Q&A: West Virginia University School of Pharmacy

Pharmacy CareersPharmacy Careers May 2015

Preparing for the changing tide of health care, West Virginia University School of Pharmacy students are encouraged to be advocates for the pharmacy profession and the patients they serve.

Morgantown, West Virginia

Founded: 1914

Class Size: 90

Preparing for the changing tide of health care, West Virginia University (WVU) School of Pharmacy students are encouraged to be advocates for the pharmacy profession and the patients they serve.

The pharmacy school offers learning experiences both inside and outside the classroom with a focus on nurturing leaders for pharmacy’s future, Associate Dean for Student Services Mary L. Euler, PharmD, FAPhA, told Pharmacy Times. Dr. Euler noted that the school has 3 departments: clinical pharmacy, pharmaceutical sciences, and pharmaceutical systems and policy.

Students can pursue the 4-year doctor of pharmacy degree or they can obtain a dual PharmD/MBA degree. WVU also offers a doctor of philosophy graduate program in pharmaceutical and pharmacological sciences. This PhD program offers 2 pathways. The pharmaceutical and pharmacological sciences’ pathway emphasizes basic laboratory research, while the health outcomes research pathway focuses on population and policy research.

Q: What is the teaching style or philosophy?

A: The school is moving toward an interdisciplinary approach to teaching. It is important that all our health sciences students understand and learn that it takes a team to provide optimal health care that results in better health outcomes for our patients.

We are doing this by teaching our health sciences students how to work together for this common goal. For example, our student pharmacists take interprofessional education sessions with medical and nursing students in simulation labs where they, under the supervision of faculty members, learn to diagnose and treat mannequins that serve as their patients.

For the past several years, the school has been using team-based learning in several of our courses. Although this teaching method is still relatively new in our curriculum, I feel that our student pharmacists are realizing how important it is to work together.

A: In the second year of the curriculum, our students are partnered with community organizations through WVU’s Center for Service and Learning as part of their Introductory Pharmacy Practice Experiences course. The students work with the community organizations to create a health-related project to fit the needs of the organization and to fulfill objectives of the Healthy People 2020 initiative.

Our students also have opportunities to volunteer through our student organizations. The school is home to 12 different organizations, and through these organizations, our students can participate in health fairs, provide presentations, and seek other ways to help the community, such as participating in food and clothing drives.

Q:What is unique about your school/program?

A: The WVU School of Pharmacy is 1 of only a few programs nationwide that is part of an academic medical center which integrates the training of pharmacy, medical, dental, nursing, and public health students. The school offers a dual PharmD/MBA degree as well as several areas of emphasis, including clinical, research, teaching, and global health. Students may also participate in a geriatrics/gerontology certificate program.

Q: What opportunities do students have for internships or co-ops?

A: Students enjoy a wealth of training opportunities through our partnerships with area hospitals, clinics, community pharmacies, and the pharmaceutical industry. With a focus in rural and global health, WVU student pharmacists are provided with opportunities to experience practice from the hills of West Virginia to the rainforests of South America.

Q: What advice do you have for students who will graduate this year?

A: Keep an open mind about your future. The profession of pharmacy offers a wealth of rewarding opportunities if you think creatively and don’t limit yourselves.

For example, our alumni practice in community and hospital settings, are leaders in national pharmacy organizations, have created and managed global pharmaceutical companies, and have become faculty members at schools of pharmacy. The changes in the US health care model will also create practice opportunities far beyond contemporary practice today.

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