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PCP Placed Their 'Best Bets' at PPA Annual Conference

By Lauren Whetzel-Siburkis

ppa conference group photo

Students, faculty and alumni of Philadelphia College of Pharmacy united for the Pennsylvania Pharmacists Association (PPA) Annual Conference, held Oct. 1-4, 2015, in Harrisburg. More than a dozen student-pharmacists participated in the leadership seminars and continuing education activities as well as engaged in residency lectures and showcases, all centered around the conference theme, “Pharmacists: The Best Bet to Patient Care.” They particularly enjoyed networking with pharmacists and pharmacy students from across Pennsylvania.

Terry Pak PharmD’16, Kevin Pak PharmD’19, Justin Mathew PharmD’16, and Nirali Patel PharmD’17 teamed up to showcase their pharmacy skills in the “Achieving Independence Competition,” which was held during the conference. This student competition was established in 2009 as a way to encourage creativity and interest in pharmacy ownership.

PCP alumnus Eric R. Esterbrook P'98, owner of Esterbrook Pharmacy in Reading, Pa., served as the team’s independent pharmacy coach. As a pharmacist and entrepreneur for more than 20 years, Esterbrook was able to share valuable insight with the students that, ultimately, helped them develop an organized and detailed presentation. Faculty advisor Dr. Henry M. Schwartz, director of community pharmacy practice experiences at USciences, also helped to prepare the students for the competition.

A total of five pharmacy schools, including PCP, participated in the competition and each presented interesting concepts for opening a new pharmacy or purchasing an existing one. Although the team did not take home the top prize, they did celebrate the achievement of their clinical pharmacy professor, Dr. Karleen Melody.

Dr. Melody was named the 2015 Distinguished Young Pharmacist for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania during the PPA Leadership Dinner on Saturday, Oct. 3. The Distinguished Young Pharmacist Award, presented by Pharmacists Mutual Companies, is an annual award in each state designed to acknowledge young pharmacists for individual excellence and outstanding contribution to their pharmacy association and community.  

During her time at USciences, Dr. Melody has established clinical practice sites across West Philadelphia at SunRay Drugs, an independent pharmacy; and Sayre Health Center, a federally-qualified health center. Clinical services that she provides include medication therapy management, disease state management and immunizations.

“We placed our best bet at the annual PPA Conference and although we did not win first place in the student competition, we can say, with certainty, that we received much more in return,” said Swawa Thomas PharmD’18.

As for now, Thomas said the PCP students are looking forward to attending the PPA Midyear Conference in January so that they can continue to expand their knowledge and network.

Alumni Highlights from the PPA Annual Conference:

  • Julie Gerhart-Rothholz P'94 received the 2015 J. Allen Duffield Pharmaceutical Industry Award. This award is presented to a pharmacy professional who represents contributions to the betterment of the profession of pharmacy as well as supports the programs and activities of PPA.

    Gerhart-Rothholz began her career as a clinical consultant and medical editor at Springhouse Corporation and hovered between a clinical pharmacist and a community pharmacist in the years that followed. She currently works at Medvantage Publishing as a clinical consultant and Merck & Company, Inc., and has been actively involved in PPA since 2005.
  • Rosemarie Halt P'89, MPH'12 received the 2015 George H. Searight Community Service Award. This award is presented to an individual who enhances the image of the profession of pharmacy by demonstrating outstanding devotion and service to their community and PPA.

    Since her days at pharmacy school, Halt's dedication to service has been unwavering. She has received multiple awards from USciences, including the Student Service Award in 1989 and Young Alumnus Award in 2000. She has also been an active member in the Delaware County Pharmacists Association since 1996.

Categories: News, Feature Story, Alumni, Students, Awards and Honors, Philadelphia College of Pharmacy, Department of Pharmacy Practice, Pharmacy, Pharmacy Administration