UF Pharm.D. program to reduce class size, improve student-to-faculty ratio

Amid state and national trends showing a decline in the demand for pharmacists and an increased emphasis on interprofessional, team-based approaches to care, the University of Florida College of Pharmacy is embarking on a four-year plan to lower its student-to-faculty ratio as part of ongoing curriculum reform.

Starting next year, the college will gradually reduce the size of its student body and phase out the Pharm.D. degree program it offers on the St. Petersburg College campus in Seminole, refocusing its efforts on UF’s main campus in Gainesville and at its other UF-owned sites in Orlando and Jacksonville.

At the same time, UF will build on and enhance the best features of its nationally regarded Pharm.D. program by integrating the fundamental basic sciences with clinical sciences, so courses are taught within a clinical context. There also will be increased focus on the elements of personal and professional development that are key to a highly effective clinician, what some refer to as soft skills.

“We have to be responsible stewards for the patients our graduates ultimately serve and for our college and our students well into the future,” said UF College of Pharmacy Dean Julie A. Johnson, Pharm.D., a distinguished professor and licensed pharmacist. “That means focusing on addressing the needs of our profession, allocating our resources wisely and enriching our curriculum while lowering student-to-faculty ratios.”

The doctoral program at St. Petersburg College will continue operating until the students who are entering this fall have graduated in spring 2018. No new students will be admitted to the campus starting in 2015.

Johnson is planning a town hall meeting on the first day of class, Aug. 25, to address any questions the 218 students who are new or returning to the Seminole campus might have.

“Nothing has changed for our students on the UF campus at St. Petersburg College,” Johnson said. “Like every entry class since the campus opened in 2002, these students will enjoy the benefits of earning a UF Pharm.D. degree while completing service and practice rotations in pharmacies and clinical settings in the region.”

UF has been a member of St. Petersburg College’s University Partnership Center, composed of 16 colleges and universities offering bachelor’s and graduate degrees in the Pinellas County area. The mission of the center is to open its doors to partnering institutions and their programs at St. Petersburg College facilities to meet the educational demands of local residents, said James Olliver, Ph.D., provost of the St. Petersburg College Seminole campus. For the past 12 years, the UF College of Pharmacy faculty and staff have enjoyed the activities of the St. Petersburg College campus and have enhanced the campus with their presence, he added.

“We value our partnership with UF and the pharmacy program, and know it has brought great students to the campus and great pharmacists to the community,” Olliver said.