UAA launches Alaska’s first pharmacy program

ANCHORAGE — The University of Alaska Anchorage is launching the state’s first entirely local pharmacy program in partnership with Idaho State University.

UAA announced Tuesday that students can apply for the joint pharmacy program, with classes to begin next year, the Alaska Dispatch News reported. Between 10 and 15 students will join the program’s first class, with more joining over the course of the program, said Tom Wadsworth, ISU assistant dean of Alaska programs.

Wadsworth said the program is part of UAA’s effort to produce graduates with specific job training to stay in Alaska’s workforce. While many pharmacists who work in Alaska stay for decades, some from the Lower 48 leave within a few years.

“You’ve got really very little tenure to continue building your programs on,” Wadsworth said. “The premise is that we get pharmacists — clinical pharmacists — who are reared in the state, who are from here and who will be networked into the pharmacy community here, so they stay here.”

Pharmacy program students will graduate with doctor of pharmacy degrees from ISU but attend classes at the Anchorage campus. Students will attend Idaho-based classes via video conference, while Idaho-based students will watch some Anchorage-based lectures.

Students will have to pay out-of-state tuition and fees to attend the program, which Wadsworth said will total $18,000 per semester.

UAA has an agreement with Creighton University School of Pharmacy and Health Professions in Nebraska to graduate pharmacists, but students must go to Nebraska for three weeks in the summer. The school holds five seats for Alaska students in its distance program to get their doctor of pharmacy degrees.

Of an estimated 516 pharmacist positions in urban Alaska, 21 were vacant in 2012, according to a report published by UAA in August 2014. In rural Alaska, 14 of 157 positions were vacant.

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