Dr. Jeanine Mount, MCPHS Associate Provost for Academic and Professional Affairs

Staff Spotlight: Dr. Jeanine Mount, Associate Provost for Academic and Professional Affairs

  • Last year, Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (MCPHS) welcomed Dr. Jeanine K. Mount as Associate Provost for Academic and Professional Affairs and Clinical Professor of Pharmacy.

    She most recently served as Associate Dean at Bouvé College of Health Sciences at Northeastern University and Associate Dean for Student and Academic Affairs, co-director of the pharmaceutical history and policy center, and Hammel/Sanders distinguished professor in the School of Pharmacy at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

    As an educator and an administrator, Dr. Mount is passionate about fostering the success of students and empowering them to go on to successful and meaningful careers.

    "Higher education gives you a chance to see, and live vicariously through, the successes of your students. I see that as a privilege," said Dr. Mount.

    In her role at MCPHS, Dr. Mount is responsible for cross-campus student retention, as well as the oversight and evaluation of teaching effectiveness, instructional technology, faculty development, and interprofessional education.

    We sat down with Dr. Mount to learn more about her background, learn some of her upcoming plans for the University, and hear her insight into why interprofessional education is an integral part of the future of healthcare education.

    Welcome to MCPHS, Dr. Mount! Would you like to start by telling us a little about your career background and journey?

    I grew up in Kentucky, did my undergraduate and graduate work at Purdue, then spent 28 years as a faculty member at the University of Wisconsin-Madison from 1985 to 2013, when I moved to Boston. After working for a time at Northeastern, I made the move in July to MCPHS. There have been some larger themes at play over the course of my career that are mirrored in the landscape of pharmacy. While I was earning my BS in pharmacy, I became interested in big, system-wide questions about healthcare, which led to my earning an MS and then a PhD in Sociology. This was considered quite a jump at the time; pharmacy was (and still is!) a very chemistry-based hard science. Very few people from pharmacy went into the social side of science. That has changed, but it’s not that the physical or biological side of science has become less important; it’s that new muscle has been developed. We now look at patients not solely as clinical beings in isolation, but also as social beings who operate in a particular place and time. I think we have achieved a much better balance—and as a result of this shift in viewpoints, we don’t work in isolation any more, but as part of a provider community.

    Can you tell us about some career highlights or accomplishments of which you’re particularly proud?

    I don’t usually reflect on things I’m particularly proud of—I think instead about things I find enjoyable. One part of my career I’ve found particularly enjoyable is the opportunity to work with an array of incredibly talented grad students. When you work closely with grad students, they become like family. I have students scattered all over the world, and feel privileged to have learned about their lives, both at work and at home; their cultures; their backgrounds. This sense of gratitude has been on my mind lately, because my last PhD student just defended his dissertation. Another former student is being interviewed this week to become department chair, and yet another for an academic promotion. Higher education gives you a chance to see, and live vicariously through, the successes of your students. I see that as a privilege.

    What appealed to you specifically about MCPHS and the role you’ll be able to play here?

    What gets me up in the morning, what gets me excited, is health professions education. I know of no institution more singularly dedicated to that goal than MCPHS—and that single focus means that, as an administrator, I don’t need to balance resources between what the engineers want, and what the math majors want, and what the English majors want. It’s all about health and health professions here, and consequently what I value is very much in tune with what the University values. That makes it easy to do my job.

    What excites you about the current landscape in higher education, and pharmaceutical education specifically? What are some trends you think MCPHS is well positioned to capitalize on?

    While my degree is in pharmacy, I have responsibility across all parts of the institution. I get to work with people from all backgrounds, which is exciting because MCPHS faculty and students have such a remarkable array of backgrounds. There’s the potential to make real inroads in some of the thorniest problems that healthcare providers face. One area I’m really interested in is the interprofessional area: we are trying to graduate students who are not just practice-ready, but interprofessional practice-ready. Given the array of programs and faculty at MCPHS, and the richness of the Longwood Medical Area and Boston in terms of healthcare organizations, this is a great place to be situated. The Worcester and Manchester campuses enjoy similar opportunities for engaging with their communities. The interprofessional world is a second landscape for healthcare students; you now have to learn not only your own field, but now must stretch to learn the “other” fields as well. This is a challenge that mirrors what we’re all doing as a society right now: learning to encompass the “other”, learning that they complement us. I believe in a society where we are greater than the sum of our parts, where one plus one equals three. That’s the whole point.

    One aspect of your role focuses on instructional technology—how do you evaluate a new type of technology for efficacy? What questions are foremost in your mind when you look at a new development in that area?

    One of my areas of study within sociology was diffusion of innovation, a field which examines how change is brought about through reorganization, the implementation of new technology, etc. To take a concrete example, let’s imagine I’m looking at activating a new module in Blackboard, a module that allows students to construct portfolios. When we consider a feature like this, our first question is a simple gauge of interest: “Do we need this?” Let’s say that nine of our programs currently want it; then it becomes a question of feasibility. We consider the cost of implementation, of training and support for faculty members so they can successfully use the product without frustration, of pilot trials so people can learn the program and develop a sense of ownership and mastery. It’s important in my role to provide an array of supports in order to build a community of practice among faculty members. This is exactly what we want our students to build; why would we expect any less of ourselves? So, we look at support for students, faculty support for the project, engagement with the project—you have to keep your eyes on all these issues and outcomes at once. It’s a macroscopic view. The sociological side of me says that technology is just a way of doing things. Being clear about what you need means that you know when your technology has achieved its purpose.

    Can you share some thoughts on the importance of interprofessional education, and its application in the professional world our graduates will face?

    One aspect is increasingly important: patients come to healthcare as whole people. Many providers will get to know a part of that patient, but none know them as whole people. We need to know them as whole people, and it takes a group of healthcare providers to do that.

    I see my job as strengthening academic programs, and doing that has several main facets, including supporting and strengthening faculty, strengthening curricula and courses, and identifying and meeting the needs of students. Since I came up as a member of the faculty, not administration, I’m looking forward to setting up those partnerships. Partnerships are how everything gets done in higher education!

    Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (MCPHS), which has campuses in Boston, Worcester, and Manchester, NH, offers more than 100 healthcare degree programs designed to empower the next generation of healthcare professionals.