The new dual degree, Doctor of Pharmacy and Master of Public Health (Pharm.D./MPH), offers the academic framework for pharmacy students to acquire public health knowledge and skills.
This optional dual track will increase the number of Pharm.D. graduates who are trained to meet the unique health care needs of rural and underserved individuals and families, and who are trained in public health, said Gary Yee, Pharm.D., professor and associate dean in the College of Pharmacy.
The dual track allows a student to complete both degrees with fewer credit hours than needed to complete the two degrees separately.
"Pharmacists working in rural or medically underserved areas would benefit from the community-oriented primary care concentration," Dr. Yee said.
"The dual degree gives students the knowledge, skills and competencies to recognize and understand the needs of populations and be able to provide care and services to prevent disease and promote the health of populations." Alice Schumaker, Ph.D.
Alice Schumaker, Ph.D.
The Veterans Administration, Indian Health Service, and many federally-funded community health centers employ pharmacists as clinical practitioners.
"The epidemiology or biostatistics concentration would be particularly helpful for pharmacists interested in an academic career. And the health policy or health promotion concentration would be helpful for pharmacists working in health policy or managed care," he said.
Increasing collaborative relationships, such as this one between the Colleges of Public Health and Pharmacy, is consistent with UNMC's focus on interprofessional education. Interprofessional education strengthens teamwork skills, promotes creativity, and instills the values of collaborative patient care, said Alice Schumaker, Ph.D., associate dean for academic affairs, College of Public Health.
"A Pharm.D./MPH degree responds to a growing need for pharmacists who also are knowledgeable in population-based health care. The dual degree gives students the knowledge, skills and competencies to recognize and understand the needs of populations and be able to provide care and services to prevent disease and promote the health of populations," she said.
"Targeting drugs to specific populations is becoming a reality and students need to understand the issues affecting these populations. Graduates are able to use their expertise and knowledge in areas such as conducting epidemiological research, leading programs, monitoring clinical trials, evaluating community-based programs and managing organizations/practices."
Several Pharm.D./MPH dual degree programs exist in the United States through accredited Schools of Public Health.