Rural Pharmacy School Programs Offer Unique Opportunities

Pharmacy Times spoke with students from the Idaho State University College of Pharmacy and its partner program at the University of Alaska Anchorage College of Health.

Pharmacy Times spoke with students from the Idaho State University College of Pharmacy and its partner program at the University of Alaska Anchorage College of Health.

Delaney Fisher, 2024 PharmD candidate: My experience as a student in a more rural pharmacy program has really been nothing but positive. The smaller class size allows for more personal interactions with the faculty as well as a more tightknit feel within our cohort. Everyone is really supportive and uplifting, and we all just try and encourage one another. It's also afforded me many opportunities to work within the community and I feel like I'm making a difference. And I believe that's directly related to the setting the campus is based in. Additionally, being in a rural setting kind of allows for a quick escape when you need a little break. You can drive 5 minutes and be somewhere peaceful and beautiful, and it kind of allows you a moment to reset and remember the why behind the work.

Zachary Larson, 2023 PharmD candidate: Yeah, I think to summarize it in one word would be opportunity. There's a huge amount of opportunity to practice unlike a lot of different settings, and really practice, like at the top of your education within those settings. I'm originally from California, from the San Francisco Bay Area, which is not rural at all, and I have worked in the pharmacy over there as a pharmacy technician before attending pharmacy school. And the opportunities that you have in the community setting really vary in Idaho compared to California. And that's not to say there isn't great work to do in California, but there just is a lot of a lot more opportunity here to do things within the community setting.

Kristen Morse, 2024 PharmD candidate: So, being in a smaller program, it definitely has a lot of benefits to it. In the program, our maximum [number of students] I believe is 90. And right now we have 80 and our class kind of split between the 3 campuses we have—Alaska, Meridian, and Pocatello. So, it allows us to really connect with one another and help each other. Even though we’re going through COVID-19, we've all managed to find ways to connect with one another and help each other with personal things going on in our lives. And ISU, actually, since we're so small, is able to pay for each of us to have an APhA membership, which is amazing because it allows us to set up those events to help us learn how to educate the community, and also educate the community about things like heart health, diabetes, over the counter medicine, and just so many other things that are important for patients to know. And we are able to do vaccine clinics. So, flu clinics, COVID-19 clinics, we've done a lot of that. We work closely with Nevada and Alaska as well. So, they're we're able to see different type of rural areas and larger areas. And through all the different sites that we work at, we're able to see a variety of care settings. And the program that we're in helps us to learn how to learn in those settings and navigate those settings. So that way no matter where we go after graduation, we can help our patients in the best way possible.