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Dean’s Hour With School of Pharmacy Students

Sept. 28, 2012
Smith Building, Room 103

Thank you, Corey, for this invitation, and your leadership as student body president in the School of Pharmacy has been really terrific. I also thank and recognize Erich Brechtelsbauer, who is a visionary leader for VCU who’s working for the success of the entire university.

Your dean, Vic Yanchick, is retiring in January 2014 and will absolutely be missed. He’s been a remarkable leader for the School of Pharmacy for 17 years who really helped evolve the school’s curriculum from baccalaureate degree to professional degree. He increased the enrollment of each class from 90 to 140 and also tripled enrollment in the pharmaceutical sciences graduate program. Dean Yanchick created a national model by instituting team-based learning as a standard in School of Pharmacy courses, implemented the INOVA and UVA Medical Center campuses, and increased fourfold the research in the school, reaching the top tier nationally.

Did you know that Dean Yanchick is also a beautiful watercolorist? It’s true. He has given several paintings to the school for fundraising auction items. As students, you have had the chance to learn from and work with a national and international leader in your field. We are counting on our next dean to continue to build on a strong foundation.

Let’s take a moment to recognize Dean Yanchick. Thank you, Vic.

You are getting a world-class education at VCU, which is important as you enter a changing career. There is absolutely a new environment for pharmacists after the Affordable Care Act. Because of ACA, about 32 million more Americans will gain access to health care benefits, including prescription drugs. Combined with the elimination of annual limits on health care expenditures and mandatory insurance coverage, that is a lot more prescriptions generated. Some estimates say 141 million more prescriptions in 2016 than today.

There will be a greater demand for pharmacists and pharmacy personnel around the nation, and the good news is that wages are sure to rise as well. The AACP thinks that we’ll need more than 150,000 more pharmacists during the next decade. What’s important is that we have not just more pharmacists, but pharmacists who will be leaders in our world.

There will also be challenges going forward, but your VCU curriculum is innovative and forward-thinking, and you are well-prepared. VCU’s is a collaborative, interprofessional and patient-centered curriculum, which is important to ensure that these 32 million new patients — and everyone else — receive comprehensive care.

What happens next in the new world of pharmacy, post-ACA, is up to you. Your expertise should make you a cornerstone of patient care and well-being. You’re not just learning about the science of your field, you’re also learning how to make a difference in the lives of others.

Many of you already are. Every year, Will Coleman, who is a P3, leads a medical mission team through El Salvador to help rural Salvadorians who lack adequate access to health care. He provides medicine and vitamins to patients who need them, and helps children who have been abuse victims. He is also supporting his own medical therapy knowledge, which will help make him a well-rounded pharmacist who leads in his field.

Jessica Mills, a P2, and Danielle Navalta, a P1, are helping fight obesity among young people in Richmond. They’re conducting service learning through an organization called Faces of Hope, working to prevent heart disease, diabetes and other obesity-related conditions in young people — before these patients need to take pharmaceuticals. What they’re doing squarely aligns with the School of Pharmacy’s curriculum focused on experiential-based education.

Lauren Cox, a P2, helps patients who speak only Spanish gain access to the information they need to live healthier lives. She helps translate for Spanish-speaking patients at CrossOver Ministry Health Center here in Richmond and has made a tremendous difference in these patients’ abilities to receive effective treatment.

Many of you have volunteered to give blood pressure screenings and medication reviews at a local retirement community. One resident there, who has severe rheumatoid arthritis, said that thanks to the help you have given her: “I can walk again! I can go anywhere I want.”

You are already working to ensure that patients have the care they need. You are changing people’s lives.

There are many remarkable people in the School of Pharmacy — students, faculty members and staff — who make our School of Pharmacy a national leader and an important part of a vibrant research university. As VCU continues to make progress as the nation’s premier urban, public research university, a strong School of Pharmacy is critical.

That is why it’s important that you are engaged in the university. We are counting on you to be leaders not just in your school, not just at VCU Medical Center, but at VCU as one university. Be proud of your university, because we are proud of you!

There are so many things to be proud of at VCU. We just saw a record number of graduates, including Ph.D.s. Our current freshman class has the highest average SAT score and GPA in university history. We are now in the Top 100 in NSF rankings for both federal and total expenditures, and in the Top 200 international research universities, according to the Academic Ranking of World Universities.

We are now among the Top 50 public universities in three CMUP rankings, up from just one a couple of years ago. We expect that is headed to four or five in next few years. Our record research revenues have reached $260 million, 91 percent more than in 2001, and we have record invention disclosures and patents issued.

VCU is on a roll. But we could not achieve these successes and rankings without combining our efforts. Thank you for all you do to contribute to our successes in many ways. I’m happy to take your questions.