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New well-being initiative inspires competition at ETSU Bill Gatton College of Pharmacy

JOHNSON CITY — While there won’t be any flying Quidditch tournaments anytime soon, a new student well-being program at East Tennessee State University Bill Gatton College of Pharmacy is inspired by the competitive house model from Harry Potter and designed to help students soar to new heights throughout their pharmacy career.
The Gatton Wellbeing Program was created to foster mentorship, student leadership and personal growth through a friendly year-long tournament and is one of the first — if not the first — college of pharmacy program of its kind in the world, modeled on the highly successful “learning community” model pioneered by the Vanderbilt School of Medicine.
At Gatton College of Pharmacy, students, faculty and staff are sorted into houses named after individuals who helped found the college in 2005 and compete for points throughout the year to win the coveted House Cup. The Class of 2024 was sorted as part of Gatton Ready, a new two-week orientation program.
Houses are as follows:
  • Bishop Bears, in honor of Dr. Wilsie Bishop, senior vice president for academics and former vice president for health affairs;
  • Calhoun Cougars, in honor of Dr. Larry Calhoun, founding dean of Gatton College of Pharmacy;
  • Stanton Eagles, in honor of President Emeritus Dr. Paul E. Stanton Jr.; and
  • Wilson Wolves, in honor of Drs. Debra and Guy Wilson, owners of Wilson Pharmacy.
“The program models the importance of taking care of ourselves so we can best care for others,” said Dr. Nick Hagemeier, director of student professional development and associate professor and vice chair of Pharmacy Practice. “It’s undoubtedly a unique program among schools and colleges of pharmacy in the U.S. — and we’re just getting started!”
While guided by faculty and staff advisors (Hagemeier; Steve Ellis, assistant dean, Student Affairs; and Michele Graybeal, student life coordinator), the program is primarily led by the Student Wellbeing Committee. They are a group of students dedicated to the development of programming that promotes all the different aspects of well-being and can notice the needs of the student body as they arise. 
“The importance of well-being cannot be overstated,” said Taylor Coston (’22), president of the committee. “As students in a high-pressure professional school environment, we become so focused on our academic performance that we often unintentionally neglect to take care of ourselves. This can lead to a whole slew of negative consequences, including but not limited to anxiety, depression, substance use, burnout and compassion fatigue. Our hope is that this program can help provide students with the tools they need to invest in and protect their well-being, not only while they’re in school, but also throughout the course of their professional careers after graduation.”
Learn more about Gatton College of Pharmacy at www.etsu.edu/pharmacy.