HSOP Alumni Involved in New Curriculum

Dr. Jacob Johnson in front of the room talking to the class

April 30, 2018

AUBURN, Alabama – The Harrison School of Pharmacy (HSOP) rolled out a new, innovative and engaging curriculum in the fall of 2017. All disciplines within HSOP collaborated to develop and deliver an integrated curriculum with a strong focus on a practical, team-based approach to learning.

HSOP students are also getting a healthier dose of instruction from what they aspire to be- a practicing pharmacist.

In the curriculum, HSOP students learn in comprehensive courses known as Integrated Learning Experiences (ILEs). These courses bring together faculty from various departments, such as Pharmacy Practice, Drug Discovery and Development and Health Outcomes Research and Policy, providing the opportunity for disease states and drugs to be taught in an integrated manner.

While alumni and practicing pharmacists speaking to classes is not a new thing at HSOP, ILE course coordinators are making a concerted effort to engage alumni so they can illustrate the practical application of the basic sciences in the profession. An example of this focus came recently when Dr. Jacob Johnson, a 2004 HSOP graduate and co-owner of Marble City Pharmacy in Sylacauga, Alabama, introduced pharmaceutical compounding in the community pharmacy setting to the Class of 2021.

“It is always an honor to be able to do anything to help HSOP and its amazing student pharmacists, but being asked to come back to campus and speak to a class in a teaching role is especially thrilling,” said Johnson. “Every time I set foot inside the building, I am impressed by the facilities, but even more so by the professionalism of the student pharmacists that I encounter.  It is certainly encouraging to witness first-hand the work ethic and dedication of the next generation of Auburn pharmacists, and I believe that I benefit more than the students from my appearances at the school.”

Marble City Pharmacy is a family-owned, independent pharmacy where medication compounding is just one of a wide range of pharmacy services that Jacob and his family provide for Marble City Pharmacy’s patients. Jacob is fortunate to work with his father Danny Johnson (‘72)  who is the founding owner of the pharmacy and still watches over the family’s business, and his brother and co-owner, Dr. Jared Johnson (’01).

The entire Marble City pharmacist team are HSOP graduates with Dr. Daniel Allison (’12), and Dr. Shelly Smith (’02) rounding out the team. Jared’s wife, Dr. Holly Johnson (’01), is also an Auburn HSOP alum!

“Pharmaceutical compounding is simply the art of combining both active and inactive ingredients in specified quantities to form a final pharmaceutical preparation that meets the needs of a specific patient as prescribed by their physician, as opposed to simply using a commercially available drug product,” Johnson explained. “I was exposed to compounding at both of the pharmacies where I worked before I attended pharmacy school, and then chose to attend extra compounding training at the American College of Apothecaries when I started working at my current location.”

Along with more interaction during the prescribing process, Johnson enjoys the opportunity to show what pharmacists are capable of behind the counter.

“I love the more involved interactions with both the prescriber and the patient that compounding requires,” said Johnson. “Many of these prescriptions necessitate conversations with the physician and patient that give me an opportunity to demonstrate the level of knowledge that pharmacists possess and shine a positive light on our profession.”

During his visit, Johnson told a story of receiving a call from a physician with a special request. A local surgeon needed a compounded wound cream for a patient and actually brought Johnson back to the exam room to examine the patient and offer his opinion. After completing his examination, Johnson returned to the pharmacy and compounded a cream. Both patient and physician were very pleased with the results.

When asked what the most unusual compounded preparation that he has made in his pharmacy, Johnson replied that he often makes “Beetle Juice Wart Treatment” for local physicians to use within their offices.  The compounded preparation contains a natural compound that is secreted in nature by blister beetles.

“Stories like these captivated the students’ attention.  They were definitely intrigued and ready to learn more”, said Dr. Kimberly Braxton Lloyd who is a professor in pharmacy practice and one of the ILE course coordinators.

With his extensive knowledge of and passion for compounding, Johnson was an obvious person to turn to when the time came to introduce students to pharmaceutical compounding in the community pharmacy setting.  Johnson’s presentation and interactive discussion with the students set the stage for a week of integrated training on the pharmaceutical sciences, jurisprudence, calculations, and clinical applications of non-sterile compounding in community pharmacy.  Johnson’s goal was to show the P1 students the practical application of what they were about to learn throughout the week. 

“I wanted the P1 students to hear how the coursework we were about to engage in applied to community pharmacy practice directly from a successful HSOP alum. Dr. Johnson’s pride in his work and enthusiasm for patient care was refreshing and sparked the P1 students’ interest in learning more about the topic,” said Dr. Braxton Lloyd. “Dr. Johnson described how the foundational knowledge that is emphasized early in the Practice Ready Curriculum is applied and utilized in community pharmacy practice.  For instance, he told the students how important it is to master pharmaceutical calculations; to learn how to evaluate the physiochemical properties of the active pharmaceutical ingredient (API); and to learn the role of excipients or inactive ingredients in a compounded preparation so that they will know how to prepare a specialized dosage form in the future.”

During his presentation, Johnson showed pictures of his own pharmacy, compounding room, compounding equipment, and told stories about his own experience with patient care through his compounding services.  After he completed his introduction, an interdisciplinary team of professors stepped in to begin teaching students the background material that Dr. Johnson emphasized was important.

Three different faculty members spearheaded the introduction to non-sterile compounding. While Dr. Braxton Lloyd is a professor in the Department of Pharmacy Practice and the Assistant Dean of Health Services, two of the other faculty members involved in this week of learning were Dr. Jay Ramapuram and Dr. Feng Li, both specialists in pharmaceutics from the Department of Drug Discovery and Development. Additionally, Dr. Braxton Lloyd pulled in Dr. Greg Peden (’08), who is the Director of Community Pharmacy Services within HSOP’s Pharmacy Health Services to assist with teaching certain aspects of the course.

Dr. Braxton Lloyd and Dr. Peden introduced the students to a commercially available community pharmacy dispensing software program, and taught the students how to enter data into the system (such as prescriber data, new patient data, and insurance data), and how to process a prescription for a compounded product.  Students were able to practice generating labels, calculating “beyond use dates,” and selecting auxiliary labels to apply to the compounded products.

The interplay between these basic science professors and community practitioners gave the students a broad exposure to how pharmacists use the basic sciences for pharmaceutical compounding in an innovative, integrated, side-by-side teaching format. 

With a curriculum so focused on preparing students to enter pharmacy practice that it is named the “Practice Ready Curriculum,” this integrated approach to student education is imperative to provide our students the frame of reference to consider as they learn the knowledge and skills of the pharmacy profession.

“An essential part of any education is exposure to ‘real life’ scenarios, and nowhere is that more true than in pharmacy,” said Johnson. “As good as HSOP is at guiding students in their advanced learning, increased exposure to various aspects of their chosen profession and learning from the experience of others that have gone before them is an increasingly vital component of the full educational experience in the healthcare environment of tomorrow.”


About the Harrison School of Pharmacy

Auburn University’s Harrison School of Pharmacy is ranked among the top 20 percent of all pharmacy schools in the United States, according to U.S. News & World Report. Fully accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE), the School offers doctoral degrees in pharmacy (Pharm.D.) and pharmaceutical sciences (Ph.D.) while also offering a master’s in pharmaceutical sciences. For more information about the School, please call 334.844.8348 or visit http://pharmacy.auburn.edu.

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Last Updated: April 30, 2018