University of Houston College of Pharmacy

While the University of Houston College of Pharmacy has historic roots, Dean F. Lamar Pritchard, PhD, RPh, is excited about a modern campus upgrade.

Houston, Texas

Founded: 1946

Class size: 125 per class

While the University of Houston (UH) College of Pharmacy has historic roots, Dean F. Lamar Pritchard, PhD, RPh, is excited about a modern campus upgrade.

The UH College of Pharmacy will be moving into a new, state-of-art academic and research home in fall 2017, Dr. Pritchard told Pharmacy Times. This 138,000-square-foot facility will house classrooms, labs, learning spaces, and workstations for groups and individual study. It will also feature patient care and compounding labs, sterile products lab, simulation/Objective Structured Clinical Examinations (OSCE) suites, OTC simulation/patient counseling suites, as well as bench labs and core research lab facilities for high-throughput screening and advanced imaging/spectrometry.

“This new facility will be a great incubator for expanding our outstanding academic, research, and service programs and keep us at the forefront of patient-centered practice models,” Dr. Pritchard said.

Q: What is unique about your school/program?

A: There are several areas where the UH College of Pharmacy stands out. As a proud member of the world-renowned Texas Medical Center since 1980, our students and faculty have established highly effective, productive, and cutting-edge collaborations with some of the world’s smartest and most talented clinical practitioners, researchers, health-system leaders, and fellow educators.

The Greater Houston region also is incredibly diverse demographically, and this is reflected on our campus and provides students with invaluable exposure to fellow students, patients, faculty, and preceptors from all backgrounds.

In the area of interprofessional education, the UH College of Pharmacy has been actively involved in providing collaborative care and service learning for at least 15 years as a founding member of an interprofessional student-run clinic providing primary care to Houston’s homeless population. In partnership with Houston-based Baylor College of Medicine and The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, the H.O.M.E.S. Clinic has been recognized as a model program by the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy.

In recent years, we’ve expanded our interprofessional education collaborations in several avenues, including a program called No Place Like Home in which student teams of Baylor medical students and UH pharmacy students make house calls to predominantly homebound senior citizens with complex comorbidities.

It’s also very rewarding to continually hear our students say—from their first interview to commencement as they reflect on their journey—how much the college and everyone in it feels like family.

Q: What is the teaching style or philosophy?

A: At the UH College of Pharmacy, our mission is to instill in our practice-ready students a commitment to lifelong learning. At its most fundamental level, we stress lifelong learning out of an essential need to be aware of and knowledgeable about the latest therapeutics coming in to the marketplace, the latest practice standards, and latest published clinical research to provide the safest, most effective patient care.

On a deeper level, we strive to cultivate a true thirst for looking at patient care and their profession in new ways or applying successful strategies and techniques from other professions and disciplines to pharmacy practice, whether it be motivational interviewing techniques to improve adherence, using patient genetic profiles to optimize therapeutic outcomes, or learning a new language to better communicate with your patients.

The college also has fully implemented nationally recognized curricular assessment and progression performance measures, including the Pharmacy Curriculum Outcomes Assessment and OSCE, to ensure we are producing the highest quality education.

A testament to this quality perspective is demonstrated via our students attaining a 100% first-time pass rate on the North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination for 3 consecutive years.

A: One of the strengths of our college is the enthusiasm and energy of our students in the area of community outreach and wellness with such services as blood pressure, blood glucose, cholesterol, brown bag medication reviews, and diabetic foot exams.

In the past academic year, our students provided more than 7000 wellness screenings and more than 700 seasonal flu immunizations at nearly 100 events at community health fairs across the Greater Houston area. At 1 event in January, our students provided almost 1300 screenings in a single day.

Our students also are ready and willing to mobilize in response to public health threats, as when our students assisted in the delivery of more than 12,000 immunizations to residents of all ages during the H1N1 flu epidemic of 2009.

Our students also are active in numerous organizations at the state, regional, and national level. In this year alone, they have brought home national chapter of the year awards in both the Phi Lambda Sigma Pharmacy Leadership Society and the Student National Pharmaceutical Association, as well as won the statewide championships in the Disease State Management Competition, 2 divisions of the Clinical Skills Competition, and the Self-Care (OTC) Competition.

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

A: As early as their first summer, our students have co-op and paid internship opportunities with chain community pharmacies and some of our fellow Texas Medical Center institutions. Our required Introductory Pharmacy Practice Experiences (IPPE) begin in the fall of their second year and are completed at the end of their third year. The Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experiences (APPE) begin in the summer after the third year.

Our students have the opportunity to complete all of their IPPE and APPE within the Greater Houston area if they prefer. However, our vast network of preceptor and site affiliations also gives students flexibility in doing rotations elsewhere in Texas or even out of state.

In recent years, our students also have done rotations with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Cancer Institute, American Pharmacists Association, National Community Pharmacists Association, and typically a couple of rotations each year with the US Public Health Service/Indian Health Service.

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

A: I’d encourage graduates to be open to exploring new and nontraditional career paths. Here in Texas, there is still a great need for pharmacists outside of the large metropolitan areas, such as the Rio Grande Valley region of South Texas, which is experiencing tremendous economic and population growth. This provides opportunities in the large chain-based community pharmacies, independent pharmacies, compounding pharmacies, health-system pharmacy, community clinics, and a range of niche markets.

As the Affordable Care Act progresses and expands health care coverage, and as provider status for pharmacists gains greater acceptance, I believe pharmacists will continue to be among the most trained, skilled health care professionals whose experience in communication, teamwork, and problem-solving make them assets in and out of the direct patient care environment.