University of South Carolina

Integrated pharmacy program graduates first class

The South Carolina College of Pharmacy makes history this spring as it graduates its first class -- 183 students in the integrated University of South Carolina and Medical University of South Carolina pharmacy school.

The two schools joined in 2004, bringing together the resources of a major academic medical center and a large comprehensive university. The idea was to leverage the resources of the two colleges of pharmacy to create a college on par with the best in the country.

“During the past four years, we have implemented one of the best curriculums in the U.S.,” said Joseph T. DiPiro, executive dean of the South Carolina College of Pharmacy. “We are the program of choice for hundreds of applicants; our research productivity is up; our facilities have been improved, and many of our faculty and students have received national awards and recognitions. We have exceptionally strong partners in health care organizations, and we are attracting top faculty. Not all of that is directly attributable to the integration, but it is clearly working to our advantage. The proof is the caliber of the young men and women we are sending into the profession as SCCP graduates who are USC or MUSC alumni.”

The MUSC campus of the South Carolina College of Pharmacy will hold its awards and hooding ceremony at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, May 20 at the Omar Shrine Temple in Mount Pleasant. Commencement is at 9 a.m. Friday, May 21 in the Horseshoe on the MUSC campus.

Two of the graduates from the MUSC campus got more than just a PharmD out of their time at the College. Chris Dykes, a native of Columbia, S.C. who grew up on a military base in Germany, and Lisa Olson Dykes, an Iowan who chose SCCP because it was in a warm place she’d never been, met within a few weeks of beginning school. Now married, the two are going into a career with the U.S. Air Force.

“Well, I met my now husband within the first few weeks of school, which I never expected to happen,” Lisa Dykes said. “We were friends for awhile before we started dating and the rest is history. I was torn between the military and a civil service position. However, after many conversations with him, our recruiter, and several friends, I decided to join the Air Force as well.”

The two will report for officer training with the U.S. Air Force in Alabama and then be stationed in Biloxi, Miss.

“We will be active duty pharmacists on bases in the U.S. and overseas throughout our careers, either in a hospital or clinic setting, traveling somewhere new every few years,” she said. “And yes, fortunately, the Air Force sends us together.”

Chris Dykes, whose father is an alumnus of USC’s pharmacy school, attended the College of Charleston for undergraduate education and chose to stay in Charleston for his pharmacy education.

“MUSC would have been my choice campus-wise. And with the merger they would take the best of both worlds,” he said, adding that the chance to work with faculty, including infectious disease specialists at the USC campus, was one of the highlights. “I would never have gotten that chance if it was just MUSC. And if I went to just USC, I wouldn’t have gotten our fantastic hospital at MUSC. Dr. DiPiro is bringing everybody together. He has lot of pull in the pharmacy world. It’s a coveted spot to be a part of the college now.”

An opportunity Kendra Manigault took advantage of while on the USC campus of the SCCP was USC’s Honors College. The Moncks Corner native graduated in May from the South Carolina College of Pharmacy and the USC Honors College.

“I came to USC because I came on a tour here and I fell in love with the campus,” Manigault said. “I got here in 2004 and I’ve loved it ever since. When I knew I wanted to go to pharmacy school I also knew I wanted to stay here. I’ve had six years and I’ve gotten everything I could have out of a university.”

She said it’s been an advantage – and sometimes a challenge – to have the MUSC and USC pharmacy schools integrated.

“I knew my experience with the SCCP might be a challenge due to the merger, but I was ready for the challenge and comforted by the impressive history of both pharmacy schools,” she said. “We’re the first class. Some things at first may not have worked perfectly, but they’ve listened to us. They’ve listened to our concerns and suggestions.”

The administration was eager to get student feedback from the first class because the curriculum was new and in many ways so was the college.

“One advantage the Class of 2010 got was giving a lot of input into our curriculum,” said Philip Hall, interim dean of the MUSC campus. “Student feedback is a big part of our assessment plan so we review student input every step of the way. Since this class was test driving a new curriculum we were even more attuned to their input.”

Randall C. Rowen, dean of the USC campus, said the integration of the two schools was a step into new territory.

“There really wasn’t a precedent for something like this so we didn’t always know what to expect. Integrating the two colleges was a bold decision made at an opportune time,” Rowen said. “I know that most students we honor at graduation will say they are proud to be a graduate of the first class from South Carolina College of Pharmacy.”

The Class of 2010 left its mark on the curriculum, and history.

“The presidents and boards of trustees at USC and MUSC had a vision in 2004 – leverage the resources of two colleges of pharmacy to create a college on par with the best in the country,” DiPiro said. “In many respects, particularly the quality of our students and faculty, we are there. There is still a lot of work to do. But I am proud of and grateful to the many people who have enabled us to reach this milestone, especially the students of the Class of 2010.”

Accomplishments and highlights of the South Carolina College of Pharmacy

  • Research funding has increased to place the SCCP in the top 25 percent of colleges. In 2004, the combined funding for both colleges was less than $2 million; it was $5 million this past year.
  • Despite a sluggish economy, applications to the SCCP were up 10 percent in 2010 and the average GPA of accepted applicants is the highest ever.
  • Students from both campuses have the opportunity to do rotations at more sites. The SCCP has established partnerships with major medical centers throughout South Carolina including Greenville Hospital System University Medical Center, Spartanburg Regional Hospital, Roper St. Francis and the Veterans Administration hospitals in Columbia and Charleston.
  • The SCCP has launched a $30 million fundraising campaign to build a new pharmacy facility on the MUSC campus.
  • The SCCP has recruited nationally renowned scientists as Center of Economic Excellence endowed chairs.
  • The SCCP has five research and service centers: the Palmetto Poison Center, the Center for Drug Discovery, the Center for Cell Death, Injury and Regeneration, the Center for Medication Safety and Efficacy, and the academic detailing program SCORxE (South Carolina Offering Prescribing Excellence). The last two are highly integrated research programs utilizing the resources of both campuses.
  • The SCCP has expanded into the Upstate and established partnerships with Greenville Hospital System University Medical Center (GHS) and Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System (SRHS). The SCCP has 16 co-funded faculty positions in the Upstate and a full-time Upstate regional director. It expects to open a campus at GHS, where students will be able to complete their third and fourth years.

S.C. College of Pharmacy, Class of 2010

  • Number of graduates:: 183 (108 on USC campus; 75 on MUSC campus)/li>
  • Average age of 2010 Class: 25 on USC campus; 27 on MUSC campus
  • Gender: 126 female; 65 male

By Office of Media Relations

Posted: 05/19/10 @ 12:00 AM | Updated: 05/20/10 @ 3:45 PM | Permalink