ETSU, Ballad Health establish the Center for Pharmacy Education, Advocacy and Outreach

Published 2:51 pm Monday, May 23, 2022

JOHNSON CITY — East Tennessee State University Bill Gatton College of Pharmacy and Ballad Health are establishing a new center to improve the lives and health outcomes of people in the Appalachian Highlands.

Ballad Health has committed a $470,000 annual gift to the college to create the Center for Pharmacy Education, Advocacy and Outreach, which will broaden efforts to help better equip pharmacists to transform practice and to work with patient care team members across inpatient and outpatient settings to improve transitions of care on hospital admission, discharge and overall health outcomes.

“ETSU and Ballad Health share a long-standing commitment to improving the quality of life for the people of the Appalachian Highlands, and this is the focus of the Center,” said ETSU President Dr. Brian Noland. “We are grateful for Ballad’s support and for the opportunities to enhance the educational experience for our clinical students whose impact to the region will be profound.”

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“Ballad Health is committed to the multitude of partnerships we have developed with ETSU in pursuit of the best clinical experience for training tomorrow’s health care workforce,” said Ballad Health Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Alan Levine. “We remain grateful to all those who have worked so hard to develop and sustain the Gatton College of Pharmacy. This partnership is critical to ensuring our region leads in the development and use of the most effective treatments for our patients.”

Through the new center, ETSU and Ballad Health will work to develop simulation and laboratory education offerings and collaborate to develop and enhance curricula that include training in addiction, mental health and clinical transitions. It also will focus on preceptor development and developing training experiences for student pharmacists.

“Working alongside seasoned professionals in the field creates an invaluable educational experience for students, and we’re grateful that we can provide that practice and build relationships early on,” said Dr. Matthew Loos, Ballad Health’s chief academic officer. “Once students graduate and start working in pharmacy care on their own, they fall back on their training and studies, so we want to do everything we can to bolster that early understanding and proficiency, so they’re better served in the future.”

The center will be a catalyst for developing policy recommendations at the local, regional, state and national level in the areas of addiction and mental health, which are pressing concerns in rural America. It will work toward developing an annual conference in the region to address the latest in research and solutions to health care challenges and will collaborate on professional development and continuing education offerings.

The idea for the center grew from a series of conversations between Pharmacy leadership at Ballad Health and Dr. Debbie Byrd, dean of Bill Gatton College of Pharmacy. They recognized that there were opportunities in the way students are trained and in the way that ETSU faculty are integrated into the inpatient work environment.

“The center will help us to continue to strengthen pharmacists’ important role in the delivery of health care within the hospitals, during transition of care and in the communities,” said Byrd. “Our faculty will dedicate time to serve as integrated clinical specialists within Ballad facilities, and Ballad will provide preceptor availability and targeted experiential instruction for our student pharmacists. It is a win-win for these future pharmacists and for the patients they will serve.”

ETSU’s long-time commitment to interprofessional education and team-based care, as well as Gatton College of Pharmacy’s award-winning student programs focusing on naloxone training and community outreach, provide a foundation for the center’s efforts on preparing pharmacists for the critical role in interprofessional teams that care for patients with chronic pain, opioid use disorder and mental health disorders.

“ETSU is proud to partner with Ballad Health to take this innovative approach to training future pharmacists,” said Dr. Kimberly D. McCorkle, ETSU provost and senior vice president for Academics. “Our emphasis on interprofessional education and our history of developing progressive, team-oriented pharmacists create a strong framework for the center to build upon in order to meet its goals of education, advocacy and outreach.”