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TODAY news for Thursday, April 6, 2006

School of Pharmacy news

School of Pharmacy announces national awards for innovation in pharmacy

Gamal Hussein, PharmD, associate professor in the School of Pharmacy, demonstrating the Virtual Patient software program
Gamal Hussein, PharmD, associate professor in the School of Pharmacy, demonstrates the Virtual Patient software program, which allows pharmacy students to manage the pharmaceutical needs of a virtual patient with “real” consequences. The software received an “honorable mention” for the 2006 Innovations in Teaching awards.
Innovation doesn’t just happen, according to Gamal Hussein, PharmD, associate professor of pharmacy practice, LLU School of Pharmacy. It must be actively encouraged and nurtured.

That’s the reason why Dr. Hussein initiated the National Innovations in Pharmacy Practice awards program, now in its third year.

Dr. Hussein approached Allen Zimmerman, vice president for technology at AmerisourceBergen Corporation, with the proposal for a new national awards program, hoping they would provide a grant.

Mr. Zimmerman and the AmerisourceBergen Corporation responded with a generous long-term grant to fund the National Innovations in Pharmacy Practice awards program for five years.

In 1996, Dr. Hussein himself received the Innovations in Teaching Award, presented by the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy. The award recognized his efforts in developing a multimedia interactive course, which he began working on as early as 1992.

It became Dr. Hussein’s desire to develop a similar awards program to encourage innovation among pharmacy students.

“Innovators are designers of the future and artists of life,” Dr. Hussein points out. “While some universities recognize innovation among faculty, Loma Linda University is the first school in the country to recognize and foster innovation among pharmacy students nationwide.”

While the inaugural Innovations in Pharmacy Practice awards were limited to Loma Linda University students enrolled in the doctor of pharmacy program, Dr. Hussein sought additional funding for the purpose of opening the program to pharmacy students nationwide.

“Innovation is a way of life,” Dr. Hussein asserts. “It is a mission that starts at an early age.” He adds, “Most innovations were originated by people in their 20s.”

Dr. Hussein gives the following example to represent the kinds of innovation the awards program seeks to foster.

The use of barcodes for simplifying many aspects of manufacturing has been around for many years. However, it was not applied to the field of pharmacy until about five years ago.

Once applied, barcodes drastically increased convenience and efficiency, while reducing human error—to the benefit of both patients and pharmacists.

“We encourage students to look around their world and discover technologies and methodologies that could be applied to the field of pharmacy to enhance it,” explains Dr. Hussein.

The four 2005 winners of the National Innovations in Pharmacy Practice awards stood out from the many applicants. The first three are Loma Linda University School of Pharmacy students.

Chioma Nudule’s project, titled “Introducing the Addiction Intervention Database: A Software for Pharmacists,” suggested the creation of a national database of individuals who are abusing prescription drugs either out of desperation or for illegal purposes.

Quang A. Le proposed a software program, “Advanced-RX-Script” (version 1.0), as a way to improve the accuracy of prescriptions for outpatients.

Teddy D. Nguyen’s project was based on the development of an e-mail-driven system to minimize prescription errors, provide drug information, and speed up access to prescriptions.

Michael Lacher, from Campbell University School of Pharmacy in Buies, North Carolina, suggested that a “Universal Insurance Care Scanner” system be developed that could instantaneously process, update, and upload patient information, as well as provide a billing system.

Dr. Hussein recently sent out the announcement and invitation for submissions for the 2006 Innovations in Pharmacy Practice awards.

The deadline for proposal submissions is April 30. Winners will be announced in May.

“We believe,” says Dr. Hussein, “that these awards will help to foster innovations that may lead to the student’s professional growth, as well as to the advancement of the profession.”

For more information, you may call (909) 558-7587 or e-mail <ghusssein@llu.edu>. Proposals are encouraged from any student currently enrolled in a doctor of pharmacy program.

By Larry Kidder, MA

TODAY news for Thursday, April 6, 2006