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Ross Uses Knowledge from Harvard Sabbatical to Strengthen Ferris' Doctor of Pharmacy Program

College of Pharmacy

Ferris State University College of Pharmacy professor Mary Frances Ross says health care is on the edge of global change and is working to help the university’s newly-revised Doctor of Pharmacy curriculum meet that challenge.

“Health care is a global and multidisciplinary issue, and our students need to realize that and be equipped to function in a global and team environment,” said Ross, a professor of clinical practice who has worked for Ferris since 1989.

Mary Frances RossRoss recently completed a master’s degree in Public Health, Health and Social Behavior at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass., during a sabbatical granted by the university from Fall 2011 through Summer 2012. Her goal was to obtain further training in prevention, health initiatives and disparities on community and global levels.

“The courses that I took in my concentration and specialty were all things that I’m hoping will be very beneficial,” said Ross, a Detroit native who earned a bachelor’s degree in Pharmacy from Wayne State University in 1983 and a Doctor of Pharmacy from the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio in 1986.

Ross said she plans to integrate the knowledge she received at Harvard to train Ferris College of Pharmacy students during their Ambulatory Care rotation. She has been teaching in that experiential rotation since 1995 and at the Family Health Center in Kalamazoo since 2001. The Ambulatory Care rotation is instructed on a practice site where students in the last year of the program help in assessing patients during clinical visits.

In the fall, Ross will teach at Ferris’ new College of Pharmacy Center for Innovative Learning and Research on Grand Rapids’ Medical Mile. The new facility, which celebrated its grand opening in February, supports the college’s curriculum, which emphasizes early opportunities to experience professional practice.

“At Harvard, I was able to concentrate in the area of Health and Social Behavior, and further specialize in Health Communication,” Ross said. “I think we need to broaden students’ exposure to bigger issues looking at populations instead of individuals, as well as improve their communication skills.”

During the past 30 years, the practice of pharmacy has seen an increase in technology and medical options for patients, Ross said. Therefore, she believes future pharmacy students will need stronger communication skills to persuade patients to adhere to medical treatments and lifestyle changes than in previous years.

“The majority of pharmacists will continue to work in their local communities, but the problems are the same as on the global front,” she said. “We will need to work together as a health-care team to solve them.”

Ferris’ College of Pharmacy has been recognized as an accredited institution by the Michigan Board of Pharmacy since 1893 and is the principle source of pharmacy practitioners in Michigan. It is the only college of pharmacy on the west side of the state.