Many of us depend on the work of pharmacists, but there's a growing shortage nationwide, especially in Oklahoma. OU-Tulsa announced plans Tuesday to relieve the pharmacist shortage with a new Doctor of Pharmacy degree program.
KOTVâ€™s Glenda Silvey says May's Drugstore chain is one of many that could use several more good pharmacists. The University of Oklahoma College of Pharmacy is ready to prepare about 60 new students for this important job. A recent report from the Secretary of Health and Human Services warned of an unprecedented demand for pharmacists.
Oklahoma feels the pinch, and OU-Tulsa is responding with a Doctor of Pharmacy program at Schusterman Center beginning in fall, 2002. Carl Lyons, OU Asst Dean: "It's really not a new program; it's just an expansion of the one we have in Oklahoma City. I think the interesting aspect of it is we're going to be using live Internet instruction." Most pharmacists have bachelors' degrees, but OU joins others nationwide in meeting new accreditation standards requiring a Pharmacy Doctor, or Pharm-D degree. Deril Lees and other pharmacists at the Apothecary Shoppe are enrolled. Deril Lees, R.Ph: "We wanted to increase our knowledge, keep our skills up to date so that we can provide better patient care."
OU-Tulsa's program focuses on the changing role of the pharmacist, which emphasizes counseling and teaching patients when they fill their prescriptions. Joe Courtright, May's Drugstores: "We're certainly excited about it and see it as an opportunity to ease the shortage for us and people here in Tulsa." It's a challenge for May's to hire enough pharmacists, who make about $75,000 a year.
Courtright cites three reasons for the shortage, the increase in pharmaceutical advertising, number of drugs available, and the number one reason: we're all getting older. "And the baby boomers are starting to enter the age where they take more prescriptions, so since they occupy such a major subset of the population, we're starting to see a great demand there." Courtright says a recent Gallup poll listed "pharmacist" as the number one trusted profession, trust he feels is deserved, not only for the education required, but the concern for others. "The role of the pharmacist has dramatically changed in the last ten years. Previously we dispensed drugs - we dispensed a product. Now our main goal is to communicate with our patients."
OU's program takes six years, two in pre-pharmacy, which can be taken at TCC, TU, or most any other institution. Interested students should begin applying now.