Pharmacy School to Open at University of Texas at El Paso

The University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) has been allotted $7 million for its very own 4-year pharmacy school.

The University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) has been allotted $7 million for its very own 4-year pharmacy school.

UTEP has been a part of a cooperative pharmacy program with the University of Texas at Austin since 1999, but it had been yearning for its own program for a while, The El Paso Times reported.

“This is something we've been thinking about for a long time,” UTEP President Diana Natalicio told the paper. “Now, it looks like we’re well on our way.”

This winter, UTEP will begin seeking national accreditation, and in 2017, the school is expected to welcome its first class of around 40 students.

This will triple the number of students in the pharmacy cooperative with the Austin-based university, according to The El Paso Times.

The $7 million that UTEP has been allotted will help pay for staff, faculty, remodeling, and lab equipment. The program will have around 16 full-time faculty members.

José O. Rivera will serve as the UTEP School of Pharmacy founding dean. He recently told The El Paso Times that the current pharmacy program does not meet the needs of the community, and he expected the area could see improvements in pharmacy wait times and access because of the change.

“The access to pharmacists now is limited, and it’s not that easy to talk to a pharmacist because they’re so busy,” he told The El Paso Times. “That can lead to errors too because they’re overworked.”

Rivera said the school could also help address the community’s specific needs by including Spanish and cultural aspects into the program.

Demand for pharmacists is highest in southern states, according to the Pharmacy Workforce Center’s latest Aggregate Demand Index figures from May 2015.

On a scale from 1 to 5, the Southern states were ranked at a demand level of 3.73. More specifically, the “West South Central” states of Arizona, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas, were the Southern subsection with the highest demand at 3.97, which is good news for pharmacy students in Texas.