ANNAPOLIS – The College of Notre Dame of Maryland is set to become the first women’s college in the nation to establish a school of pharmacy.
The Maryland Higher Education Commission voted unanimously Thursday to approve the college’s request to add a doctor of pharmacy degree – specializing in women’s health – to its liberal arts program.
Currently, the state has only one accredited pharmacy school, at the University of Maryland, Baltimore. The addition of this new program will add places for 65 pharmacy students beginning in the fall of 2008. By 2012 the college anticipates a full capacity of 240 students and the program would be open to women and men.
“There’s all kinds of support for this, as faculty we enjoy improving programs of quality and substance,” said Joann Boughman, member of the commission.
Boughman said the college provided a strong proposal that showed “compelling” evidence of the need for pharmacists in the state.
“I think Notre Dame plays a unique role in the state and I’m pleased to see it expanded in this way,” said Suzanne Shipley, the dean of faculty and vice president for academic affairs for the North Baltimore women’s college.
The school’s next step is to hire a dean within the next few weeks and faculty over the next several years. Now that the college has received state approval and regional accreditation it can apply for national accreditation from the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education, which may take a year.
A pharmacy company representative said that the program is important because it addresses the workforce shortage of pharmacists in the state.
“People need access to appropriate medical care and if you don’t have pharmacists how can you serve them?” said Stanton Ades, senior vice president of Neighbor Care, a pharmacy company that services nursing home patients. “Because of the shortage a number of pharmacies have cut back hours because they can’t adequately staff pharmacists, but there’s still a need.”
A nationwide shortfall of 157,000 pharmacists will exist by 2020, according to a 2002 study by David A. Knapp, dean of the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy. This shortage expands daily as the baby boomer generation of pharmacists retires and as the population ages.
The college hopes to recruit students for its program that will stay in Maryland and work as pharmacists, Shipley said.
She said by working with the pharmacy industry the college hopes to place students in work environments that they enjoy so they stay in the state.
The college also plans to recruit at community colleges to help attract a diverse pool of applicants.
Although the program is not the college’s first doctorate degree it is a “first-professional degree,” which allows students without four-year degrees to be accepted into what is normally a graduate level program. Students do not need a bachelor’s degree, but they are required to have a minimum of two academic years or 64 to 67 credits of coursework with a science emphasis from a regionally accredited institution, and a 2.5 grade point average to be accepted.