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Walter Siganga

Walter Siganga
Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences

Dr. Walter Siganga, professor of pharmaceutical sciences, offers an unfamiliar experience to his pharmacy students. “Students come into this program to learn how to become practitioners, and they often forget that pharmacy is a business,” Siganga said. “I teach them how to run a business.”

Siganga understands that this aspect of pharmacy can be a little harder for students to understand. Because of this, he centers his teaching philosophy on student engagement. “I have always found it incredibly important for students to work together to be successful pharmacists and business managers,” Siganga said. “With the new Affordable Care Act pushing health care professionals to rely on one another, my goal is to encourage group collaboration even more.”

One of his projects involves student groups creating a business plan. Although a challenging task, Siganga believes it is the most rewarding for students. Students develop a written document that provides detailed descriptions of a business operation, including past performance, current status, future goals and the means to achieve those goals.

The purpose is to collaboratively think through the necessary steps for developing a business plan for opening a pharmacy. Students attempt to create potential business opportunities that could be implemented as a result of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. SIUE pharmacy students have used these business plans to win state and national competitions.

Siganga enjoys seeing students thrive in his class and maintains contact with students even after they graduate. “A lot of students still call on me for business advice, although some just call to keep me updated with their lives,” said Siganga. “It is quite rewarding to know that they are implementing what they learned while they were with the SIUE School of Pharmacy.”

Radhika Devraj

Dr. Radhika Devraj
Associate Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences

The National Assessment of Adult Literacy (NAAL) found that 36 percent of the U.S. population has limited health literacy. That means that more than 80 million adults may have trouble reading or understanding pertinent health care information.

Dr. Radhika Devraj, associate professor of pharmaceutical sciences, is dedicated to helping the health care community understand this issue through her research. In addition, she also teaches pharmacy students about the importance of health literacy with hope that they will help to overcome the negative effect it has on the health and safety of millions of Americans.  Recently, Devraj has conducted research exploring the role of health literacy in chronic kidney disease (CKD) patients.

“Although health literacy has gained attention as a public health issue, it has not been closely studied with regard to CKD,” said Devraj. “Patient’s self-management behaviors with diet, exercise, fluid intake and medication adherence are so important to prevent progression of CKD. This research will help us understand the connection between health literacy, patient knowledge of self-management behaviors and clinical outcomes of kidney disease (eGFR).”

Marcelo Nieto

Dr. Marcelo Nieto
Associate Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences

Dr. Marcelo Nieto, associate professor of pharmaceutical sciences, has dedicated his research efforts to the synthesis, purification and identification of novel anti-infective agents. According to the Center for Disease Control, more than 70 percent of hospital-acquired infections are now resistant to commonly used drugs. The threat of this issue is intensified by the steady decline in the number of new FDA-approved antibiotics on the market.

This research is critical for the future of public health and the treatment of disease. Nieto also sees it as an important experience for the pharmacy students who have been involved.

“I think that this kind of project gives students a lot of respect for the drugs that they are going to be dispensing,” said Nieto. “The ultimate goal is to develop an effective drug for the treatment of bacterial infections. We are looking at the structural qualities of existing agents and creating a library of this information to be used in the development of new drugs. Students are able to see first-hand that developing new drugs is difficult and that it takes time.”

Scott Bergman

Dr. Scott Bergman
Associate Professor of Pharmacy Practice

Dr. Scott Bergman, associate professor of pharmacy practice, had a specific objective in mind to advance the pharmacy education of infectious diseases at SIUE: establish a post-graduate year two (PGY2) pharmacy residency. In the spring of 2012, Bergman's goal was realized when he became the program director for the Infectious Diseases Pharmacotherapy Residency at St. John's Hospital in Springfield, Ill.

Through the assistance of a grant from the Society of Infectious Disease Pharmacists, Bergman designed the PGY2 residency to build upon the competencies developed by a post-graduate year one (PGY1) pharmacy residency. This PGY2 residency, completed in one year, provides a structured education and training experience for pharmacists looking to develop additional clinical expertise in infectious disease pharmacotherapy. Students are immersed in a progressive clinical environment where there is substantial opportunity for direct patient care and consultation.

"The Pharm.D. curriculum is a great introduction to infectious disease and prepares students to perform the basics," Bergman said. "Residencies take the students to a more advanced level. In the PGY2, we will focus on critical thinking. Not only are the students asked to report what they see, but they are asked to interpret and analyze so they are able to customize recommendations for specific patients.

“Residents and I will go on patient care rounds with the infectious disease physicians and recommend doses and durations of antibiotics, monitor for side effects, and check for drug interactions. We see patients with the most difficult to treat infections.

“Its a rewarding opportunity for students to work with multidisciplinary teams and be a part of the prescribing process."

Upon completion of the specialty PGY2 residency program, the residents will possess the knowledge and skills to function as independent clinical practitioners and members of a multidisciplinary team to provide patient-centered care for patients with infectious diseases and to improve the utilization of antimicrobial stewardship, or the appropriate use of antibiotics and prescribing practices toward evidence-based choices. The dual focus of the program on infectious diseases and teaching will prepare residents to become effective educators of pharmacotherapeutic topics in the practice area of infectious diseases in the clinical and academic setting.

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