UIC COP – In the Midst of Crisis, You Excel
Dear Alumni, Friends, Faculty, Staff, and Students,
While COVID-19 is disrupting life around the globe, the UIC College of Pharmacy family has banded together to address the challenges we face in ways that are unprecedented. The pandemic has pushed us all to take actions that might have seemed unlikely just weeks ago. Amid social distancing and self-isolation, we have rediscovered how connected we are to each other, and how important it is to reach out and support each other.
As I reflect on these extraordinary times, I’d like to recognize you — our alumni, donors, friends, faculty, staff, and students – for all that you are doing to support our mission of education, research, and service. Your dedication, creativity, humanity, courage, and in the face of everything – even humor, is awe-inspiring. I am humbled to be a witness to this.
Below are some examples of the new and innovative things that you are doing.
• New ways to teach and learn. For the health and safety of our students, we have moved all of our lecture courses online. Doing this in a short time period was a herculean effort on the part of our faculty. Fortunately, this College was already ahead of the game in the innovative use of classroom technology, making this transition easier. Our students, who are more technology-savvy than any of us, have also adapted quickly. Virtual chat-rooms, office hours, discussion boards, and other creative ways to connect, have replaced in-person contact – but the quality of education that we are known for has not changed.
• New ways to experience. Among the more difficult transitions in this crisis has been that of experiential education. The preceptors and practitioners who train our students in patient care have made tremendous efforts to continue to give those experiences in the face of this public health and clinical obstacles. Without their steadfast commitment and creative thinking, many of our 4th-year students would be delayed in graduating this year. By incorporating telemedicine and remote access to deliver pharmaceutical care, our students will not only complete their education but also receive an experience that is consistent with how pharmacy will be practiced in the future.
• New things to discover. The COVID-19 pandemic has been a major disruption to the research conducted in the College of Pharmacy. Only essential research is allowed to continue. But, as expected of an institution that is in the top 10 for research nationally, we have many talented faculty and staff that have found ways to continue their discoveries. Some research continues remotely – especially for those who use big data or existing data sets. Others are writing up results, papers, or new grant proposals. Importantly, we do have several researchers conducting projects that have received special approval to continue because they are focused on COVID-19. One project is investigating an ultrafast detection method for coronavirus using an engineered and allosterically regulated enzyme sensor. Another is examining inhibitors of a key protein in the virus that could result in an antiviral drug to treat COVID-19.
• New ways to serve patients. As you know, the UIC College of Pharmacy is more integrated into the healthcare system than any other school in the country. We run 7 ambulatory care pharmacies and the UI Hospital pharmacy. As a result, our pharmacists and clinicians are deeply embedded in the care being delivered here – from the ER and ICUs to our clinics. This crisis has impacted those services more than any other – just as all of healthcare. Faced with challenges that range from drug shortages to short-staffing, our dedicated staff on the frontlines have responded with new and innovative ways to connect patients with needed medications and pharmaceutical care.
• New ways to help. The Coronavirus pandemic is a health, financial, and humanitarian crisis, and people across the country are helping in a myriad of ways. I have received many emails and calls from our alumni asking how they can volunteer or help. Below are some of the options.
o Many pharmacies are currently short of staff due to illness and long hours and are looking for retired or part-time pharmacists to help. The Illinois Pharmacists Association has a website where you can register your willingness to work or volunteer. See https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/RPHrelief.
o Like all healthcare facilities, UI Health is short on personal protective equipment and other supplies. Click here to learn more about how you can aid UI Health’s COVID-19 response.
o The University of Illinois at Chicago has started a fund to help students, the fund will provide emergency funding for students in financial crises to alleviate food insecurity, subsidize lost income and cover mental health services. You can find more information here.
• New ways to excel. Despite the current challenges that we face, the UIC College of Pharmacy has continued to excel at what we do. It is evident in all that I have listed above, and in every member of the College community. It is also evident in our accomplishments. Like our repeat ranking among the top 10 in the U.S. News and World Report's rankings of Best Pharmacy Schools, released in March. We are ranked #1 in the state of Illinois and #7 in the Nation. See the complete rankings here. A new ranking from the Blue Ridge Institute for Medical Research also places the College at #7 in the country for NIH funding, noted here. And finally, early results from the ASHP residency match show that our P4 students did very well. Students in the class of 2020 will be pursuing residencies and fellowship at hospitals, managed care organizations, community pharmacies, in ambulatory care, and at pharmaceutical companies all across the US.
In closing, let me say that while this is a time of immense turmoil and disruption in our lives—we are in this together. Our greatest strength is our community—our caring, compassionate, and dedicated faculty, staff, and students, and our wonderfully supportive alumni and donors. We will miss seeing each other in person, but we can still find ways to connect and celebrate each other. Finally, if you or a loved one is sick or has succumbed to the virus, please know that our hearts go out to you.
Thank you for your support and please stay safe and healthy.
Glen T. Schumock, PharmD, MBA, PhD, FCCP
Dean, University of Illinois at Chicago College of Pharmacy
Professor, Department of Pharmacy Systems, Outcomes and Policy
P.S. UIC experts continue to serve as a trusted resource of quality guidance and information. You might find it helpful to follow us on Social media and to be aware of UIC COVID-19 Resources and Updates.