Magazine article Drug Topics

School Crossing

Magazine article Drug Topics

School Crossing

Article excerpt

While the profession of pharmacy has never been stagnant, the scope of changes into the next century will likely be unprecedented. Whether creating or reforming the curriculum, schools will be facing both exciting and challenging times as they look beyond the profession's traditional roles to prepare their graduates for the future.

"What [fueled the change] was not the degree issue per se but the focus on the kind of practitioner we needed to develop to practice into the 21st century," said Richard Penna, associate executive director for the American Association of the Colleges of Pharmacy. "When all issues were addressed, it was clear that we needed a curriculum at the doctoral level," said Penna.

"The change to Pharm.D. has been coming for a while. We've been for it from the start, but not all schools have," said Julian Fincher, dean of pharmacy at the University of South Carolina. "They will all have to deal with it eventually though."

While the profession has been evolving, however, change at the academic level has been difficult and has not come without some resistance.

"AACP was the last group on board. The professional organizations such as ASHP and the American Pharmaceutical Association saw it coming," said Mary Anne Koda-Kimble, vice chair of the division of clinical pharmacy at the University of California at San Francisco.

The hesitation was to be expected, explained Marcellus Grace, dean of pharmacy at Xavier, one of several schools switching to an all-Pharm.D. program. "The educators were the last group to endorse the push for Pharm.D. conversion, because we had a lot more to consider. For us it wasn't just talk. We were the ones who actually had to do it," he explained.

"Curriculum is harder to change than anything else," Koda-Kimble concurred. "Our faculty is spread thin, as it is."

Recognizing this, AACP established guidelines for the change, but no timeline. "We didn't establish a timeline, because We recognized that every school has a different availability of resources," said Penna. But a special report published by AACP in November 1991 reemphasized the importance of the change. Commonly referred to as Background Paper II, it has established a standard and a goal for the process based on an evolving standard of "pharmaceutical care."

"The traditional method of prescribing and dispensing medication is no longer appropriate to ensure safety and effectiveness of drug therapy. The future of pharmacy as a health-care profession lies in its ability to contribute to the rational use of medication," the report said. …

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