“Our goal is to help our students become well-rounded health professionals who can treat the whole patient and the whole community.”
—Dr. Lesley Hallick
President, Pacific University
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The College of Optometry is a key participant with the rest of Pacific’s healthcare programs in the city-designated Health & Education District, which includes Tuality Healthcare, the Virginia Garcia Memorial Clinic, Portland Community College and the City of Hillsboro. Case in point: the Interprofessional Diabetes Clinic at HPC. The clinic, which sees low-income, mostly Latino clients, is a partnership with Virginia Garcia, Tuality Healthcare and the Essential Health Clinic, a free urgent care facility for low-income patients. The diabetes clinic involves students, faculty and staff from all of Pacific’s healthcare programs.
In addition to Diabetes Clinic participation, Smythe is working with optometry faculty on possible curriculum enhancements that further embrace the integrated approach. Also, she said, University planners are looking forward to optometry at HPC to help foster more of a campus feel and to add critical mass to Pacific’s healthcare effort.
Not that things are sleepy now. In some parts of the campus, there is a studious quiet. In others, small groups meet in a side room, while a larger class takes place across the hall. On another floor, some students peer at their laptops in common areas while others grab a quick bite to eat and talk about assignments. On the ground floor of Creighton Hall, there’s a steady flow of people to and from the Virginia Garcia Clinic, the EyeClinic and EyeTrends and the 8th Avenue Bistro coffee shop.
That activity is likely to increase. Ann Barr, vice provost and executive dean of the College of Health Professions, said a number of new programs and initiatives are on the way. By the fall of 2012, Pacific will have a doctoral program in audiology, pending regional and professional accreditation. The new program will tie closely with the College of Education and its new master’s degree program in speech-language pathology. Professional psychology is adding a new Ph.D. program that will focus on stress and anxiety disorders. In addition, the School of Occupational Therapy is in the midst of a top-to-bottom review that likely will result in retooled or new degree offerings.
Audiology will follow a modified block curriculum, currently used by most of Pacific’s graduate healthcare programs and some undergraduate science programs. The approach involves content areas taught in short blocks of time. Students must master one block before moving on to the next one. They work collaboratively through a block and get extra points for demonstrating group proficiency of the topic. “It’s a very powerful model for learning,” said Barr. It also helps graduates pass licensing tests, she said, with both Physician Assistant Studies and pharmacy classes recently recording 90 percent pass rates.
Like many others, Barr is looking forward to building three. In addition to optometry, the new building will allow for expansion of other Pacific programs, more collaborative study spaces and common areas to add to the growing community synergy, she said. “It will really complete our interprofessional hub for healthcare education.”