North Texas Daily

New College of Pharmacy aims for future of healthcare

New College of Pharmacy aims for future of healthcare

New College of Pharmacy aims for future of healthcare
August 29
07:57 2013

Jason Yang / Staff Writer

First-year medical student Vinodha Sadasivam planned to choose the pharmacy school at the University of Texas at Austin until her interview with the University of North Texas System College of Pharmacy.

“It’s on a health science center,” Sadasivam said. “You have access to different medical schools and interact with different professionals. It’s close to home. It’s a new school with new opportunities. When everything put together, UNT was the clear choice.”

UNT System College of Pharmacy opened its doors on Aug. 19. The four-year pharmacy program’s inaugural class has more than 340 applicants applying, 82 students enrolling, 16 full-time faculties and nine staffs teaching. It joins a Health Science Center that offers a graduate degree in osteopathic medicine, biomedical science, public health, physician assistant and physical therapy.

Not only is it the first college of pharmacy in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, but also the first to be located in a health science center.

“The way to make healthcare better is through teamwork of different healthcare professionals,” said Myron K. Jacobson, dean of the UNTHSC College of Pharmacy. “[Our students] can learn alongside different medical students, so it’s an advantage that provides unique opportunities and better prepares our students as team members.”

Thiscollaboration, interprofessional education (IPE), has been on the rise in the past couple of years, said Thomas Yorio, UNTHSC provost and executive vice president of academic affairs. It has become so vital that a year and a half ago, Texas Christian University associate professor of professional science Diane Hawley said its medical accreditation board pushed for IPE. Now the TCU nursing program partners with the UNTHSC. Hawley said her nursing students have learned how to work with medical students, which they didn’t before.

“With their resources such as specialized librarians, simulation labs and different medical professionals, I can see our collaboration last forever,” Hawley said. “[IPE] is going to grow to be the norm than the exception.”

The Struggles

The quest for a pharmacy school at UNTHSC started in 1997, Yorio said, but because of market research and a shift in school priorities, the application wasn’t filed until 2003. The legislative session conflicted on the location and denied the application. It happened again in 2007.

Yorio said UNTHSC began to encompass UNT Denton and Dallas into its proposal in 2011. It would initially be located at UNTHSC and then slowly develop classes in Denton and Dallas. In June 2011, the 82nd Texas Legislature authorized the College of Pharmacy on House Bill 4, Section 35. The UNT Board of Regents approved the plan in August 2011.

After that, Jacobson, Associate Dean of the College of Pharmacy Tina Machu and 10 to 12 faculties worked on the accreditation documents, hiring faculties and staff and interviewing students for the next two years.

Machu said the program’s first three years include classroom studies, labs and early clinical experience. The fourth year involves intensive clinical education where students work at a hospital or commercial pharmaceutical store. Jacobson said the students have already been exposed to IPE on the third day of class. First-year medical student Namil Mehdi, initially shocked at the progression, loves the collaboration.

“The workshop receives feedback from different medical students and the collaboration between us,” Mehdi said, “It’s valuable information.”

Future Plans

In addition to IPE, Jacobson said UNTHSC is currently working on an early entry program where pre-pharmacy students can have a fast track into the program if they do well on their prerequisites. Denton and Dallas will assist with regional clinical rotation. However, no expansion can happen until full-accreditation status, which is obtained when the first class graduates, Yorio said.

Jacobson said the program also plans to work with UNTHSC human genetic department to create personalized medication.

“We want to achieve excellence in three areas – education, new therapies, and provide clinical services to better the teamwork and healthcare,” he said.

Yorio said the addition of college of pharmacy turns UNTHSC into a more comprehensive health science center.

“We diversify our programs, but they work very well together in terms of the ultimate goal – provide best healthcare we can to the people,” Yorio said. “This is a long time coming. I’m glad it’s here and hopefully we’ll produce first-rate pharmacists in the future.”

The College of Pharmacy is accepting applications for its second class. The application deadline is at the end of the year.

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