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HPU prepares for Pharmacy and Health Sciences school opening

by Chanel Davis

High Point University will bring more than new students to campus this 2016-2017 school year as it prepares to open its new pharmacy school this fall.

The university recently invited media to tour its Congdon School of Health Sciences and Fred Wilson School of Pharmacy Complex, which is due to be finished in the spring, touting the pharmacy school as the first in the Triad area. The complex represents the single largest investment in HPU’s history with a price tag of $120 million with construction beginning in May. The 224,000-square-foot, four story building will house the university’s existing physician assistant program, the pharmacy program that will begin this month and the physical therapy program that is accepting applications but is slated to begin in 2017.

The building is equipped with cutting edge technology. The complex includes advanced laboratory space including a musculoskeletal lab, neuroscience lab, cadaver lab, physical exam skills lab, clinical skills lab, a critical care simulation room and an emergency simulation room.

The Congdon School of Health Sciences, led by Dean Daniel Erb, offers an undergraduate program in Exercise Science, a graduate program that offers a master’s degree in Science in Physician Assistant Studies and a fifth-year master’s in Athletic Training and is in the process of accepting applications for its Physical Therapy degree.

The three main functions of the schools Human Biomechanics and Physiology lab are education, research and clinical treatment. There’s a half-sized NBA regulation basketball court and environmental chamber, among other things, so that students can assess athletes that participate in everything from basketball and lacrosse to golfing.

“There’s not a lab like this on the East Coast of the United States. It integrates physiology and biomechanics,” Erb said.

The quality of the lab allows the program to work with major companies on their research.

“For example, we are currently working with Adidas as one of its research partners,” Erb said. “This lab allows us to look at different things like cleat patterns on shoes, at different support patterns for athletes and look into how different clothing affects performance.”

The Fred Wilson School of Pharmacy, led by Dean Ron Ragan, offers students an opportunity to practice pharmacy at what he calls “the highest level.” The school’s education model includes a focus on basic pharmaceutical knowledge, skills and clinical training through the integration of biomedical and clinical sciences so students can make critical decisions quickly.

The school has already been granted pre-candidate status by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education.

Ragan is excited about the pharmacy skill lab that offers a setting, surrounded by glass panels, that allows students to use their clinical, patient interacting and scientific skills in the same arena, along with participating in advanced pharmaceutical research.

“This is where our students will learn some of those elementary pharmacy skills like counting and pouring but it will also allow them to acquire those skills needed for patient care,” Ragan said. “This gives them the opportunity to begin to practice some of the skills needed to provide care and gain patient interaction skills.”

HPU’s first pharmacy class includes 60 students from 12 different states, with the majority of that number being in-state students. The class gender demographic is equal with 50 percent of students listed as female and the other 50 percent male. While the complex is being completed, students will have to use temporary classroom space.

The schools have taken an inter-professional approach to education, teaching students through evidence-based clinical practice, community engagement and hands on training to ensure that students are prepared to be compassionate leaders in the healthcare field. They’re working with the University of North Carolina- Greensboro and North Carolina A&T State University on an inter-professional education series, which allows nursing, social work and physician assistant students to work together the same way they would in a professional environment.

A tiered auditorium space on the first floor is designed to cultivate that kind of environment. Ragan said that it’s important for students to graduate with the ability to work well with their colleagues.

“We have a number of different health professions under one roof and that gives us an opportunity to train our students in an inter-professional fashion. The industry practices that way,” Ragan said. “We need to give them experiences in an inter-professional environment while they’re in school so they’ll be prepared to practice the same way.”

One way students from both schools will get needed hands-on experience is through the school’s Pro Bono program. The Human Biomechanics and Physiology lab that is currently located in the area of Oak Hollow Mall will become a physical therapy clinic in conjunction with the UNC Health System. According to Erb, the schools will also partner with other agencies in the Triad including Carolina Medical, Cone and Novant Health.

“Some individuals that need physical therapy services also need others services and we can refer them back to the hospital. The hospital can refer individuals into our clinic as well. It’s like a pipeline,” he said. “Pro Bono work is our way of engaging and incorporating the community with the university. The students in our program want to serve the community, especially the underprivileged and vulnerable population. They want to give back and improve their quality of life.”

For more information about the programs, visit www.highpoint.edu. !

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