Wilkes’ Nesbitt School of Pharmacy marks 20 years of pharmacy education


Courtesy of Wilkes University Marketing Dept.

Left to right: Associate pharmacy professor Dr. Jon Ference, Vice President/ Provost Dr. Anne Skleder, and Dean of Pharmacy Dr. Bernard Graham

Wilkes University’s Nesbitt School of Pharmacy rededicated its CVS Pharmacy Care Lab at a special event on Oct. 22. The event also marked the 20th anniversary of the founding of the pharmacy school at Wilkes. The event was held at the Stark Learning Center and included a ribbon cutting and rededication.

The first class of pharmacy students began studying at the school in 1996. The event coincided – almost to the day – with the formal dedication of the school on Oct. 23, 1996, affirmed by a congratulatory note from then-President Bill Clinton that still hangs in the school.  It is northeast Pennsylvania’s only pharmacy school.

The Care Lab has been an integral part of training for over 1,100 Nesbitt School of Pharmacy graduates and will continue providing future students with a state-of-the-art, collaborative learning space. The rededication is the culmination of significant renovations that have taken place over the past nine months at a cost of over $85,000.

According to Bernard Graham, dean of the Nesbitt School of Pharmacy, facilities such as the care lab reflects the pharmacy schools’ commitment to adapt to changes in health care and in the pharmacy profession.

“As the profession of pharmacy continues to evolve so does our educational methods and programs. Pharmacists are an integral part of the healthcare team and our students of pharmacy must be collaborative and continued learners,” Graham said. “This newly reconfigured space will help to facilitate the learning process by encouraging the students to learn together as a team and use the current available technology.”

The Care Lab represents the backbone of the curriculum within the Nesbitt School of Pharmacy. Students learn to apply the knowledge gained in other classes to patient care.

Within the five-semester lab series that are required, student pharmacists develop skills in preparing intravenous medications in accordance with United States Pharmacopeia standards, learn to counsel patients on prescription and over-the-counter medications and acquire knowledge of the Pharmacists’ Patient Care Process.

The lab classes also help students gain skills in applying the principles of evidence-based medicine as well as helping them become familiar with the use of an electronic health record. They also teach students how to perform medication therapy management consultations and aids them in participating in the American Pharmacists Association immunization training program. Through these classes, students work as a member of an interprofessional healthcare team and learn to provide patient-centered care in a variety of practice settings, such as ambulatory care, acute care and managed care pharmacy.

“The care lab is similar to that of a biology or chemistry lab in that it gives us a chance to apply our knowledge and learn valuable hands-on skills that we will regularly use in our future profession,” said pharmacy student Felicia Snyder. “As future healthcare providers, it is vital for us to be able to apply these skills quickly and the care lab gives us an opportunity to learn how to do this.”

The Nesbitt School of Pharmacy was first imagined by the late Umid R. Nejib, then dean of the Wilkes’ College of Science and Engineering. Nejib saw the need for a pharmacy school in northeastern Pennsylvania, advanced the idea at Wilkes and in 1994 hired Graham from Idaho State University to serve as dean.

The first pharmacy students entered Wilkes in fall 1994, and the professional pharmacy program started in fall 1996. Two years of pre-pharmacy education lead to guaranteed seating for the four years of study leading to the Doctor of Pharmacy degree. In 1999, the school was named the Nesbitt School of Pharmacy in honor of Abram Nesbitt 2nd, the late husband of Geraldine Nesbitt Orr, who made a generous gift to the University.