Pharmacy Students Earn Certification to Conduct HIV Testing

In an effort to end HIV/AIDS in Tennessee, 17 Belmont University College of Pharmacy students recently volunteered and received intensive training in HIV prevention counseling and testing. The Tennessee Department of Health certified these students who will be using their newly acquired skills to serve communities around Nashville through HIV testing, education and prevention during the annual Walgreens National HIV Testing Days event scheduled for June 23-25.

Dr. Edgar S. Diaz-Cruz is leading the initiative, first started in 2013, and has forged an ongoing partnership between the College of Pharmacy and Nashville Cares, a local non-profit that provides life-saving services to Middle Tennesseans living with HIV/AIDS. Diaz-Cruz said, “I am very proud of our students for volunteering to reach out of their comfort zones to serve the community by bringing attention to HIV/AIDS education. I believe this type of training and personal outreach exposes our students to unique experiences to better serve the public and represent BU.” Since 2013, this partnership has resulted in 44 trained individuals and hundreds of community service outreach hours serving Middle Tennessee.

Tennessee Health Care Hall of Fame Announces 2016 Inductees

Hall of Fame’s second class represents Tennessee’s greatest health and health care pioneers

The Tennessee Health Care Hall of Fame announced the six health care professionals selected as the Hall of Fame’s second class of inductees at a luncheon held on Belmont University’s campus Tuesday. With a mission to honor men and women who have made significant and lasting contributions to the health and health care industries, the Hall of Fame was created by Belmont University and the McWhorter Society and is supported by the Nashville Health Care Council, a Hall of Fame Founding Partner.

Chair of the McWhorter Society and Chairman of Medcare Investment Funds Dr. Harry Jacobson said, “This group of six individuals embodies some of the greatest talent our state has ever seen. With representatives from all corners of Tennessee who have made a significant impact on their communities through their work as leaders, practitioners, executives and scientists, the Hall of Fame is honored to name such a deserving group of health care legends as inductees.”

The nomination process began in January and was open to practitioners, executives, entrepreneurs, mentors, teachers, scientists, researchers, innovators or any person with a connection to the health or health care field. Nominees must have:

  • Been born, lived or have worked in Tennessee
  • Made a significant impact and lasting contribution to health care at the local, state, national or international level
  • Exhibit the highest ethical and professional character
  • Serve as an outstanding role model in their community

Among the more than 35 highly qualified candidates nominated, the inductees were reviewed by a Selection Committee made up of health and health care leaders from across the state. Selected inductees represent some of Tennessee’s greatest health and health care pioneers, leaders and innovators.

Inducted individuals include:

  • Jack Bovender: Retired Chairman and CEO of Hospital Corporation of America, Member of the National Health Care Hall of Fame, Credited with the rescue of patients in an HCA hospital during Hurricane Katrina
  • Dr. Stanley Cohen: Recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in medicine and physiology, Faculty Member at Washington University and Professor of Biochemistry at Vanderbilt, Completed research on epidermal growth factors that contributed to discoveries for individual cancer and immune system dysfunction therapiesDr. Colleen Conway-Welch: Dean Emerita of Vanderbilt University School of Nursing, Past Nashvillian of the Year, Served on President Reagan’s Commission on HIV Epidemic and the National Bipartisan Commissions of the Future of Medicare, Founder of Friends of the National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Nursing Research
  • Dr. Henry Foster: Professor Emeritus and Former Dean of Meharry College’s School of Medicine, Clinical Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Vanderbilt University, President Clinton’s Senior Advisor on Teen Pregnancy Reduction and youth Issues, Pioneered a national model for regionalized perinatal health care systems
  • Dr. Frank Groner: President Emeritus of Memphis’s Baptist Memorial Hospital, Commissioner of the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Hospitals, Health Consultant to the federal government
  • Dr. Paul Stanton: President Emeriti and Professor Emeriti of Surgery of East Tennessee State University, Served as a member of the Governor’s TennCare Roundtable, Assisted in conducting the first review and recommendation of changes to Tennessee’s Medicaid program

In addition to recognizing Tennessee’s most influential health and health care leaders, The Hall of Fame will serve as an on-going educational resource to document the rich history that has contributed to Tennessee’s position as a leader for national health care initiatives.

Belmont’s President Dr. Bob Fisher said, “It is widely recognized that Tennessee is a central hub for health care in the United States, and with Nashville at the helm, our community has seen many individuals and organizations take significant strides to shape and advance the industry. Meanwhile, Belmont University has taken a significant role in undergraduate, graduate and executive health care education. The induction of these members into the Tennessee Health Care Hall of Fame will help us inspire the next generation of health care leaders, while further promoting Tennessee’s booming success as the nation’s premiere health care hub.”

Created in 2015, the Hall of Fame inducted eight inaugural members last year including Dr. Thomas Frist, Jr., Dr. Thomas Frist, Sr., Dr. Ernest Goodpasture, Jack C. Massey, R. Clayton McWhorter, Dr. David Satcher, Dr. Mildred Stahlman and Danny Thomas.

College of Pharmacy Finds Success on “Match Day”

Student pharmacists and alumni claim 32 positions across the U.S.

“Match Day,” the highly anticipated moment when Belmont’s College of Pharmacy soon-to-be-graduates and alumni learn where they’ll spend the next year honing their skills and talents, was a successful day at Belmont as 32 student pharmacists and alumni heard of their acceptance to competitive residency positions across the country. About 3,000 residencies were offered for this year’s American Society of Health-Systems Pharmacists match, far fewer than the number of student pharmacists desiring a position.

College of Pharmacy Dean Dr. Phil Johnston said, “Belmont College of Pharmacy has always had an impressive match rate, which can be attributed to enhanced student awareness of career goals and faculty mentoring. It was a happy week to celebrate the success of our students and their futures.  Congratulations to the classes of 2015 and 2016.”

Graduates selected for first-year residencies include Sarah Ayers (Jackson-Madison County Hospital in Jackson, Tennessee), Candace Beam (VA Tennessee Valley Healthcare in Nashville, Tennessee), Bailey Bolten (Erlanger Health Systems in Chattanooga, Tennessee), Tyler Casey (Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee), Ricky Church (Memorial Healthcare System in Chattanooga, Tennessee), Jennifer Collins (University of Chicago Medical Center in Chicago, Illinois), Scott Denno (Tennessee Department of Mental Health in Nashville, Tennessee), Fernando Diggs (Huntsville Hospital in Huntsville, Alabama), Meredith Ervin (Birmingham VA Medical Center in Birmingham, Alabama), Chelsea Goodman (Ephriam McDowell Regional Medical Center in Danville, Kentucky), Sarah Hardeman (The Medical Center, Columbus Regional in Columbus, Georgia), Shelby Hood (Maury Regional Medical Center in Columbia, Tennessee), Joe Huenecke (University of Toledo in Toledo, Ohio), Michelle Kirchbaum (Tuscaloosa VA Medical Center in Tuscaloosa, Alabama), Jocelyn Mason (University of Minnesota Medical Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota), Quyen Nguyen (Cookeville Regional Hospital in Cookeville, Tennessee), Frederick O’Neal (Dignity Health St. Rose Dominican in Henderson, Nevada), Emily Russell (James H. Quillen VA Medical Center in Mountain Home, Tennessee), Kristen Sherlin (University of Louisville Hospital in Louisville, Kentucky), Jennifer Sposito (Parkview Health in Fort Wayne, Indiana), Sara Thompson (VA Caribbean Health Care System in San Juan, Puerto Rico), Erin Todd (Tristar Centennial Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee), Alexander Tu (National Association of Community Drug Stores), Duy Vu (Dekalb Medical Center in Decatur, Georgia), Danielle Walker (Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center in Knoxville, Tennessee), Katie Wickler (Saint Thomas Rutherford Hospital in Murfreesboro, Tennessee) and Haley Willett (Norton Healthcare in Louisville, Kentucky).

Additionally, of the 22 student pharmacists who matched last spring, five are going on to a second-year residency. Drs. Emily Doss, Meghan Duquette, Elizabeth Jasper, Jocelyn Mason and Nilam Patel will be pursuing second-year residencies in internal medicine, psychiatry (2), infectious disease and cardiology, respectively.

First-year pharmacy residencies provide post-PharmD training in health systems, managed care and community settings, while second-year residencies provide advanced training in a focused area of patient care.

Pharmacy Student receives Dr. Fannie Hewlett Award which Honors Inclusivity and Diversity

In honor of Dr. Fannie Hewlett, Belmont’s first African American graduate, the University created the inaugural Dr. Fannie Hewlett Award and bestowed it upon an undergraduate and graduate student at Wednesday’s annual Scholarship and Awards Day. The award celebrates racial and ethnic diversity by recognizing student courage, leadership and a contribution to a culture of inclusion at Belmont. Its creation is one of the many initiatives from the University’s Welcome Home Team, a committee of faculty, staff and students that explores opportunities and plans strategies to expand racial and ethnic diversity on campus.

Dr. Hewlett grew up in Bay Minette, Alabama, and decided to come to Belmont College, some 420 miles away from her home, after finding a brochure for the school in her mailbox. Though she hadn’t visited the College and didn’t know where Nashville was, she arranged for transportation and embarked on the journey of a lifetime.

After earning her Bachelor of Science in Psychology and English from Belmont in 1970, Hewlett went on to earn her Master of Arts in Clinical and School Psychology from Fisk University in 1975 and her Doctorate in Educational Administration and Supervision from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville in 1990. Most recently, Hewlett served as the interim president at Chattanooga State Community College.

Chair of the Welcome Home Team, Vice President and Chief of Staff Dr. Susan West said the University was honored to recognize Dr. Hewlett through the creation of this award. “The Dr. Fannie Hewlett Award celebrates Dr. Hewlett by honoring students who have followed in her footsteps to make powerful change on our campus. It is our privilege to remember the legacy she left at Belmont for many years to come.”

Dr. Hewlett returned to campus in October 2015 for the Welcome Home Team’s inaugural Diversity Week, a week created to celebrate the University’s diversity and inclusivity efforts. While on campus, Hewlett gave a presentation to faculty, staff and students and said, “The people I have met here are the people who have helped me to become what I have become today. For that, I am eternally grateful.”

The Dr. Fannie Hewlett Award will continue to be awarded during the University’s Scholarship and Awards Day each year. For West, the creation of this award is a testament to the great things transpiring on Belmont’s campus. “It means we’re acknowledging our past and taking important steps in the areas of racial and ethnic diversity and inclusion. It further recognizes the essential conversations that are happening in our boardrooms, classrooms and dorm rooms, and Welcome Home Team is honored to assist in facilitating those conversations.”

This year’s award recipients were Tetchi Assaomi (College of Pharmacy) and Kristoff Hart (Mike Curb College of Entertainment and Music Business).

Pharmacy Professor Speaks at Healthcare Information Management Systems Society Conference

BlashSmall2College of Pharmacy Assistant Professor Dr. Anthony Blash co-presented at the 2016 Healthcare Information Management Systems Society (HIMSS) annual conference in Las Vegas, Nevada with JoAnn W. Klinedinst, M.Ed., CPHIMS, PMP, DES, FHIMSS, vice president of professional development for HIMSS North America.

Blash spoke about the benefits of being a HIMSS Approved Education Partner (AEP) and highlighted the fact that Belmont University’s College of Pharmacy was the first AEP chosen by the HIMSS society.

Attendance at this years’ conference was at a near-record high with over 40,000 attendees. After the conference, the society donated HIMSS conference backpacks to Blash for Belmont University College of Pharmacy students in the Healthcare Informatics concentration. The bags will go to students in a variety of healthcare informatics courses, as well as those who obtain their CAHIMS certification before graduation.

HIMSS is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to improving healthcare quality, safety, cost-effectiveness and access through the best use of information technology and management systems with 52,000 individual members, 570 corporate members and 225 not-for-profit association members.

Pharmacy Students Attend State Conference

The Tennessee Society of Student Pharmacists (TSSP) Winter Meeting was recently held in downtown Nashville at the Double Tree Hotel. Eighteen students from Belmont University’s College of Pharmacy attended to learn more about TSSP and advocate for the pharmacy profession. The Winter Meeting brings student pharmacists together from across Tennessee to engage in current legislation, build relationships and advocate for the pharmacy profession.

Belmont student Shelby Blalock took the reigns as the 2016-2017 TSSP president during the meeting. Blalock stated, “Attending the TSSP Winter Meeting was a great experience! During the meeting, we met other student pharmacists from across the state of Tennessee, shared our passion for the field of pharmacy and learned how to advocate for our profession through pharmacist panels and workshops.”

At the meeting this year, APhA Foundation Resident Brian Donahue, PharmD served as the keynote speaker. Donahue spoke on the event’s theme, “The Time is Now,” and described opportunities in the pharmacy profession and how to act on them. There was also a presentation on the past, present and future of TSSP, where Blalock spoke.

Other presentations focused on “Building an Innovative Practice,” “Being the Leader of Tomorrow Today,” and “Making the Most of Your Residency: Transitioning to the Workplace” by utilizing pharmacists and students to lead panels and hands-on activities. The programming also included a workshop, lead by TPA Director of Pharmacy Practice Initiatives Lucy Adkins, PharmD, on how to effectively advocate for the pharmacy profession. The meeting concluded with Blalock delivering her presidential speech and the TSSP Executive Committee transitioned leadership utilizing an Oath of Office led by Blalock.

TSSP continued a tradition of organizing a Legislative Health Fair at the State Capitol where students from every school or college of pharmacy from across Tennessee participated. Five Belmont students attended to check blood pressures and educate legislators on Medication Therapy Management. Three students participated in the TPA House of Delegates where two resolutions were proposed, voted on and passed. The first resolution honored Dr. Larry D. Calhoun (dean of ETSU) for his dedication and for winning the APhA-ASP Outstanding Dean Award. The second allowed pharmacists serving as preceptors to claim five hours of non-ACPE continuing education credit for precepting students per renewal cycle. The next meeting for TSSP is in July.

Mission to Guatemala: Energy, Laughter and Happiness

by Kristina Mertz, Meghan Chen, and Allison Lane
KristinaMeghan's HeadshotAllison's Headshot
This week has flown by faster than any of us had expected considering our rocky start. It is crazy to think that today was our last day of clinics here in Guatemala. Thursday's Blog PictureToday we were blessed enough to serve at Escuela Esperanza surrounding ourselves with kids full of energy, laughter, and happiness. The mission of this school was to break the cycle of poverty through education and empowerment, which motivated us to continue on through the heat of the day.

At the end of the day, we had our usual debriefing meeting where we reflected upon 1 Corinthians 1: 12-19. In this passage, it discusses how “God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.” This scripture made us realize how God has given each individual on this team special abilities and talents that has allowed us to work together as a team. Similar to the Body of Christ, health care is made up of many different parts and roles. Our team is made up of students from pharmacy, physical therapy, social work, and nursing. Over the past week, we have realized the importance of integrating interdisciplinary roles in order to serve the people of Antigua. We all have our own individual strengths but we also know it is okay to ask for help when we need it.

Thursday's Blog Picture 2It is so rewarding to know that we were able to provide health care for so many people over this short amount of time. None of this would be possible without each of us coming together to form a team, for the sum of our efforts are greater than the parts we each play. Each of us will walk away with a stronger understanding of how we can serve others as the Body of Christ.

As Jesus says in Matthew 25:40, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.”

Mission to Guatemala: God came through. . .

by Shelley Robert, Adjunct Professor and
Nurse Practitioner, Vanderbilt Trauma Center

“Your word, Lord, is eternal;
it stands firm in the heavens.
Your faithfulness continues through all generations; you established the earth, and it endures.” -Psalm 119:89-90

Leading the students on this trip has reinforced and renewed my faith in several ways. As a newcomer to Guatemala, as a rookie leader of a student trip, and as a nurse practitioner who practices in a highly organized healthcare system with ample resources, this trip presented many challenges and fears. I was not able to solve these challenges by my own volition or control, therefore I asked God to give me the strength and wisdom of the Holy Spirit. I breathed this prayer under my breath many times throughout the week, as I walked up to obviously sick women and children. And He responded. Our student team saw many very sick patients who literally had no other option outside of us. We are practicing in a rural area where many families live in great poverty, and they do not have the resources to provide healthcare for their families. Many of our Guatemalan friends, when I questioned their medical history, had never been seen by a doctor. We saw a variety of illnesses, ranging from children with chronic respiratory illness to a woman with dengue fever and impending hypovolemic shock. I prayed so many times during these examinations, for God to help me remember my training and to give me direction for how to best care for these very sick people. Cellular networks were unreliable, and we had no use for all the fancy & informative apps on our phones. But God came through for us. He answered my prayers, in all His goodness and grace. He helped me to recall the knowledge and skills that go unused in my day-to-day profession, which is highly specialized and not at all similar to the primary care/international medicine practice that we needed with these patients. He also gave me a brilliant multidisciplinary team of health science students and other leaders who were passionate and excited to lend their fresh expertise in a new perspective. God is faithful. Our prayers are a reminder of our reliance on God, as we humbly and desperately invite Him to fill us with faith and strength.

Mission to Guatemala: The Journey to Antigua

by Jon Ashton, Pharmacy Student

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From left to right: Shelby Hood (Pharmacy – 4th year), Meghan Chen (Nursing – 2nd year), Jonathan Ashton (Pharmacy – 1st year) in Antigua, Guatemala

Each of us has our own journey, our own path to walk. Some paths are easy, some are hard. Some smooth, some rocky. Some are flat, and some never seem to stop going uphill. Each of us has parts of our journey that are wonderful and some which are not, and some parts that help us find meaning in that journey.

For one week, a group of 22 students and faculty at Belmont University has come together to walk a part of our journey together. We have decided to journey together to Antigua, Guatemala in order to spend that time in service of others.

Our journey got off to a hectic start. We were scheduled to arrive at 4AM Sunday morning at Nashville International Airport in order to be prepared to board our pre-dawn flight to Houston and then on to Guatemala City. We checked in, shuttled through security, and boarded the plane, only to have the captain announce over the intercom that we would be delayed for fog in Houston. We stood up sleepily, trudged off the plane and waited, where but ten minutes later, we were invited back onto the plane after the captain had verified that in fact their equipment was sufficient to land in fog. This time, it was time to go! We taxied out onto the runway and waited for the word that we were cleared to take off. No_go_for_Houston_030616Some 45 minutes later, another passenger not in our party passed out and required medical attention, so we taxied back to the gate, only to find that there was no gate available. By then, the passenger had recovered, more embarrassed than anything else, but by this time, we’d lost enough time that it was impossible for us to make it to Houston in time to catch our connecting flight to Guatemala City. We were asked to deplane again. Strike two. Our faculty leadership sprang into action and spent 20 minutes with the gate attendant trying to find an option to reroute our flight and get us to Guatemala that day. Unfortunately, it was not to be. The next available flight was the following day. Strike three. We were out. Our only option was to return the following morning, once again at 4AM. A rocky start indeed.

Guatemala_City_from_the_air_030616Monday morning came, and by 4AM, each of us had returned to the airport ready to go, a little wearier from lack of sleep and a little warier of bad luck. This time, however, our luck was good. The skies were clear enough to fly on schedule, and we had an uneventful pair of flights to Guatemala City. The city itself is nestled in among verdant mountains with colorful buildings dotting the landscape as we approached. It was clear that the city was a modern city, but with a soul that was unique and different from that which we know in Nashville. The colors were vibrant, the people energetic, and there seemed to be a well-organized chaos directing traffic. It took an hour and a half by van to reach Antigua along a highway which might be described as an unhurried rush. No horns sounded angrily. Motorcycles weaved through traffic. People went about their day.

Calles_de_Antigua_030616As we reached Antigua, the feel changed. The town was smaller, the architecture took on a less modern and more colonial Spanish aspect. The roads were cobblestone. Amidst the historic charm of the city, there was a rougher edge to be seen. There were bars on windows, heavy steel grates, prominent locks, and walls with broken glass embedded in the tops to prevent burglars from jumping over. It was clear there are parts of the town that are less safe than we are used to. It was also clear that there was a very real need for people like us to come and offer what training, knowledge, and skills that we have.

Having been delayed a full day, our contact, a businessman named Pablo, informed us that a doctor was seeing patients and that many were waiting for us to arrive to help screen her patients. Once again, our leadership sprang into action, directing a few of us to drop off our bags at the residence, and setting up the various stations of the clinic. There were stations for vital signs, for blood glucose screening, an eye exam, and a limited pharmacy set up with the medications we brought from Tennessee. We saw over eighty patients, mostly elderly women, but included a few children and teenagers as well.

One patient in particular, an elderly woman of over eighty years, came to the clinic with leg pain. She told her story of chronic, severely debilitating leg pain that kept her housebound, confined to a wheelchair, unable to walk or work. She felt a burden to her adult daughter who cared for her. When we asked what we could do, she asked if we would pray with her. Sydney didn’t hesitate. She asked for a translator to join her and the patient’s daughter for a prayer. The bowed their heads. Sydney prayed. The translator translated. As the prayer was offered, those around the room took notice. Many bowed their heads and joined the prayer. Many others in the crowded, busy room heard the words and their eyes glistened as they asked God for strength, for guidance, and for love. When she was done, she said ‘Amen’ and offered a hug to the woman, who returned it with tears in her eyes.

There are times along our journey when our path intersects the path of another. On this day, the relatively smooth path of 22 young travelers crossed many paths: a young, inquisitive boy in for a check-up, a young girl with a persistent cough, a young mother with a sick infant, an elderly grandmother with leg pain, and countless others. Each day, we have the chance to make a difference, to reach out and offer comfort in a time of need, to help make the journey of a fellow traveler a little easier.

Mission to Guatemala: Tuesday

DSC_0320by Carolina Cerrato, Nursing Student

DSC_0240Today was a day both challenging and gratifying as my team and I tackled our second day serving those in Antigua, Guatemala. We had the opportunity to visit a clinic for the elderly, as well as a women’s clinic, and continued running general health screenings there. With today being our second day there were definitely more expectations in terms of what we were capable of, however, there was not a single challenge that one of my team members did not rise to meet. I am continually blown away by the energy, passion, and focus that each one of these individuals has for providing healthcare, and even more astounded by the love they have for a people they’ve only just met. As I walked from room to room within the clinic there were several instances when entire groups of people would have their hands over someone in prayer, which was incredible to me, because not only did it serve as a reminder of why we are here (for Jesus!), but it showed just how much of a team we have already become – united under Christ.

As we continue throughout this week I am excited and anxious to see how we grow together and as individuals. With only a few days left to provide care, we are eager to see how the Lord can continue to use us to love and care for His people. Bendiciones,