program has helped me to become the best pharmacy student I can possibly be. The high academic standards combined with the research/community service requirement has helped me to focus on not only learning the material presented throughout the pharmacy curriculum, but applying that knowledge in a practical way. I’ve had opportunities to network, gain valuable clinical care experience and present at state meetings. In short, it’s been awesome!
This blog post was contributed by P3 Fellows and Student Pharmacists, Sarah Bostic, Aaron Dailey, and Josh Dunn.