What will 20/20 hindsight tell us about our choices in 2020? The pandemic’s potential impact on the future of pharmacy

Dean Hall
June 03, 2020
Dean Philip Hall, MUSC College of Pharmacy

Hindsight tells us that when Alexander Fleming discovered mold in his petri dish in 1928, he found something that he wasn’t expecting and would save hundreds of millions of lives.

We weren’t expecting our 2020 curriculum to include a practicum on pandemics. We weren’t expecting our faculty to teach from their porches or our studentsto get their hoods on YouTube. We weren’t expecting our alumni to treat masked patients from behind plexiglass. Now that we’ve discovered the unexpected mold, how do we turn it into penicillin?

The path of discovery

Turning a discovery into practice takes time, imagination, and resources. Scientists discovered penicillin’s effectiveness against the deadly streptococcus bacteria in the early 1940s. But it took corn steep facilities, a rotten melon from a Peoria fruit market, the support of the Rockefeller Foundation, and the investment of industry to make it a game changer.

Online classes, working remotely, virtual events – like Fleming’s petri dish, these are elements we’ve had in the lab all along but are now looking at in a new way. For instance, we may discover opportunities to expand our reach, improve the work-life balance for employees, or create better efficiencies in our physical plant needs. It’s time to use our imagination.

More importantly, as the world adjusts to the multi-year impact of the 2020 pandemic, we can reimagine our program for the future. Relying on the foundation and tradition of excellence that has created the MUSC experience for 140 years, we can invest in the areas that will give students, faculty, and alumni a chance to make the highest possible impact in improving health.

The past few months have offered plenty of social, economic, and operational challenges. The easiest thing to do is to lament the change, deal with the present as best as possible, and wait for normality to return. Just as the easiest thing for Fleming to do was lament the mess, wash out the petri dish, and go back to work in a tidier lab. Investigating that mold meant the difficult decision of shelving some things he was doing and changing his focus. With 20-20 hindsight, we can see he made the right choice and revolutionized medicine.

What will our 20/20 hindsight tell us about our choices in 2020?

In a time where there seems to be more questions than answers, I remain committed to you, the MUSC Pharmacy family, to continue fostering an environment of innovation, impact, and influence within the MUSC College of Pharmacy. Your College of Pharmacy will continue to leverage our strengths in education, research, and patient care as we discover hidden reserves of innovation, solve problems we previously believed were unsolvable, and look ahead to an unclear landscape.

I hope you will join me in reimagining our profession and pharmacy education in the post-COVID environment. Please know that your support – as alumni, donors, and advocates – is the foundation for changing what’s possible.

About the Author

Dean Hall

Keywords: College News