University of Arizona College of Pharmacy

For decades, students at the University of Arizona College of Pharmacy have attended classes on the main campus in Tucson, but 2016 will be an exciting time for the school's growth.

Tucson, Arizona

Class size: 120

Founded: 1947

For decades, students at the University of Arizona (UA) College of Pharmacy have attended classes on the main campus in Tucson, but 2016 will be an exciting time for the school’s growth.

Starting this fall, pharmacy students will be eligible to study on a biomedical campus in Phoenix, alongside students in medicine, nursing, public health, physician assistant, physical therapy, and occupational therapy programs.

“This mix results in a very rich interprofessional learning environment,” Brian L. Erstad, PharmD, professor and head of the college’s Pharmacy Practice and Science Department, told Pharmacy Times.

Besides its focus on interprofessionalism, the UA College of Pharmacy encourages international partnerships. The college has hosted international students and visiting scholars, endorsed international rotations and educational visits for PharmD students abroad, and developed relationships with health care professionals in Saudi Arabia and Thailand.

Students at the school will be encouraged to pursue life-long learning, as well. They may obtain MS and PhD degrees, and the postgraduate year 1 and 2 residencies and training programs will prepare students for their careers, the college maintained.

“Our success in inspiring student pharmacists to continue their professional growth is reflected in the number of our PharmD graduates who apply for postgraduate programs either here at the University of Arizona or in other institutions,” Dr. Erstad said.

Almost 40% of the PharmD Class of 2015 headed off to a postgraduate program.

(Photos courtesy of University of Arizona BioCommunications)

A: The College of Pharmacy at UA combines a long history of educational excellence with an equally strong commitment to professional discovery and exploration. The college was established in 1947 as the first health sciences college at Arizona’s first university. Since 1993, it has annually been included in the top 10 of pharmacy schools nationwide, as determined by US News and World Report surveys.

Firmly ingrained in this tradition of excellence is a visionary approach to professional preparation that anticipates changes in health care and the evolving roles pharmacists take on to make Americans’ lives better. Our goal is always to prepare pharmacists who will not only succeed today, but also shape and thrive in tomorrow’s landscape.

Our faculty are leaders within the profession of pharmacy and within their scientific disciplines. For nearly 30 years, faculty from the UA College of Pharmacy have served in presidential and other high positions within national professional organizations. These leaders and discoverers are not only extraordinary role models for our PharmD students, but also personal mentors and advisers, making the college truly a student-centered

institution of learning.

Q: What is the teaching style or philosophy?

A: Faculty at the college of pharmacy believe practical application is the best way to make the connection between theory and practice evident. Therefore, we incorporate active learning into many classroom activities and assign “real-world” projects for which the students must use concepts learned in class.

We also collectively value hands-on research as a way to provide students with greater knowledge of the foundation and fundamentals of pharmacotherapy. Our PharmD students all complete mentored research projects, and we believe this helps them learn to explore the unknown, navigate in the real world, and deal with ambiguity.

Q: What are some community outreach activities or programs the school participates in? What volunteer opportunities are available to students?

A: Students at the UA College of Pharmacy are extremely focused on community engagement not only locally, but also nationally and abroad. During the 2014-2015 academic year, our students and faculty took part in more than 225 separate outreach or educational events, serving thousands of people throughout the state and beyond. We boast 15 organizations and honorary societies for students at our college.

Each organization provides leadership opportunities for students, and nearly every group participates in outreach or charitable projects. Our student organizations work with the local community to provide health screenings as well as educational sessions. Over the last 5 years, 450 students have participated in community health fairs where they’ve screened or educated 5000 people. Additionally, since 2011, more than 25 students have provided care to underserved communities in places like Honduras, Ghana, and Panama as part of the Global Medical Brigade.

Our faculty and professional staff members also engage in community outreach while educating our students. The Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center at our college has an active community outreach schedule, assists US military on treatment of venom injuries, and manages the online Antivenom Index, a partnership of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and the American Association of Poison Control Centers.

Our Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center and the Superfund Research Program also boast very strong community outreach units, providing multiple programs focused on youth training, tribal outreach, environmental issues, health literacy, and other topics.

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

A: Our students have numerous opportunities to experience pharmacy practice through internships and rotations from their very first year of pharmacy school. Within the curriculum, our students start with an Introductory Pharmacy Practice Experience (IPPE) that we call SOAR (Student and Older Adult Relationships). This IPPE integrated class has students practicing their communication skills and being introduced to aging in a structured environment with independent living, assisted living, and skilled nursing facility residents over the course of the semester.

Next, students participate in both community and institutional IPPE rotations. Finally, they spend their last year in Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experiences (APPEs). In addition to the required APPE rotations (community, ambulatory care, institutional, and adult acute), students are able to explore numerous elective rotations, including managed care, geriatrics, pediatrics, psychiatry, trauma, nutritional support, cardiology, oncology, pharmacy administration, research, and international pharmacy.

Only 6.6% of all Arizona pharmacists practice in a rural community, yet approximately 15% of Arizona’s population lives in rural communities. Our college addresses workforce distribution issues through its Rural Health Professions Program, which has dramatically increased student exposure and decisions to practice in rural and underserved communities and offers many learning experiences to students.

A: I urge our graduates to seek positions that are both challenging and encourage innovation, Dean J. Lyle Bootman, PhD, ScD, told Pharmacy Times. Our health care system is not always effective or efficient, and there are multiple ways our delivery of pharmacotherapy and our nation’s use of drugs can improve.

This creates many exciting opportunities that are ripe for the entrepreneur. Every pharmacy school graduate should take advantage of this unique time period in health care.