Publisher’s Window: November/December 2014

<!–– The Next Generation ––>

Fairleigh Dickinson University, located in Madison, N.J., decided a few years ago that a school of pharmacy would be a good opportunity to broaden its base of degree offerings. I was asked to serve on the advisory board during the developmental phase. This was quite an education, to see what goes into bringing a new school to fruition.

I recently had the opportunity to meet with Dr. Michael Avaltroni, dean of the school of pharmacy. He comes to this position with impressive credentials, including a Ph.D. from Princeton. While not a pharmacist by education, he is well educated in the sciences.

What Dean Avaltroni has accomplished in the three years since the school opened its doors is impressive. The school is housed in a modern three-story building about a third of a mile from the main campus. It has all the latest technology that one could ask for to enrich the learning experience. There has been no problem with enrollment. I also met with a few of the students while there. What impressed me is that they all had an undergraduate education and were now investing another four years to earn a Pharm.D. degree. When I asked what their plans were, once out in the world of pharmacy, one of the students told me that he wants to open a community pharmacy in the Bronx. I was pleased to hear that independent pharmacy is still perceived as a viable practice alternative.

During my visit Dean Avaltroni told me about a meeting he had attended, along with deans from a number of other schools, hosted by CVS at its headquarters in Rhode Island. What I heard was that CVS sees the demand for pharmacists growing in the coming years, not declining. One reason for this is the trend in biotech drugs. These drugs will require a different level of patient engagement and foster even closer working relationships with physicians and nurse practitioners. Consequently, specialty pharmacy is viewed as the direction in which pharmacy is heading. Monitoring patient adherence, tracking progress with the medications, and reporting side effects will be the responsibility of pharmacists. Another area that will trigger demand for pharmacists is immunizations. In fact, I learned that students at the school of pharmacy would gain certification to administer immunizations.

In closing, I want to relate an editorial I read a while ago in The New York Times that addressed the physician shortage. The forecast was that there would be a need for 130,000 more physicians than medical schools can produce in the coming years. The authors concluded that building more medical schools to pump out more physicians is not the solution. They mentioned that pharmacists, along with other ancillary care professionals, should see expanded roles. Pharmacists were viewed as a source of more patient counseling and urgent care. In other words, pharmacists will be in demand. CVS may very well have it right on the increased demand for pharmacists. It is just nice to know that schools of pharmacy like that of Fairleigh Dickinson University are doing their part to increase the availability of pharmacists to satisfy this expected demand. The next generation of pharmacists should find the profession rewarding in more than one way. CT

Bill Lockwood, chairman/publisher, can be reached at wal@computertalk.com.