Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

Establishing and Maintaining a Satellite Campus Connected by Synchronous Video Conferencing

Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

Establishing and Maintaining a Satellite Campus Connected by Synchronous Video Conferencing

Article excerpt


Pharmacy education has undergone rapid expansion of programs and extension of existing programs through satellite campuses using a variety of curricular methods and technology systems. (1) Auburn University Harrison School of Pharmacy (AUHSOP) has maintained clinical education centers with resident clinical faculty members across the state for over 20 years as part of its doctor of pharmacy (PharmD) curriculum. Beginning in 1995, Auburn established a clinical education center in Mobile in collaboration with the University of South Alabama School of Medicine. Clinical clerkships were conducted by 3 full-time equivalent (FTE) faculty members for approximately 20 advanced practice students in the region in 2005. In 2006, the University of South Alabama and Auburn University signed a memorandum of understanding to collaborate in opening a satellite campus at University of South Alabama's campus in Mobile.

Several important factors were identified in the process of determining the need for a satellite campus. At the time, there were 2 pharmacy schools in Alabama: AUHSOP and Samford's McWhorter School of Pharmacy in Birmingham. Workforce shortages within the state were geographically variable. However, definite shortages existed in rural areas and along the Gulf Coast to the extent that Alabama had the highest demand for pharmacists in the nation. (2) While Auburn wanted to help meet the manpower needs of the state, space restrictions prevented expansion of AUHSOP in Auburn. However, the University of South Alabama indicated an interest in adding pharmacy education to their other health sciences programs to provide interdisciplinary health professions education.

In an effort to conserve state resources, the Alabama Commission of Higher Education encourages all state institutions to collaborate in offering graduate degrees through distance technology to increase accessibility. The advantages for the state of a satellite PharmD program in Mobile were a quicker start-up process, a streamlined accreditation process, and a location in the area of highest need of pharmacists within the state. In addition, a satellite campus would require less space, smaller support staff, fewer faculty members, and have lower overall fixed costs.

In this paper, we review the process to plan for and carry out implementation of a sattelite campus with a focus on technology needs as they related to physical plant, curriculum, faculty, and student performance and student satisfaction.


To oversee the planning process, the AUHSOP dean formed an ad-hoc committee composed of 20 school personnel including faculty members, staff members, and administrative representatives from all departments, offices, and divisions within AUHSOP to ensure input from all stakeholders. The dean worked with administrators at the University of South Alabama to develop a formal agreement establishing the satellite campus. The AUHSOP committee was responsible for all other aspects of establishing the satellite campus including facilities planning, admissions and student services, technology infrastructure, personnel resources, curricular needs, marketing, and operations. The committee was led by a chair and an administrative faculty member whose responsibilities focused on technology use. Committee members met weekly for approximately 9 months prior to the scheduled first day of classes in fall 2007.

Role of Curriculum

The AUHSOP PharmD curriculum, which incorporates team-based learning throughout, played an important role in driving technology, resource, and facilities decisions. Our introductory pharmacy practice experience (IPPE) meets in groups of approximately 16 students across the first through third (P1-P3) years. With students on 2 campuses, it was important that groups be able to meet via video conference. Additionally, our P3 year is predominantly small-group learning and relies on clinically trained facilitators to guide the learning process. …

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