Dr. Folds Receives Grant for Behavioral Health Internship Program

Leslie Folds HeadshotAssociate Professor in the School of Nursing Dr. Leslie Folds recently received funding from the Tennessee Hospital Association and the National Student Nurses’ Association for a grant she submitted. The $16,000 grant will fund a Behavioral Health Internship Program for undergraduate nursing students next summer.

The project will aim to address current shortages of behavioral health nurses by exposing students to behavioral health settings with various patient populations and units. In partnership with Belmont’s colleagues at TriStar Health, students will complete 248 hours of hands-on, dynamic clinical rotations among multiple areas of mental health care at TriStar Centennial Medical Center-Parthenon Pavilion and TriStar Skyline Madison.

Folds will begin planning recruitment and enrollment with students beginning the program summer 2018.

College of Pharmacy Names Dr. David Gregory as New Dean

David Gregory Head Shot

Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

Dr. David Gregory, current associate dean of academic affairs at the University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy, has been named as the new dean of Belmont University’s College of Pharmacy. Gregory will succeed founding dean Dr. Phil Johnston, who was recently promoted to a new position as Belmont’s vice provost for academic affairs. Gregory, a native of Nashville, will begin his new position on Belmont’s campus Feb. 1.

Belmont Provost Dr. Thomas Burns said, “As the founding dean of Belmont Pharmacy, Dr. Phil Johnston brought tremendous success and professionalism to the college throughout his decade-long service, and I am grateful that his new position enables all academic areas of the University to benefit from his experience and approach. Securing his replacement required a thorough national search of top candidates, and I couldn’t be more thrilled with the appointment of Dr. David Gregory. His familiarity with Nashville’s healthcare community and his extensive credentials as a practicing pharmacist and educator make him a perfect and seamless fit for our program. Moreover, his commitment to developing compassionate caregivers who will excel at pharmacy practice gives me immense confidence in the future of Belmont Pharmacy.”

Gregory added, “I am honored to be joining the team at Belmont to continue to advance the profession of pharmacy in an ever changing healthcare marketplace. Belmont’s focus on faith and service aligns well with my personal mission to develop pharmacists that are highly knowledgeable and have a transcendent cause in the care of their patients.”

As the chief academic and executive officer for Belmont’s College of Pharmacy, Gregory will be responsible for the programmatic leadership, financial management, personnel administration and planning and development for the approximately 300 students and 29 faculty who make up the college.

In his current role as an associate dean at Ole Miss, Gregory’s responsibilities include leadership of approximately 800 students in both the pre-professional and professional degree programs of the School of Pharmacy along with strategic and visionary planning in the ongoing development of policies, programs, curriculum and clinical practice that align with the educational mission of the School. He oversees daily operations regarding key infrastructure components related to human resources, purchasing, financial management and student support services, and he creates an academic environment of excellence that fosters student growth both professionally and personally while increasing the visibility, advancement and recognition of the School of Pharmacy.

Gregory earned a bachelor’s of science and a Doctor of Pharmacy degree from the University of Mississippi. Prior to joining Ole Miss in 2013, Gregory spent a significant portion of his career in Nashville with positions of increasing responsibility with Vanderbilt University Medical Center. From 2008-2013, he served as VUMC’s director of pharmacy for education, drug policy, research and clinical pharmacy services within the Department of Pharmaceutical Services. During his time in Nashville, Dr. Gregory also contributed time to the Belmont College of Pharmacy External Advisory Committee.

In addition to his professional duties, he also currently serves as an accreditation surveyor for the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE) and is a member of the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) Workforce and Education Council. He received the 2009 University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy’s Distinguished Alumnus Award, the 2011 Belmont University College of Pharmacy Professional Stewardship Award and the 1997 Vanderbilt Hospital Pharmacist of the Year Award, among other accolades.

About the Belmont College of Pharmacy
Situated in the health care capital of the world, Belmont University’s College of Pharmacy is dedicated to rigorous and purposeful teaching, scholarship, service and leadership. The College develops pharmacists prepared to meet the demands of an evolving and contemporary practice as 95 percent of spring 2017 graduates recently passed the North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination. With five areas of specialized concentration including pharmacotherapy, information management, pharmacy management, pharmacy missions/public health and a PharmD/MBA program, students have the opportunity to tailor their education to their unique passions. Faculty dedicated to student success, state-of-the-art classrooms, laboratories, simulation rooms, drug information center and a student-run, working pharmacy combine to create a collaborative educational space where students can learn skills while further developing their pharmacy interests.

College of Pharmacy Healthcare Informatics Students Create Artificial Intelligence Software for Amazon Alexa

Belmont University College of Pharmacy third-year students Dominic Paolella, David Luong, Abdul Mohammed Jonathan Ashton and Aziz Afzali recently undertook the challenge of developing a new and exciting telepharmacy access point for patients on the mend, understanding the importance of patients recovering in their own homes. In recent years, a growing body of scientific evidence suggests that patient recovery is more successful when they transition from dedicated healthcare facilities like hospitals, nursing homes and assisted living facilities into their own homes. But many patients require help to facilitate the change.

Amazon Alexa is a new artificially intelligent platform for accessing information and interacting with objects in the home including lights, music and medical devices. As part of the Introduction to Healthcare Informatics III and Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experiential (APPE) classes in the Doctor of Pharmacy curriculum at Belmont University, each student developed a voice activated application, or “skill” for the Alexa platform. The skills can be downloaded and activated on demand, answering drug information questions with accurate medical information.

While enrolled in the College of Pharmacy, students discuss diseases states and the appropriate medication regimens for each. They are also trained to apply and communicate that knowledge to other healthcare providers and their patients. “As student pharmacists, we are trained to be experts in medication and disease state management.” said Paolella. “The Alexa platform offered us an opportunity to extend our patient care mission.”

Alexa’s artificial intelligence allows counseling to be taken out of the pharmacy and into the patient’s living room. This is especially beneficial when a home care nurse is not available. “In these cases, it would be convenient to have a small, inexpensive device at home which could be a conduit for patients to access answers to their healthcare questions at home and on-demand,” said Ashton.

Belmont’s sponsor of the Amazon Alexa Developer Initiative is Assistant Professor of Healthcare Informatics and Analytics Dr. Anthony Blash. To prepare student pharmacists in the healthcare informatics concentration to become future leaders in healthcare informatics, Blash has created a four-course sequence and one month intensive experiential rotations. “Through our partnership with Amazon, we are exploring new ways to provide telepharmacy services in innovative and inexpensive ways to large segments of the population,” Blash said.

Student pharmacists’ skills include:

  • Paolella, who was the first to receive Amazon certification with his skill “Lisinopril”
  • Luong, who created a skill called “Cephalexin”
  • Mohammed, who created a skill called “Fluconazole”
  • Ashton, who developed a skill called “DrugInfo3”
  • Afzail, who developed “Asthma Device Helper”

DrugInfo3 allows the user to ask about generic names of antibiotics to gather pertinent information for more than 35 antibiotics including ciprofloxacin, erythromycin and isoniazid. Asthma Device Helper provides step-by-step patient counseling on proper use of many common asthma inhalers.

“For me, the project was a proof of concept. While our project was limited to drug information, the technology could be applied to many aspects of care. There are lots of possibilities for future development with this artificial intelligence platform, and a lot of opportunities to help our patients in new and exciting ways.” said Mohammed.

For Afzali, the opportunity to focus on informatics has sparked an interest in post-graduation experiences devoted to the topic.“The Informatics Concentration allows me to combine my interests in information technology and pharmacy for the safety of patients worldwide,” he said. “I hope to continue to pursue my passion in a post-graduate informatics residency and career in Healthcare Informatics upon graduation.”

While none of these skills should replace a consultation with licensed healthcare professionals, the free skills can be accessed via the Amazon Skills store or through the Alexa app, available for Amazon Fire, Apple and Android devices. To download these skills onto Alexa, choose “Skills” from the Alexa app menu and search for the skill by name.