Pharmacy program now available in eastern Ohio

Celina Hutchens

The Ohio Board of Regents approved in November the establishment of Northeastern Ohio University College of Pharmacy, a doctor of pharmacy program at the Northeastern Ohio University College of Medicine. Students who wish to enroll may do so this summer, and the first class of students will start in August 2007.

This will be the first doctor of pharmacy program located in the eastern half of the state, and students from Akron, Kent State, Youngstown State and Cleveland State all have been invited to take part in the six-year program.

David Allen is the founding dean for the College of Pharmacy, a professor of pharmaceutical sciences in the college, and physiology and pharmacology in the College of Medicine. He said he is very excited about starting the NEOUCOP program.

“NEOUCOP has the opportunity to set the national standard in terms of pharmacy education,” Allen said. “Partnering with our colleagues in medicine at NEOUCOM, we will approach training pharmacy and medical students in an interdisciplinary fashion that has been championed by the Institute of Medicine.”

The vision of creating a doctor of pharmacy degree, or Pharm. D., was that of President Lois Margaret Nora, Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Mark Penn and the administrative team at NEOUCOM.

The program was created to address the growing need for pharmacists in the area. As the population ages, it is the pharmacists role to help expand patient care.

“A recently commissioned study suggests the shortage of pharmacists nationally will be almost 160,000 in the year 2020. The need for pharmacists in Ohio and to a greater degree, Northeast Ohio has been identified,” Allen said. “Our new College of Pharmacy will have an impact on the pharmacist shortage in our area as well as having a positive impact on patient care in general.”

The NEOUCOP program emphasizes interdisciplinary teamwork, with medical and pharmacy students taking combined classes to improve relations between the doctor and pharmacist. This helps students interact with other health care professionals to create a better atmosphere for relations with the patients.

“Overall, patient care will be improved, reduction in medical errors will occur and health care in general will be better. Health care practitioners working as better team members will be of great benefit to our patients,” Allen said.

It is not required to have a bachelor’s degree completed before entering the College of Pharmacy, because the college uses what is called a two-plus-four program. This is a completion of a pre-professional pharmacy-training program at one of the four universities, which will then transfer credits to complete the four-year doctor of pharmacy training program at NEOUCOM. Allen expects the first graduating class in May 2011.

Jerry Feezel, interim dean at the College of Arts and Sciences, which oversees the pre-pharmacy program at Kent State, said there are currently 30 students enrolled in the pre-pharmacy program and says the NEOUCOP program is a work in progress.

“There have already been 300 inquiries about the (NEOUCOP) program. Unfortunately, it will only take 75 students in the first year,” Feezel said.

Feezel said there is a possibility this enrollment number will increase with each year the program operates. He also said Kent State is making some curricular changes to improve and strengthen the pre-pharmacy program.

“The pre-pharmacy program at Kent is being redesigned to articulate with the four-year doctorate program so the student can successfully complete the program at NEOUCOP,” he said.

More than 20 percent of pharmacy students expected to apply are going to come from Kent State, Allen said. Akron, Kent State and Youngstown State have the opportunity to offer a direct entry to students who have already earned their bachelor’s degrees at other universities. Kent State was allotted 15 slots for direct entry into the NEOUCOP program.

There are currently four other pharmacy schools located in Ohio, three of which are located in the western half of the state and the other is located in Columbus.

Matt Angel, a freshman biology major who is working on a minor in pre-pharmacy at Kent State, said he is interested in applying for the NEOUCOP program for numerous reasons.

“I’m glad it is opening because all the other pharmacy schools in Ohio are at least two hours away. With NEOUCOM being less than 10 minutes from my house, I am very excited about the opportunity of being able to get my pharmacy degree there,” Angel said.

He said the pharmacy school is a great idea because it makes it easier and cheaper for students in this area to get their pharmacy degree.

NEOUCOP is in the process of hiring the administrative team for the College of Pharmacy and expects both administrators and faculty to be set by the end of the summer. Any student interested in applying can visit the NEOUCOM Web site at and fill out an online form to receive more information about the program.

“I believe the pharmacy school will be successful since it is coming from a prestigious background (NEOUCOM),” Angel said. “I think that in a few years, it will be one of the best in Ohio.”

Contact medicine reporter Celina Hutchens at [email protected].