UMES Welcomes First Pharm.D. Students

  • Tuesday, August 10, 2010

    New program is part of expansion of allied health training

    PRINCESS ANNE, MD - The University of Maryland Eastern Shore launched its newest doctoral studies program in August with the arrival of the inaugural class of pharmacy students.

    Earning a spot in the first class was competitive. UMES received 931 applications and interviewed 150 prospective students for just 60 seats.

    A week of orientation culminated with a "white (lab) coat" ceremony the day before classes formally started on Aug. 16.

    The new professional program at UMES will produce its first graduates in three years - not the usual four.

    That's because students - all of whom have completed two-to-four years of college work - will take classes year-round to earn a doctor of pharmacy degree, the profession's entry-level credential.

    UMES is among just 12 schools in the country offering the year-round schedule, according to the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education.

    Dr. Nicholas R. Blanchard, UMES' pharmacy school dean, said Pharm.D. graduates routinely get job offers with a six-figure starting salary.

    According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the median income in 2009 for all pharmacists was $109,180. "Job prospects are expected to be excellent" through the remainder of this decade, the agency's website predicts.

    Expansion of health care instruction has been a focus of Dr. Thelma B. Thompson's tenure as UMES' president. A Pharm.D. program fit her vision of the institution's role in the 21st century.

    It took UMES six years to build its case before the University System of Maryland's governing board authorized the program in 2007.  Dr. Ronnie Holden, a long-time senior administrator at UMES, said the late Del. Page Elmore played a critical role assisting the university in receiving state-level approval for its initiative.

    One-third of the 60 pharmacy students are from Delmarva; two-thirds are minorities.

    Pharmacists will play a crucial role in shaping health care treatment as baby boomers age and researchers continue producing new drugs to combat illnesses and diseases.

    Blanchard became dean in 2008 and has been working to shape a curriculum and build a 20-member faculty. As the next two classes arrive, he anticipates adding nine more professors.

    UMES' pharmacy program is eligible for full accreditation in 2013, when it will serve a total of 180 students.

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    Bill Robinson, UMES Office of Public Relations, 410-621-2355. wrobinson3@umes.edu

    Gail Stephens, UMES Office of Public Relations, 410-651-7580. gcstephens@umes.edu