Head of the class: Top pharmacy schools
Whether they work for community drug stores, supermarkets or big-box stores, managers have one thing in common: Hiring the right pharmacist is one of the biggest decisions they will ever have to make.
According to Salary.com, the median salary for a pharmacist as of March 1 is $126,880, and that’s a major investment for any retailer. A doctor of pharmacy degree, or PharmD, is considered by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education to be the entry-level requirement for today’s pharmacists, and the accompanying course work typically takes students six years to complete.
To help hiring managers find the right pharmacists for their specific retail environments, Drug Store News has compiled a list of 25 of the top pharmacy colleges in the United States, all accredited by the ACPE, with some information about each:
University of Arizona College of Pharmacy
Students can prepare for careers in retail pharmacy at the college’s Tucson and Phoenix campuses, and rotations, which place students in various real-world settings, are offered across the state. Rural settings are emphasized to encourage students to pursue careers in areas where professional pharmacists are needed most.
The college, ranked among the top 20 nationally by U.S. News and World Report, also has a rural medication therapy management program that pairs its Medication Management Center with rural pharmacies, including two independent pharmacies, to provide comprehensive medication reviews to rural patients.
The University of Arizona’s new Health Sciences Innovation Building provides state-of-the-art instructional space and simulated real-life scenarios for teams of students, faculty and health professionals in several disciplines.
“The college values and promotes all areas of pharmacy, trying to ensure that all patients get help with their drug therapy no matter the setting or location. Clinical pharmacists are critical to this key role,” dean Rick Schnellmann said.
Auburn University Harrison School of Pharmacy
With locations on the main Auburn campus and in Mobile, Ala., thanks to a working relationship with the University of South Alabama, the HSOP recently rolled out its new Practice-Ready Curriculum, which reimagines how pharmacists are trained
The curriculum is designed around key competencies that every graduating pharmacist must master, and the teaching methods covering these competencies are integrated across all aspects of practice with authentic learning environments and assessments. The flexibility of the curriculum allows students greater opportunities for electives, and lets them focus on areas pertinent to their specific career paths, HSOP officials said.
“We believe the Auburn practice-ready graduate will be the best prepared pharmacist ever trained,” the school’s dean, Richard Hansen, said. “At the Harrison School of Pharmacy, along with an innovative curriculum, we have an outstanding faculty that is not just [made up of] leaders in the classroom, but also in practice, as most of our faculty continue to practice in locations around the state.”
University of California at San Francisco School of Pharmacy
The school will launch a new PharmD curriculum this summer in which course work will be offered year-round over three years, instead of the traditional four years with summer breaks. While both curricula call for students to approach learning with a scientific mind-set, the new learning plan goes a step farther.
“We prepare our PharmD student to think critically, to identify and solve problems, and to practice at the top of their licenses,” Sharon Youmans, the school’s vice dean, said. “These are all critical to contemporary community pharmacy practice and, in fact, the entire first year of our students’ introductory practice experiences are in community settings.”
A few highlights of the school’s new curriculum include:
• Patient-centered curriculum taught through the lens of organ systems and disease categories;
• Early involvement in real-world practice with diverse patient populations;
• Integrated, cumulative and continually enforced learning;
• Continuous synthesis of knowledge and regular review of learning;
• Active, team-based learning; and
• Pass/no-pass grading.
Creighton University School of Pharmacy and Health Professions
Committed to the Jesuit tradition of cura personalis, the care and development of the whole person, Creighton’s pharmacy school was established in 1905. Over time, the schools of pharmacy, occupational therapy and physical therapy came together to form the Creighton University School of Pharmacy and Health Professions in 2002.
Craig Kessler, the school’s chief pharmacist and an assistant professor of pharmacy practice, pointed out that the school owns and operates the campus pharmacy inside a Catholic Health Initiatives clinic at the Creighton University Medical Center, which allows students to work directly with patients and a collaborative care team that encompasses 19 healthcare professions.
Kessler also noted that the campus pharmacy offers introductory and advanced pharmacy practice experiences for students in their first, second and fourth years, which he said can show students how interdisciplinary teamwork can better impact a patient’s health.
Duquesne University School of Pharmacy
Ranked among the top Catholic universities for pharmacy in the United States, the school was founded in 1925. In 2015, it earned a Pinnacle Award from the American Pharmacists Association Foundation, which APhA’s website says honors“significant contributions to the medication use process.”
The school prepares students to excel in retail pharmacy careers through hands-on drug store experiences, and through classroom interaction with award-winning clinical faculty members.
“Our curriculum offers concentrations that students may choose for retail pharmacy careers,” J. Douglas Bricker, the school’s dean, said. “The community pharmacy practice concentration and the entrepreneurism concentration provide unique learning experiences and prepare our students to be the best in the field.”
The Giant Eagle Center for Pharmacy Practice, a simulated retail pharmacy lab, allows students to develop skills in dispensing and consultation. Additionally, student pharmacists spend time in the Duquesne University Pharmacy, a faculty-designed, university-owned retail pharmacy, which exposes students to a variety of patient types, especially those from underserved and minority populations.
University of Florida College of Ph