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Published: Wednesday, 3/9/2005

Colleges boost pharmacy offerings

BY KIM BATES
BLADE STAFF WRITER

As officials with the private Ohio Northern University begin to embark on a $4.5 million to $5.5 million building expansion for their College of Pharmacy, a nearby university is hoping to create its own pharmacy program.

The University of Findlay, which is about 15 miles northeast of ONU, is expected to request permission from the Ohio Board of Regents tomorrow to add a doctor of pharmacy program. The proposal must undergo additional approvals as well.

If granted, though, northwest Ohio would become home to three of five pharmacy programs in the state, with the third at the University of Toledo.

Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine, based in Rootstown, Ohio, also is preparing to take a similar proposal to the regents in the next few months, a spokesman there said.

The increase in pharmacy programs does not surprise experts in the field, who said the offerings are popping up in response to a national need for pharmacists coupled with a shortage of schools to accommodate the growing number of applicants.

"I would characterize it as unprecedented growth," said Lucinda Main, executive vice president of the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy.

She added that several new accredited college pharmacy programs have been introduced annually, with the figure expected to reach 100 in the next few years.

There are potential, problematic issues related to such surges, though. Ms. Main said one would be not having enough faculty members to teach courses, while the other would be a lack of enough clinical settings for students to utilize.

According to the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy, applications to pharmacy schools doubled from 1998-1999 to the 2002-2003 academic year, with more than 47,000 students applying in that year.

At the University of Toledo, about 1,300 students are enrolled in all of its pharmacy programs, an increase from 800 students five years ago, Dean Johnnie Early said.

In Ada, nearly 1,000 students are enrolled in ONU's pharmacy program, which has been in existence for 120 years.

Other pharmacy colleges are located at the University of Cincinnati and Ohio State University, both of which are public institutions.

ONU's pharmacy expansion, which got a boost on Monday with a $121,000 federal grant, will provide more classrooms, laboratories, lecture halls, conference rooms, and faculty offices. The main addition will be a 250-seat auditorium-classroom, Bobby Bryant, dean of the college of pharmacy, said.

The entire project will be known as the Hakes-Pierstorf Family Center, named after benefactors Scott Hakes and Ervin Pierstorf and their families.

Mr. Bryant said the private university isn't planning to increase its pharmacy enrollment with the addition, which is slated to open in the fall of 2006. But he said leaders view it as a better way to serve students.

"We think this is going to meet our needs for the next five to 10 years," Mr. Bryant said.

Daniel May, vice president of academic affairs at the University of Findlay, said the idea of pursuing a pharmacy degree program has been under discussion at the private school for several years. If all approvals and requirements are met, he said the target date for the first professional class to begin also would be in the fall of 2006.

"There's a great deal of activity in pharmacy right now. With the aging of the population, I'd expect more schools to look at it," Mr. May said.

In addition to its request for a pharmacy degree, Findlay leaders tomorrow also will seek the creation of a doctorate in physical therapy to complement an existing master's degree. It would mark the first such doctorate program offered at the university in Hancock County.

Contact Kim Bates at:

kimbates@theblade.com

or 419-724-6074.



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