Touro University - CA is one of the newer pharmacy programs on the block, so you may not know about us. The PharmD program is currently in its 2nd year, and for those interested in learning more about it, I wrote this article for US Pharmacist, published sometime in Feb 07. I posted here the unedited version (I like it better, hehe), and I like to think it's a good intro to my PharmD program and also the Charter Class experience. Enjoy! Hope it helps and possibly get you interested in our program or pharma in general... and good hunting as you all venture into the thick of it. fr3d THE NEW FACES OF PHARMACY Touro University and the Charter Class It seems at least a quarter of the prescription consults I give as a pharmacy intern end with patients inquiring about the College of Pharmacy at Touro University California. Never heard of it, they tend to mention when noticing the colleges emblem on my white coat. Even some of the pharmacists I work with have wondered about this new California pharmacy school I attend. It is understandable that there is a lack of name recognition for Touro University - COP. The program is just only in its second year of the accreditation process and has had no more than 145 students sit in its classroom facilities. Still, I like to believe it is my classs duty and privilege to get the word out about Touro. We are after all the Charter Class; the first class to go through the developing curriculum and the first to eventually graduate from the program. For all the opportunities that Touro has given us, it is the least that we the Charter Students can do in return. The College of Pharmacy For those of you unaware of one of the newest additions to pharmacy academia, let me introduce you to my school. Touro is a Jewish-sponsored university established in the San Francisco Bay Area in 1997. The College of Pharmacy is the fourth college at the Touro campus, which also serves as home for programs in the fields of medicine, education and health sciences. Touro offers a four year PharmD program based on a two-year didactic plus two-year clinical rotations model not seen in any other national pharmacy school. It is proposed that the two years of clerkships will help develop pharmacists with a higher level of clinical preparation. But beyond these characteristics that I would consider brochure material, the college has some unique subtleties that I feel inclined to discuss. For example, The Touro faculty and staff, led by Dean Katherine Knapp and Associate Deans Debra Sasaki-Hill and Paul Goldsmith, made a promise to be there for the students throughout our endeavor. This support may not sound like much on paper, but knowing that their doors are always open for office hours and much more makes such a difference. Whether our conversations with them are about the deeper pharmacy experience, the Beatles, or even about a personal loss or struggle, it is amazing to see that our staff has blurred the lines between mentors and caring friends. Touros heavy emphasis on group work is another notable characteristic. Our class of sixty three is divided into ten teams so that we can participate in Student Group Discussions (SGDs). These daily sessions supplement our lectures and encourage group process through presentations, debates, clinical skits and other active learning assignments. Those who crave to flex their creativity and imagination in such activities will find much to like here. They also provide a nice break from the traditional lecturing routine, giving us time to socialize and help each other solidify our understanding of difficult topics. Through teamwork, SGDs essentially make us more appreciative of our classmates as both friends and professionals. The Charter Class experience There is a tremendous concern that goes with being a student at a newly established college of pharmacy that is still working towards full accreditation. Transitioning into a professional college is difficult in its own right, but to do it with no other pharmacy classes around to intermingle with makes for a possibly isolated and trying experience. Add to that the responsibility for not only their own growth and development as professionals but also the PharmD programs as well, one has to wonder why students would accept the risk and uncertainty that come with attending an unproven college. When I discussed the Charter Class experience with my peers, many expressed that they chose Touro because they desired the challenges, rewards and opportunities that comes with being trailblazers. I admit that this ambitious, entrepreneurial spirit is why I am here as well. We understood the risks involved, but we also saw the more complex, bigger picture at Touro and found endless possibilities. Both faculty and students rose to the challenges of being first and have brought into fruition nearly everything we felt our college needed. A few of my peers became class officers to set precedent for us and future classes. Some helped establish community outreach programs where none had existed before. One person even sold homemade drug information cards to the class. Clubs were started, national association applications were completed, weekly newsletters were published, and even pharmacy apparel was designed and sold. Our greatest feat - I will argue - is that our college achieved Candidate Status in our first year of eligibility. Considering how much hard work we put into our first year, this is something we are unabashedly proud of. Not many pharmacy students get the chance to play with an empty canvas like we do as the Charter Class. There was so much to do before we got here, and it is amazing to look back at what we have accomplished already. Besides the education and the friends we have made, being able to see what our creativity and enthusiasm can muster up is truly one of the greatest gifts Touro has ever given us. Opportunity in our responsibility One of the most significant responsibilities given to the Charter Class has been the duty of giving consistent feedback to staff regarding the ongoing development of the college. The program is still in a fluid state and the faculty made it quite clear how essential student input is in shaping all aspects of the programs structure. Indeed, a plethora of communication channels have been made available for us to express our honest assessment of the curriculum, professors, learning atmosphere and other issues of significance. Curriculum meetings, which discuss the work and progress being made in the program, are the students most significant means to help shape the learning environment. Our comments and concerns are given to student representatives who present them to the staff for deliberations at these meetings, and we have seen many progressive outcomes as a result. One of our biggest contributions has been helping synchronize our biology, pharmaceutics, clinical and social/behavioral courses together to layer our learning experience and make it more effective. The future It really is a gift to have our voices heard and appreciated. Having this much impact on the College of Pharmacys growth was not something I expected to have in spades at Touro. I realize now how tremendous and essential the role of the Charter Class is in breathing life into the vision of a developing college. Of course, we are only the beginning at Touro. We look to future classes and faculty to continue the evolution of the program and take it to new frontiers. With so much to be done and many more opportunities still to be had, I am excited to see what Touro has in store for pharmacy. Obviously, I am also looking forward to seeing what my peers and I have in store for pharmacy as professionals. History has been made by the Charter Class, but it will be in the future where we will be making the grand, ardent strides in our profession and our community. If you never heard of us, trust me, you will soon enough.