UMKC School of Pharmacy Update

By RUSSELL B. MELCHERT, Ph.D | Dean | UMKC School of Pharmacy

Thank you for the opportunity to update you on the UMKC School of Pharmacy! We are undergoing many changes right now, and this is a very exciting time for us!

Our curriculum has undergone some major changes recently. We have modified our curriculum from a “1-5” to a “2-4.5” meaning that approximately two years of pharmacy prerequisite courses are required for admission to our program, and the professional doctor of pharmacy program is approximately four and one-half years in duration. Functionally, this amounts to moving the “old” first year of our curriculum to prerequisite courses, but most of the courses taken will be the same as before (e.g. general chemistry through organic chemistry). The change required us to go through one year where we do not admit any students. Not having an incoming class this year is somewhat traumatic for most of us on faculty and staff at UMKC, but we will get through it. The worst part for us was telling some great students that they could not apply for admission in 2011. We really look forward to our incoming class next year, and we are already accepting applications for entry in the fall of 2012. All applicants will need to apply through the national PharmCAS system—information on the process is available on our website.

A second major change is that back in June of this year Governor Nixon signed legislation that will provide the funding necessary for us to expand our pharmacy program to the Missouri State University (MSU) campus in Springfield. Even though the economy has exerted a significant negative impact, demand for pharmacists continues to outstrip supply throughout the country, particularly in rural states. Missouri is no exception to this phenomenon, and according to the latest Pharmacy Manpower Project data, Missouri’s demand for pharmacists continues to exceed supply and continues to be higher than the national average. Further, our school of pharmacy continues to receive requests for pharmacists from pharmacies in rural parts of the state. Our expansion of the program to the MU campus in Columbia has helped with this issue to some degree with the vast majority of our first two graduating classes (2010, 2011) filling positions throughout central and southern Missouri. Our graduate placement data trend seems to support the conclusion that regional programs can help meet regional demand for pharmacists. If all goes as planned and we receive approval to expand the program from our accrediting body, then we plan to enroll the first group of students on the MSU campus in the fall of 2014. We are very excited about this opportunity, and we are most grateful for the commitment of our partners at MSU and in the hospitals, clinics, and pharmacies throughout Springfield and the surrounding communities!

Yet another major change is that our enrollment for the fall of 2012 will return to our “pre-Caring for Missourians” level. That is, with the CFM funds, we were able to increase our enrollment by 15 students per year for three years. Beginning next fall, our entering class will go down by 15 and consist of 95 students in Kansas City and 28 students in Columbia. For the fall of 2014, we are planning on admitting 30 students per year at the MSU site. If approved, all students applying to the UMKC School of Pharmacy in 2014 will be able to indicate their preference for Columbia, Kansas City, or Springfield.

We also received several pieces of other good news over the past year. Despite the difficult economy and tight federal funding, our basic science faculty received eight new federal and foundation research grants, supplements to grants, and patents. New grants and/or patents were awarded to Drs. Hari Bhat, Kun Cheng, Santosh Kumar, Simon Friedman, Ashim Mitra, Mridul Mukherji, and Celestin Youan. Together with the rest of our outstanding scholars and researchers, the UMKC School of Pharmacy will most likely move into the upper 25% of pharmacy schools in terms of extramural research next year!

Once again, we find ourselves in very exciting times for the UMKC School of Pharmacy! Students, staff, and faculty alike are all part of a pivotal point in the 125 year history of our great school, and we are grateful for the support the MPA has provided in our education and patient care missions. Wherever you are, you can always assist us and the profession by talking to children about your profession and recruiting them to pharmacy school—it’s never too early to start recruiting! Thank you everyone!

You are all more than welcome to come visit us any time. Just send me an e-mail and let me know when you are coming. We enjoy showing people around the school in Kansas City and in Columbia!

Have a great fall and holiday season!

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