Jacksonville students at the UF College of Pharmacy have adjusted well to a modified curriculum during COVID-19.
The University of Florida College of Pharmacy cemented its place among America’s best pharmacy colleges in 2020 when U.S. News & World Report ranked UF No. 5 nationally. It was the first time the UF College of Pharmacy appeared in the Top 5 of the U.S. News list since the publisher began ranking pharmacy colleges in 1997.
Under the leadership of Dean Julie Johnson, Pharm.D., the college continues to experience remarkable success on the national stage. For five consecutive years, the UF College of Pharmacy has led the nation in pharmacy students securing residency placements through the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists’ match program. The college also had a record-setting year, with $28.3 million in annual research funding, placing UF No. 3 nationally in National Institutes of Health funding, according to the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy rankings.
Faculty, staff and students at the UF College of Pharmacy’s Jacksonville campus played a significant role in achieving these major milestones. In addition, they are enriching the community through patient care and outreach efforts aimed at improving health.
ACHIEVING STUDENT SUCCESS DURING THE COVID-19 ERA
In a year filled with uncertainty and adversity, faculty and students in the UF College of Pharmacy responded remarkably well to the challenges COVID-19 presented. When the pandemic began, the college successfully moved its curriculum online, identified innovative ways for fourth-year students to complete their advanced clinical rotations and fulfilled a commitment to provide high-quality pharmacy education. In May, members of the class of 2020 gathered around their televisions and computers to commemorate their graduation day virtually. A ceremony honored all 262 Doctor of Pharmacy graduates, including 51 graduates from the Jacksonville campus.
In August, the class of 2024 safely gathered together for the first time as the UF College of Pharmacy hosted orientation for its first-year students. The required face masks could not hide the enthusiasm faculty and students shared for finally starting the new school year.
The College of Pharmacy welcomed 223 first-year students in the fall, with 37 of them studying on the Jacksonville campus. In-person instruction in the DuBow Family Foundation interactive classroom and the skills lab resumed as well in the fall, as faculty and staff embraced measures to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Finally, third-year Jacksonville students Wendy Caba Piloto and Julia Lessing are representing the college as members of the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists’ national student advisory groups. Caba Piloto serves on the Community and eCommunications Advisory Group, while Lessing is a member of the Career and Leadership Development Advisory Group. Each advisory group is made up of 18 or 19 student pharmacists from universities across the United States.
IMPROVING AND ENRICHING THE LIVES OF OUR COMMUNITY
When Alsco, a linen supply and uniform company in Jacksonville, wanted to educate its employees about the flu vaccine, they turned to the UF College of Pharmacy in Jacksonville and Panama Pharmacy for help. Pharmacists from both organizations developed a plan to bring a mobile vaccination unit to the local company. They answered questions from employees and nearly half of them were vaccinated during the visit. The event served as another example of how pharmacists are bringing positive change to the community.
A landmark celebrating the early history of the Florida Pharmacy Association, or FPA, was restored thanks to the efforts of Assistant Dean Carol Motycka, Pharm.D., and the UF College of Pharmacy’s Jacksonville campus. The plaque commemorates FPA’s first 100 years (1887–1987) and stood at the corner of Main and Adams streets in downtown Jacksonville for more than three decades.
After years of weathering, the plaque was removed from the site a couple years ago. Motycka, along with the Duval County Pharmacy Association and FPA, helped lead the restoration efforts and secured its new home in the Special Collections area of the Jacksonville Public Library. In the late 19th century, FPA and the library occupied the same building, until the Great Fire of 1901 destroyed downtown Jacksonville. The new home honors the shared history of the two organizations.
JESSICA HUSTON JOINS FACULTY
Jessica Huston, Pharm.D., joined the UF College of Pharmacy’s Jacksonville campus as a clinical assistant professor in May 2020. Huston received her bachelor’s degree in biology from UF and earned her Doctor of Pharmacy at Virginia Commonwealth University. She completed a postdoctoral fellowship in clinical research and pharmaceutical industry at the East Coast Institute for Research and served the college in an adjunct faculty role during her fellowship.
Huston facilitates the third-year skills lab and co-facilitates the second-year skills lab. She also serves on the college’s Admissions Committee and participates in several academic courses, including a newly developed industry pharmacy elective course. Her research interests include diabetes, heart failure, chronic kidney disease, hyperuricemia and melanoma.