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The program combines a doctorate in pharmacy from Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy and a medical degree from Rutgers University’s Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.
The Affordable Care Act is breeding new healthcare delivery models, emphasizing provider integration - hospitals, physicians, and pharmacists - teamwork, and patient management across a continuum of care.
One of the latest examples is a dual-degree program combining a doctorate in pharmacy from Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy and a medical degree from Rutgers University’s Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.
An interdisciplinary approach
The program is the brainchild of Joseph Barone, dean and distinguished professor at the school of pharmacy, who began noticing that some of his pharmacy students were going on to medical school after graduation.
The dual degree supports Rutgers’ interdisciplinary approach to education, which Barone says has been a priority for many years. “We are not trying to produce super pharmacists and physicians, but the program will enable students to better understand how drugs work,” he says.
“In light of the Affordable Care Act, teamwork between doctors and pharmacists will be important in creating efficiencies and a higher level of care,” he said.
The two schools operate under the umbrella of the new Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences in New Brunswick, N.J. The 10-year program, scheduled to start in fall 2014, will offer instruction in basic and clinical sciences and train professionals in healthcare policy, research, and clinical diagnosis and treatment.
In addition, students will have the opportunity to participate in seminars, develop and implement research programs, share ideas representing both disciplines and participate in clinical rotations and clerkships.
Barone said that he expects the dual degree to produce a new breed of researchers and policymakers among graduates as they combine pharmacotherapy and clinical skills to help design drug trials and develop new therapies, address critical healthcare issues, and serve in academia.
The PharmD program, targeting students already enrolled in the doctorate program at the Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy, is available after two pre-professional and two professional years of training at the school of pharmacy. Students apply in the spring of their second professional year for two additional years of training, followed by a four-year medical school education.
Barone, who said that this is the first dual pharmacy/medical school degree program in the country, expects three to five students to enroll each year.
“I think the program will be a real game-changer in healthcare education,” he said.