NEOUCOM adding pharmacy school

Priscilla D. Tasker

North Eastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine is opening a new college of pharmacy this fall.

The Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education granted North Eastern Ohio Universities College of Pharmacy pre-candidate accreditation status for its Doctor of Pharmacy program, which will allow the developmental program to admit its first 75 students for the fall semester, 15 of whom will be chosen from Kent State.

The school is expected to progress in accordance to a stated plan within a specified period of time before reaching candidate status and graduate its first class before attaining full accreditation, according to a NEOUCOP press release.

The new institution is the only professional pharmacy school in the eastern half of the state.

“We’ve always needed one in this part of Ohio,” said Jim Hostler, chief pharmacist at DeWeese Health Center.

Prescription: Communication

The institution’s goal is to appease the need for more pharmacists in Ohio and set a national standard for pharmaceutical education by training students in a setting that mirrors the professional workforce, said David D. Allen, dean of pharmacy.

“I think the vision relates to creating a program based on excellence and having a significant impact on patient care in Northeast Ohio,” Allen said. “That’s very important to us in terms of the faculty we’ll bring in that will be participating in patient care at various hospitals and community pharmacy settings.”

Communication between doctors and pharmacists is often minimal. The process in which one calls in the prescription, the other fills it and then hands it off to the patient, is simply protocol.

“Sometimes I feel like the patient is just stuck in the middle,” said Michael Kelley, doctor of osteopathic medicine. “I think the patient would benefit through better communication between doctors and pharmacists.”

Exposure to each other’s respective fields, such as on-site visits to offices and labs or just a sit-down dialogue between professionals, could assist health providers to better understand one another, Kelley said.

Interdisciplinary education

The idea of a well-rounded curriculum is to provide common ground for the future health care professionals and teach them effective communication to enhance patient care, Allen said.

NEOUCOM plans to integrate the College of Pharmacy students into its annual White Coat Ceremony scheduled for late August.

Through the combined white coat event, Allen expects to convey to students that their education is not about them as individuals anymore, but about the patient.

A patient depends on doctors and pharmacists for his or her health and well-being, Kelley said.

Many patients ask their doctors about various medications and herbal remedies, but doctors may not be aware of all the options.

“There are so many new drugs, it’s hard for doctors to keep up,” Hostler said.

The colleges of medicine and pharmacy requires students to participate in a Pharmacotherapeutics and Practice of Pharmacy sequence in which they interact with individuals who are trained to portray an illness or medical condition to students.

Specialty and opportunity

NEOUCOP’s curriculum includes extensive laboratory work to complement patient care training. Doctor of Pharmacy students will learn compounding, which is making drugs from scratch.

The college requires students to participate in eight rotations before they are eligible to graduate. In this stage of education, students will gain real-life experience at various pharmacies, hospitals, and laboratories.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported employment of pharmacists is expected to grow through 2014 because of the increasing demand for pharmaceuticals from a growing elderly population.

“The job outlook is phenomenal, I mean the shortage of pharmacists is one of the reasons why we’re here,” Allen said. “So if students come in our program and graduate, they’re going to be able to pick and choose job offers.”

Contact NEOUCOM and health trends reporter Priscilla Tasker at [email protected].