Saturday, April 21, 2001

UK college of pharmacy would expand

The Associated Press

        LEXINGTON — University of Kentucky College of Pharmacy officials proposed Friday to expand programs and enrollment to help ease a growing shortage of pharmacists across the country.

        The plan establishes a statewide clinical education and training network for third- and fourth-year students, including satellite sites around the state, UK College of Pharmacy Dean Kenneth Roberts said.

        The proposal also has a goal of increasing enrollment in the college by as much as 50 percent.

        “As the only college of pharmacy in the state of Kentucky, we have a responsibility and duty to serve the entire state,” Mr. Roberts said during the dedication of a new 6,000-square-foot student lab.

        “We would intensify our recruitment efforts throughout the state of Kentucky. Hopefully, those young men and women from the different regions of the state would go back to those areas and make a difference in the lives of the people in those communities.”

        Under the proposal, students enrolled in the pharmacy program — which has been ranked in the top five nationally the past several years — would be selected in their third year of study to begin training at the satellite sites. Students now spend their fourth year doing a series of clinical rotations in an on- and off-campus internship program.

        The satellite sites would be at the Pikeville College School of Osteopathic Medicine in Pikeville; the UK Center for Rural Health in Hazard; St. Claire Medical Center in Morehead; the Trover Foundation Clinic in Hopkinsville; and at the University of Louisville Hospital.

        The new proposal would cost an additional $2.5 to $3 million annually. Mr. Roberts said he hoped much of that money would come from the state legislature during the 2002 session.

        Mr. Roberts also announced plans to expand the college's facilities from 85,000 square feet to up to 250,000 square feet — construction that would cost a projected $40 to $50 million. He said the College of Pharmacy is the UK Chandler Medical Center's top priority and the university's No. 2 priority for capital expansion funding for new construction.

        “There's no question that we will not be able to implement this expansion with our present resources,” Mr. Roberts said. “But we thought we needed to advise the people of this state that we are aware that there is a shortage of pharmacists and that we are eager to do something about that.”

        Nationwide, the number of pharmacy graduates has declined for the past several years while the need for pharmacists has continued to increase dramatically. UK graduates between 80 and 90 students annually but would increase that number to between 125 and 140 under the expansion plan.

        According to the American Pharmaceutical Association, the number of unfilled full- and part-time pharmacist positions in community practices nationally jumped from about 2,700 in 1998 to more than 7,000 in 2000.

        The use of prescription drugs has skyrocketed.

        “In 1992, for the first time in our country's history, the number of prescriptions dispensed on an outpatient basis exceeded 2 billion,” Mr. Roberts said. “Within eight years, that number jumped to over 3 billion. And it is projected that the number will exceed 4 billion by 2005.

        “So from 1992 to the present, we've nearly doubled the volume of prescriptions in this country but have not even come close to doubling the infrastructure and personnel needed to deliver and distribute these prescriptions.”

        Second-year pharmacy student Amanda Begley, 25, of Beattyville, said she would consider going back home to work after graduation.

        “It's good to know that I'm in a field with such high demand, and that I could get a job just about anywhere,” Ms. Begley said. “But it's hard to find people willing to go out to the small towns and rural areas and fill those needs.”

        As the university moves toward its goal of becoming a Top 20 public institution, Mr. Roberts said it couldn't afford to slow the progress one of its high-profile programs.

        “I am concerned that if we don't get our new building that we won't be able to expand enrollment,” he said.


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- UK college of pharmacy would expand
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