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  May 14, 2001

First Class of Pharm.D. Students
Set to Receive Degrees May 20

Fifty-four students will graduate on May 20 with a Doctor of Pharmacy degree.

They are the first class at UConn to have earned the Pharm.D. degree, a new, six-year program.

In the past, UConn's future pharmacists completed a five-year program to earn a bachelor of science degree in pharmacy that prepared them to sit for the state licensing exam. The last five-year class graduated in 1999.

Students in the expanded program complete two years of pre-pharmacy requirements before being admitted into the School of Pharmacy for an additional four years.

The new program provides students with a variety of experiential training. During their final year, students are placed in nine different clinical settings - from institutional and community pharmacies - to long-term care facilities and the pharmaceutical industry.

"We are preparing our students for the highest level of pharmacy practice in the nation," says Michael Gerald, dean of the School of Pharmacy. "The people of Connecticut will be served by very well educated and trained individuals."

The new professional degree program is critical to the 75-year-old school's future, Gerald says. Within a few years, all schools of pharmacy will be required to offer the Doctor of Pharmacy in order to maintain their accreditation.

Twenty of this year's graduates have been placed in prestigious post-Pharm.D. residencies and fellowships. "Their success is a real measure of the quality of our program," Gerald says.

UConn pharmacy graduates are also finding plenty of job opportunities in the field. This year's graduates are being actively recruited for jobs in community and hospital pharmacies, clinical positions in hospitals, the pharmaceutical industry, and government service.

There is a nationwide shortage of pharmacists that is likely to exist for the next five to 10 years, Gerald says.

Reasons for the shortage include the growing range of job options for licensed pharmacists, increasing numbers of prescription drugs needed by the nation's aging population, and the rise and expansion of drug store chains.

"It's not that pharmacy schools around the nation are turning out fewer graduates, but rather the demand for the graduates is increasing," Gerald says.

He anticipates that by 2005, UConn will graduate 90 new pharmacists each year.

Sherry Fisher

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