is the mission of your organization?
The College of Pharmacy of Nova Southeastern University (NSU) is dedicated to educating students to assume roles as competent and ethical professionals in a dynamic health care environment. The curriculum provides professional degree students with the knowledge, skills and attitudes essential to the delivery of pharmaceutical care while promoting dedication to lifelong learning. Graduate programs cultivate the research and leadership skills necessary for successful careers in academia, industry or government agencies. Educational opportunities are provided to a diverse group of students on campus and at distant sites through the use of innovative technology. The College of Pharmacy serves the profession and the public interest through excellence in teaching, research, scholarship, and service; thereby achieving distinction as a premier College of Pharmacy.
I would like others to know more about the unique characteristics of our program, rather than our "organization." We developed a new course from scratch to meet the "service-learning" requirements of our accrediting body. While the literature may argue that what we're doing isn't service-learning, I would counter by saying that our course contains ALL of the elements found in most service-learning definitions. Most importantly, through our partnerships our students are learning to become professionals who understand people and the community while meeting the mission of the College of Pharmacy.
Our program has been designed outside of the box! Students choose from sites such as the Cooperative Feeding Program (where they work with volunteers in a kitchen to feed the hungry), the Red Cross, the Broward Mental Health Association, an elementary school, a non-traditional high school, First Call for Help, and a magnet high school program for medicine. Our students have written grants and are being trained as case workers. At each site they expect that they will learn important skills and have opportunities to develop professional and communication skills. In the classroom the students use the tools of service-learning to reflect upon professionalism, diversity and individual growth in understanding human nature. It is my hope that when they become professional pharmacists they will understand that sometimes a person doesn't buy their medications because they aren't able to afford them, not because they don't want to.
I am passionate about training future health care professionals/pharmacists to be well rounded individuals. I am passionate about improving the practice of pharmacy. I want students to learn that while we might be the "drug experts" we have to remember that we take care of human beings. I have long been involved in community and national organizations. When I was given the task of developing a service-learning course for my department, it was exciting to think that I could integrate my responsibilities at the university with the needs of the community as a whole. It is a lot of fun for me as a faculty member to work with the community; it isn't just the students and community members who benefit from our partnerships!
I hope that NSU will be considered a leader among health professions schools in service-learning and community partnerships in addition to being a respected School of Pharmacy. Over the last five years our partnerships have evolved to the point where I believe we are TRUE partners. As a faculty member, I sometimes feel that the community partners do more than I can ever do, but I try to be an equal partner. Our program will continue to work with the community partners to find ways to disseminate information, assess outcomes and support the growth of community partnerships with other colleges in the region.
I would also like to see the development of a formal service-learning course for credit using the contacts and strides we've already made on several medical missions to Jamaica. Over the last few summers I've joined a group of 80 people for a 10-day medical mission to Jamaica. This past summer the group included two attending pharmacists, five physicians, four dentistry faculty, and three optometry faculty. The rest were students. The students worked in teams and learned things in this environment that they would never learn in the classroom. They learned to be creative and that everything in life does not go according the directions given on a box or in a textbook. They learned to become problem solvers. Because the team was interdisciplinary, people on the mission weren't stuck in their roles. I can't tell you how important it was for these students to interact with other health professions. They learn the value of these professionals firsthand and it shows them how to collaborate in the future.
Many faculty and administrators in a science/fact oriented world of health education professionals, feel that service to the community is a warm fuzzy we can't or shouldn't afford in the education of our students. If the goal is to turn out pharmacists or health care professionals who can only treat disease, then service-learning does not belong in our curriculum. If the goal is to develop health care professionals who treat patients, who understand that treating disease is treating the whole person, and who promote health and wellness, then service-learning must be included and given as much credibility as basic science courses.
Words of reflection to colleagues:
It requires time in the beginning to start a service-learning course,
and to develop partnerships. Communication and investment and believing
in what you do are key components to success in service-learning courses.
Patience is a virtue. While encouraging administrations and city leaders
to work together, be diligent in not losing sight of the individual goals
of the people involved. Push for improvement, figure it will come slowly
and surely. Push for commitment; know it is a two-way street. Be creative
and live by the old adage "where there is a will, there is a way".
Be a great spirit not a mediocre mind.
I believe that one of the biggest challenges is how to assess and disseminate the information and the knowledge I have gained while developing our service-learning course. I find another challenge is that while a partnership is a two-way street, I don't seem to have enough time to devote my fair share. To overcome this "needing to be in too many places and only one of me" problem, I am working with the Education College on campus to leverage the resources of students who are seeking a Doctor of Education degree. While mentoring these students in their research projects, I can develop a bigger web and hopefully increase my "part" in the "partnerships".
Because it's not possible for you to travel to every program site and personally evaluate the quality of the work that is going on around the country, it is often difficult to make funding decisions. Based on my experience on the frontlines of health professions education, I advise that you continue to fund institutions like the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS). CNCS supports organizations like CCPH that are capable of doing so much with just a modest amount of resources. The great number of communities and campuses affected by CCPH programs speaks volumes about its value.
I joined CCPH because I didn't know what I was doing. I needed to find people who were in the same boat as me; other people who had learned things that I needed to learn; people who had already developed strategies; people who were the thought leaders. It worked! I have found a great network of people in CCPH including the Executive Director, staff and members.
The organization is open to all who are want to learn, share and develop service-learning and promote change. The organization is structured to nurture and support programs at the individual (i.e., fellows and mentors), local, regional, national and global levels.
It means we're all in it together!
Through my membership in CCPH I have found mentors and friends. CCPH as an organization has given me the opportunity to be involved at a national level promoting service-learning and bringing others in the health care profession to a new understanding of service-learning and community partnerships. On the organizational level, CCPH provides information about national policy meetings, trainings and research interests. I am able to pass much of this information onto my peers at NSU with specific interests. The service-learning institutes offered by CCPH are invaluable in that they offer time to concentrate on the improvement of programs. One of our community partners is now a CCPH fellow. I believe that CCPH has helped me improve my relationship with our partners. That is probably the most beneficial part of my membership. I plan on being a lifetime member of CCPH!
I believe that one of my strengths is that I will try most anything. I believe in being a "great spirit".
For more information please contact:
For a recent publication co-authored by Ruth Nemire see below:
Pharmacy Clerkship Manual: A Survival Manual for Students
This guide provides real patient data to help
you develop therapeutic problem-solving skills and sharpen your knowledge
of the appropriate use of medications. The only pharmacy clerkship guide
that provides case presentations, it helps with every rotation you'll
have, from first to final.
To read about other previous featured members click here.