School of Pharmacy

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An older adult looks toward the camera while a student vaccinates him against COVID-19 at the VCU Health Hub at 25th.

This fall, the Academy for Gerontology in Higher Education (AGHE), part of the Gerontological Society of America, awarded VCU School of Pharmacy’s Pharm.D. program a designation as a Program of Merit for Health Professions, making it the first Pharm.D. program in the country to earn that designation.

Emily Peron, Pharm.D., (left) accepts the Program of Merit for Health Professions designation from the Academy for Gerontology in Higher Education for VCU’s Doctor of Pharmacy program at the Gerontological Society of America Annual Scientific Meeting on Nov. 9.

Emily Peron, Pharm.D., M.S., an associate professor in the Department of Pharmacotherapy and Outcomes Science, accepted the Program of Merit for Health Professions designation from the AGHE for VCU School of Pharmacy’s Doctor of Pharmacy program at the Gerontological Society of America Annual Scientific Meeting in Tampa, Florida, in November.

According to AGHE, which has awarded this designation to just four health professions programs across the country, the designation recognizes excellence in gerontology and geriatrics education.

“The VCU School of Pharmacy’s Geriatric Pharmacotherapy Program and faculty are already recognized nationally for practice and education innovation and for research advancing the field of geriatric pharmacotherapy,” said K.C. Ogbonna, Pharm.D., M.S.H.A., dean and professor at the VCU School of Pharmacy. “This AGHE designation as a program of merit adds to our already-strong reputation in this field and in preparing graduates who are ready to serve older adults.”

VCU’s Pharm.D. program of merit designation, Peron and her team say, is in part due to the more than 30-year partnership with the Department of Gerontology in VCU’s College of Health Professions to offer a Certificate in Aging Studies dual degree and to offer a Geriatrics elective and Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experience rotation at VCU School of Pharmacy, led by faculty in the School of Pharmacy’s Geriatric Pharmacotherapy Program.

Leveraging the longstanding partnership with the School of Nursing and other health professional schools through the Mobile Health and Wellness Program, students in the School of Pharmacy gain unique and valuable experiences working holistically with older adults experiencing adverse social drivers of health in the Richmond region, said Patty Slattum, Pharm.D., Ph.D., director emerita of the Geriatric Pharmacotherapy Program. AGHE noted this partnership as a strength of VCU’s Pharm.D. program.

“The AGHE Program of Merit designation offers students at VCU School of Pharmacy the opportunity to gain additional skills and experience in the care of older adults and be recognized with a certificate from the Gerontological Society of America upon graduation,” said Slattum, who serves as interim associate dean for research and graduate studies at the School of Pharmacy. “With the growing older adult population in the U.S. and the rising number of those experiencing multiple chronic health conditions who need help managing their medications, graduates of our program will be well-positioned to meet future health care needs.”

In addition to being AGHE’s first Pharm.D. Program of Merit, VCU’s program is the first in Virginia to earn this designation.

Peron, Slattum and fellow School of Pharmacy faculty Ericka Crouse, Pharm.D., Krista Donohoe, Pharm.D., Elvin Price, Pharm.D., Ph.D., and Kristin Zimmerman, Pharm.D., worked to align VCU’s Pharm.D. program with the standards required for this designation. Their work allows the School of Pharmacy to better prepare students for the future of working with older adults.

VCU’s commitment to educating the next generation of pharmacists about geriatrics and gerontology sets it apart, Peron said.

“Our status as the first pharmacy school to ever receive this designation is incredibly meaningful,” Peron said. “It was an honor to accept the recognition on behalf of the VCU School of Pharmacy and the Geriatric Pharmacotherapy Program more specifically, as our team has worked hard over the years to develop and retain geriatrics and gerontology content within the curriculum, which culminated in our application for the AGHE Program of Merit designation. We look forward to continuing to promote geriatrics and gerontology education across the university and to set the tone for pharmacy education around the world.”

Learn more about our Pharm.D. program.
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