Signs are up at the University of North Texas Health Science Center announcing a new addition to the Fort Worth campus: UNT System College of Pharmacy.
Labs are being prepped. Final touches are being made to auditoriums and offices that will be ready when the college’s first class of pharmacy students arrives.
“We are ready to open our doors on Aug. 19,” said Myron K. Jacobson, dean of the UNT System College of Pharmacy.
The college will educate a new generation of pharmacists by integrating research, medication management and teamwork among different healthcare professionals. College leaders add that they are promoting the patient-to-professional relationship that is the norm at pharmacies.
Jacobson said the college is poised to excel in these areas as it will be the first college of pharmacy in Texas at an academic health science center campus.
“We’re excited,” Jacobson said. “A lot has been accomplished, but a lot of work lies ahead.”
A long quest
UNT had been on a quest to establish a pharmacy school for many years. The Texas Legislature approved UNT’s pharmacy proposal in spring 2011. House Bill 4 authorized UNT to establish the college with a curriculum leading to the doctor of pharmacy degree.
To date, the UNT System has spent about $2.7 million renovating space related to the college of pharmacy.
The plan got the green light from the University of North Texas Board of Regents in August 2011.
Earlier this month, the college announced it had been granted “pre-candidate accreditation,” which allows the admission of the inaugural class of doctor of pharmacy students.
The UNT System has been investing in research, academics and campus improvements. The work includes efforts to gain top research status. The system has been working on a new College of Law. The UNT Dallas College of Law is expected to enroll its first class in Fall 2014.
UNT System leaders have also been working to gain support for an M.D. program at UNTHSC.
The College of Pharmacy is the fifth school or college to be located on the UNT Health Science Center campus, which is located in Fort Worth’s cultural district.
The health science center is a graduate university that includes the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine, the Graduate School Biomedical Sciences and the School of Public Health.
Working as a team
The college of pharmacy is located on three floors of renovated space inside the Research and Education Building. There are currently 30 buildings on the 33-acre campus.
The four-year pharmacy program includes three years of classroom study, lab work and early clinical experiences, according to the college. During the fourth year, students will be involved in advanced clinical rotations that will lead to a Doctor of Pharmacy, or PharmD, degree.
Jacobson said the degree is a clinical degree. Students enrolled must have typical college core courses already completed before they can enter the program.
After completing their coursework, students must pass a licensing exam to practice pharmacy.
Nineteen faculty members have been recruited to lead the classes, and about 100 students are already enrolled, Jacobson said. Slightly more than half of the students are women, he said. Most of the class comes from throughout Texas – with the largest contingent coming from the Metroplex, Jacobson said.
Among the faculty recruited so far for the college is Catherine Wu, an assistant professor of physiology.
“I am very proud and happy to join the new school,” said Wu, who will teach and conduct research. She is currently working on research to help in the treatment of macular degeneration, which is a cause of vision loss, typically among older people.
Wu said they have been gearing up for the academic year by attending training, retreats and workshops aimed at helping them be stronger professors. They are also learning how to teach this generation of tech-savvy 20-somethings while keeping in mind the learning styles of older students.
Wu said the atmosphere leading up to the first days is dynamic.
“I think the best part of the College of Pharmacy is that we work as a team,” she said.