Q&A: University of the Sciences, Philadelphia College of Pharmacy

Pharmacy Careers, Pharmacy Careers Spring 2020, Volume 14, Issue 1

The university is entering its' bicentennial year in 2021.

Location: University City, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Founded: 1821

Class Size: 120

Philadelphia College of Pharmacy (PCP), part of University of the Sciences, was founded in 1821 and was the first college of pharmacy in North America. The establishment of the college is widely recognized as the birth of the profession of pharmacy in the United States, according to Dean Edward F. Foote, PharmD, FCCP, BCPS.

“The university is entering an exciting bicentennial celebration in 2021,” Foote added.

In an interview with Pharmacy Careers®, Foote said, “PCP has trained leaders and innovators in pharmacy practice, research, and education. Our graduates discover and deliver innovations that advance patient care. McNeil, Lilly, Wyeth—founders of the top pharmaceutical companies in the world—and many others have launched their careers here. We continue that tradition of excellence with our hands-on approach, offering future pharmacists clinical experience, practically from their first day.”

According to Foote, PCP also offers undergraduate degree programs in pharmacology and toxicology, pharmaceutical sciences, and pharmaceutical and health care business. Graduate programs include master of science and doctoral programs in pharmaceutics and pharmacology/toxicology and a master of business administration in pharmaceutical and health care business. The college also offers postgraduate residencies and pharmaceutical industry fellowships.

“Graduates play important roles in pharmacies, managed care organizations, hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, and regulatory agencies, among others,” said Foote.

Q: What is unique about your school or program?

Foote: The doctor of pharmacy curriculum is a student-centered, state-of-the-art curriculum that is delivered in unparalled facilities. The college has one of the few direct-entry programs in the country, where students can enter it from high school and earn their doctor of pharmacy degree in 6 years. Our new, lowerand fixed-tuition structure brings clarity and predictability to the financial commitment of attending pharmacy school.

The undergraduate coursework in the preprofessional phase, which is typically completed in 2 years, provides a broad foundation of math and science, as well as social sciences, written and oral communication, and the humanities. Launched in [the] fall [of] 2018, the professional phase of the program is an innovative and fully integrated 4-year, competency-driven curriculum—one of few in the country.

The first 3 years of the professional program progressively build on foundational knowledge and skills. Starting in the first professional year, students are exposed to real-life practice environments in our novel introductory pharmacy practice experience (IPPE) program, with an emphasis on interprofessional, team-based care.

The final year of the professional program is the required 36-week Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experience (APPE) program, in which students learn in a variety of pharmacy practice settings, including community, acute care, health systems, and ambulatory care. PCP has a wide variety of elective APPE experiences in areas such as managed care, pharmaceutical industry, global health, and pediatrics. Because of PCP’s long legacy and extensive alumni network, we are able to offer rotations in areas that are not available at other pharmacy programs.

Although our program is rigorous, we are committed to student success. Our curriculum includes personalized, real-time learning support to ensure that students have the resources to master the content and develop lifelong learning habits. Our cocurricular program centers on a close mentoring relationship between faculty and students, while fostering involvement in professional organizations and [developing] a professional network to expand employment opportunities. Each student’s progress, both academically and professionally, is mapped in our state-of-the-art assessment system, [which] allows a graduate to demonstrate mastery of the skills requested by employers immediately upon graduation.

Because of the breadth and depth of our programs and faculty, PCP is able to offer our students a number of graduate certificate programs, certifications, minors, and other opportunities, which will prepare them for a wide range of opportunities when they graduate.

Q: What is the teaching style or philosophy?

Foote: The professional phase of the program focuses on team-based and cooperative learning. Faculty from the pharmaceutical sciences and pharmacy practice collaborate to deliver the curriculum, often working side-by-side in the classroom. Our classrooms are not the typical lecture hall; rather [they are] dynamic environments where students build skills and problem-solving abilities. Students are placed in learning teams that stay together for the entirety of an academic year, allowing our students to forge relationships and cultivate the individual qualities that make them valuable team members. Students in their IPPE experiences can apply the concepts and skills learned in the classroom, and practiced in the laboratory, to a real-life setting.

A multimodal, real-time assessment process was implemented to coincide with the transition to our competency driven curriculum. Student assessment includes extrinsic summative assessment and reassessment (ESAR) periods, where the curriculum pauses for programmatic evaluation of students’ mastery of knowledge and skills expected at specific points within the curriculum. The availability of actionable data from courses and ESARs resulted in an enhanced learning support system that is holistic and individualized, focusing on promoting student growth and on-time progression.

Q: What are some community outreach activities or programs the school participates in?

Foote: University of the Sciences has more than 60 student clubs and organizations that engage in a wide variety of service activities. In addition to volunteering throughout the curriculum, each pharmacy student in their fourth professional year is required to participate in a service-learning experience during their APPE year.

Our commitment to community outreach has been recognized nationally. In 2017, PCP was the recipient of the Rookie Award from the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy’s Script Your Future national medication adherence challenge, which recognizes our students’ engagement with the local community. In 2018, the college was 1 of 2 national award winners.

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

Foote: PCP student-pharmacists are highly sought after for various internships and other work experiences. Because of the long history and large alumni base, our students have outstanding opportunities. We are proud that many of our partners specifically request a PCP student!

Q: What advice do you have for students who will graduate in 2020?

Foote: The profession of pharmacy is undergoing rapid change, and students need to be prepared. More than ever, you need to be proactive and take advantage of all the opportunities offered to you at your school or college of pharmacy. Don’t settle. Think big, and be imaginative about what your pharmacy degree can bring. Once you have envisioned your future, work toward it. But whatever you do, put your patients first.