Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

An Elective Course to Promote Academic Pharmacy as a Career

Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

An Elective Course to Promote Academic Pharmacy as a Career

Article excerpt


The American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP) has indicated a need for and shortage of pharmacy academicians. (1) There were 354 vacant or lost faculty positions in colleges and schools of pharmacy in 2002 and 374 in 2010 (Table 1). AACP trend data for this 8-year period highlights an increasing growth rate and interest in the pharmacy profession, with 5,329 more students graduating with PharmD degrees in 2010 than in 2002. (3) The increase in the number of pharmacy teaching institutions likely contributed not only to this trend but also to the shortages in academic pharmacy faculty members. Furthermore, it may be these factors that draw attention to the faculty shortage, especially as faculty members continue to be in demand as academic institutions expand. The faculty shortage may also be attributable to the inability of institutions to recruit graduating students to academia compared with that to other pharmacy career. Qualified health professionals were often enticed into industry positions with lucrative salaries and not enough were entering the professoriate. (4) Academic institutions usually cannot compete with industry benefits. (2,6-10)

Another potential reason for the academic pharmacy faculty shortage may be related to student misconceptions or lack of knowledge about the academic profession as a career. (11) The professorate is comprised of 3 distinctive roles: teaching, service, and scholarship. (12) Teaching is largely understood by students to be what they see in the classroom, whereas service and scholarship involve activities such as clinical faculty site responsibilities, advising, research initiatives, residency trainings, educational research, committee work, and conference attendance. Most students are unaware of their professors' responsibilities prior to and after lectures and beyond the classroom. (13) This lack of understanding, coupled with students' general lack of confidence or distain for public speaking, may negatively impact the likelihood that they would seriously consider academic pharmacy as a career. Continued faculty shortages will create a serious problem for the future of pharmacy with respect to the ability of programs to handle their student enrollments as well as faculty workload, and quality of life. This trend also has the potential to jeopardize the quality of education pharmacy colleges and schools can offer students.

To educate pharmacy students about the professoriate and interest them in an academic career, an elective course in teaching and learning was created at Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (ACPHS). The objective of the course was to engage students in the study of education and to promote academic pharmacy as a career. Teaching, service, and scholarship responsibilities were all covered within the course with an emphasis on pedagogy. Course objectives reflected the measurable outcomes expected from this focus. Students were given a healthy glimpse of service and scholarship responsibilities in academia; however, this course was designed as an introductory and possible prerequisite for future courses or electives that could emphasize specific pedagogical topics or expand on service and scholarship roles, such as educational research, the scholarship of teaching and learning, learning assessment, site/clinical responsibilities, or residency and fellowship training. Although preceded by significant efforts in the field to engage students toward an academic pharmacy career, this elective course is an innovative approach to formally educating pharmacy students about the professorate prior to graduation and residency program. (14)


Teaching and Learning in Higher Education is a 15week, 3-credit elective course. It was first offered in 2009 to ACPHS students in doctor of pharmacy curriculum years 1 through 3, which include students in their third, fourth, and fifth years at the college. …

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