Pharmacy schools confront new pressures

November 19, 2007

According to the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy pharmacy schools are growing despite increased oversight and a pending faculty shortage.

The Accreditation Council of Pharmacy Education has already announced that it expects pharmacy schools to meet much more stringent requirements for accreditation. The change comes about, in part, because of increased scrutiny and oversight of ACPE from the Department of Education. As a result, the pharmacy schools at Florida A&M and Howard University have been placed on probation recently-although Howard's school has since been removed. Maine warned that they are unlikely to be the only schools criticized. "We are going to see more probationary notices; I am positive of it," she explained.

At the same time, schools are also trying to expand to meet the demand for pharmacists. There are 100 pharmacy school programs in the country. In addition, 12 schools have hired founding deans but have yet to enroll students. Maine expects the number of pharmacy schools to rise to 110 by July 2009 and as many as one-quarter of pharmacy schools have opened new campuses. More than 11,000 students will graduate from pharmacy schools this year, an increase of more than 40% over 2004. "That's a remarkable increase," Maine said. "Schools have done an amazing job of responding to the national pharmacy shortage."