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Deans' Corner


Southern California College of Optometry

As I write my first Dean’s message, it is difficult to believe that I’ve been on the job for just a few months. I’ve learned so much, made so many new friends, but still have a long way to go.

For the time being I’m living in a furnished vacation rental in Newport Beach. I was able to drive into town, unload the car, visit the supermarket and then immediately focus all my attention on leading SCCO. The commute is bearable — if I time it right — and gives me time to reflect and plan. Here’s what I’ve learned thus far.

We have some gifted young faculty. I’m inspired by the interactions I’ve had, learning about their passion for teaching, leadership and research. One of my joys is mentoring these colleagues to reach their goals and to better serve the College and our students.

We recruit fabulous students. Our first-year class is third in the nation — behind only Berkeley and SUNY — based on OAT scores. This is no anomaly. We’re consistently in the top tier alongside public institutions like Houston and Ohio State. I love speaking with applicants and pre-optometry clubs.

Our students do amazing things. One of my many pinch-me moments was learning that Annabelle Storch, Class of ’19, was elected President of the American Optometric Students Association, representing 8,000 students across the country. I’ve also listened to poised presentations, seen our local community served and seen video of a phoropter-based marriage proposal.

I have work to do. Whether it’s striving to improve our board scores, updating our training facilities, reviewing our curriculum, recruiting new faculty or attending memorial services for alumni, my days are full. And so is my heart.

School of PA Studies

In the School of PA Studies, commitment to our students, our alumni and our community are essential. We are dedicated to giving all students experiences in caring for underserved communities; and we recognize the importance of giving back through service. From their very first day at MBKU, students participate in experiences based on our program values and those tenets are reinforced throughout their experiences in the program.

We are certain that our graduates have the compassion, dedication and knowledge to transform lives. Our second class graduated from the School of PA Studies on Nov. 11, 2017. Every student provided health care for an underserved community during clinical rotations. They also developed and implemented projects locally to support a healthier population.

For the second time, we are proud to announce a 100% pass rate on the PA National Certifying Exam. The graduates are quickly establishing themselves in their new practice locations, and we are excited to watch their careers develop.

To strengthen our community-focused initiative, planning is well underway to open the Family Medicine Clinic at Ketchum Health. Brandon Grove, MD, is leading the charge as Medical Director, and PA faculty and students will work together to provide quality health care. The clinic will also provide an opportunity for all three MBKU professions, PA, optometry and pharmacy, to practice together in an interprofessional setting. For students, the clinic provides a pathway to put what they have learned in the classroom into action.

We are enthused to have an avenue for students to experience what interprofessional collaborative practice truly means. We are excited to see what the future holds for the School of PA Studies. Together, we will create new opportunities for collaboration and partnerships with our colleagues, patients and communities.

College of Pharmacy

In the fall of 2017, Marshall B. Ketchum University’s College of Pharmacy welcomed the creation of a California Pharmacist Association (CPhA) Chapter as the first pharmacy student organization. As the Association’s newest affiliated student chapter, MBKU pharmacy students are enjoying the CPhA Academy of Student Pharmacist activities and initiatives throughout the year. Together, student members from all 13 California Schools of Pharmacy will work to advance the CPhA’s mission to engage and empower their peers to build a healthier community and advance the profession.

Additionally, the College is well along the way to enrolling our third cohort of students. Recently, we hired our new Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Dr. Javad Tafreshi, and our new Chair of Social and Administrative Sciences and Interim Chair of the Department of Pharmacy Practice, Dr. Elvin Hernandez. Everyone is excited and pleased to have these two seasoned educators as our new administrators.

Two faculty members and four MBKU pharmacy students participated in our first free health screening fair on Jan. 28, 2018, in the Value Scripts Pharmacy, located in Westminster, Calif. Students provided counseling to community members on cardiac care and glucose management.

The faculty and staff of the College of Pharmacy have been working diligently on constructing a self-study in preparation for our April site visit from the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education in order to advance to Candidate Status. This was a very momentous achievement in the College’s history.