LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – There is a shortage of pharmacists and not enough graduates to fill the void. So two local universities are teaming up to try to help solve the problem.
Cassandra Hobbs, associate professor at Sullivan University, said pharmacists are pulling out of the industry due to poor work environments.
“Pharmacists are suddenly leaving the profession, a profession they love and excite them,” said Hobbs, who is also a member of the board of directors of the Kentucky Pharmacists Association.
“Not having enough support and continually being asked to meet unrealistic quotas that deter patient care,” Hobbs said. “So many practicing pharmacists cannot go to the bathroom when they have to go to the bathroom due to unrealistic expectations in the workplace.”
These factors – and a national decline in applications for pharmacy programs – have resulted in a shortage. Some pharmacies have resorted to reduced opening hours, as WDRB News previously reported.
It’s a problem Sullivan and Indiana University Southeast (IUS) hope their new partnership can help them.
“My local pharmacy is sometimes closed when I go there because they are short of workers,” said Elain Haub, dean of the IUS School of Natural Sciences. “So this is basically a five-year program that will put pharmacists at the disposal of our region. “
The new pharmacy degree path will allow high school graduate students to be accepted into both the IUS and Sullivan’s Doctor of Pharmacy program. Undergraduate and prerequisite courses will be completed at IUS, and when students complete their studies at Sullivan, some credits will transfer to IUS, allowing students to earn their PharmD from Sullivan as well as a bachelor’s degree from the IUS.
Prior to that, Haub said students who transferred to Sullivan’s program after completing their prerequisites often earned their PharmaD but would not come back to earn a bachelor’s degree.
“Clearly, there is a need for pharmacists,” said Misty Stutz, dean of Sullivan’s Pharmacy and Health Sciences College. “And we want to make sure that students interested in the health professions, especially pharmacy, have a way to make their dream come true and we think it’s an easier path.”
This path is something Hobbs excited about, seeing it as one of the many methods needed to bring more people into a profession essential to public health.
“My hope is that this program obviously fills some of that void,” Hobbs said. “We don’t need to stop here. You know, we don’t need to just stop with, “Oh, let’s bring more students into the profession. “We have to work from all angles.”
Hobbs said the Kentucky Pharmacists Association board of directors is also working to put things in motion that can improve the work environment to help reduce burnout.
“Pharmacists are able to play a very important role in public health, and we want to be able to continue to do so,” Hobbs said.
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