Applications More Than Double at UB's School of Pharmacy

Nationally ranked school impacts quality of health care in Western New York,graduates in high demand with top pharmaceutical companies

Release Date: August 19, 2004 This content is archived.


BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Applications for the professional pharmacy degree program in the University at Buffalo School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences for the upcoming academic year more than doubled over last year, reflecting a strong nationwide demand for pharmacists and the school's reputation as one of the country's top pharmacy schools.

The school received 822 applications from across the U.S. to fill 117 slots in its six-year Pharm.D. program, compared with 384 applications for the 2003-04 academic year. The average grade-point average of applicants of 3.5 was a record high for the school.

"This was really more than we expected," says Wayne K. Anderson, Ph.D., dean of the school. "A jump of more than 100 percent in a single year in applications is extraordinary."

The UB School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences is the only pharmacy school in the State University of New York system. Its graduates are highly recruited by major pharmaceutical and biotech companies such as Novartis and Pfizer.

Anderson adds that more than 1,000 incoming UB freshmen this year have indicated that they intend to pursue a Pharm.D. degree after completing their freshman and sophomore years, a number that is up 35 percent over a year ago.

National trends, including a soaring number of prescriptions filled annually in the U.S. that now stands at more than 3 billion and that has been doubling every 10 years, and the expanded role that pharmacists are playing in health-care delivery, have contributed to steady increases in applications to pharmacy programs during the past five years.

Shortages of pharmacists have pushed annual starting salaries in the Buffalo area as high as $85,000 (with sign-on bonuses of as much as $15,000) and to more than $100,000 in some parts of the country.

The dynamic nature of the pharmacy profession also is drawing more potential students, Anderson notes.

"People are beginning to discover the variety of potential opportunities that the professional degree allows them to pursue," he says. "There are more than 100 job descriptions available to pharmacists, ranging from positions at the corner drugstore to those at the Federal Bureau of Investigation as pharmaceutical specialists.

"As medicines become more expensive and more complicated, and as more and more diseases that used to require a hospital stay can be treated on an outpatient basis with prescription drugs, the pharmacist's role on the health-care team is becoming even more critical," he adds.

As the only SUNY pharmacy school, UB traditionally has played a leading role in the training of the state's pharmacists, Anderson said. But the school's top-ranked research and education programs are resulting in increasing numbers of out-of-state applicants.

"In addition to our role in keeping some of the best and brightest students in the state, we're also bringing an incredibly strong talent pool into Western New York from other states," Anderson notes.

As part of the training for their expanded roles in health-care delivery, UB pharmacy students spend 40 weeks in full-time clinical clerkships, helping patients in Western New York with chronic diseases ranging from diabetes to asthma to HIV to better manage their health and their medications.

"People may overlook the impact that having a world-class health-care institution in their own community can have," says Anderson. "The fact that we have a top-ranked school of pharmacy in Western New York, along with the other health-care training programs at UB, really has a positive impact on the quality of health care that those of us who live here receive."

Students and faculty from the school work with local and regional partners, including Kaleida Health System, Erie County Medical Center, VA Medical Center, Buffalo Psychiatric Center, Community Healthcare Center of Buffalo, Buffalo Hospice, Niagara Hospice, University of Rochester, Rochester General Hospital and Rochester Psychiatric Center.

The UB School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences has received national recognition as:

* The first pharmacy school in the nation to offer a master's degree with a concentration in pharmacometrics, a new field that fuses pharmacologic studies with computational and statistical methods of data analysis.

* The originator of the nation's first program to certify practicing pharmacists around the world in management of antiviral treatment for patients with HIV.

* The first professional pharmacy program in the nation to require its students to take pharmacogenomics, the study of how data generated by the Human Genome Project can be used to tailor drug treatments to an individual's genetic makeup.

* The birthplace of pharmacodynamics, described as the interface where pharmacology meets physiology, that has changed fundamentally how new drugs are evaluated and approved. Every year, scientists from the world's top drug companies and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration attend pharmacodynamics seminars at UB so that they can generate better data about a drug's clinical effects.

* The fourth most productive pharmacy school in the U.S. in terms of research funding from the National Institutes of Health per faculty member, according to the latest report from the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy.

* Home of the only accredited nephrology residency program in the U.S.

* One of a handful of pharmacy schools in the U.S. with a hospice residency program.

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