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ФβͼSchool of Pharmacy Receives NACDS Foundation Scholarship to Launch Career Exploration Program

ФβͼSchool of Pharmacy receives NACDS Foundation Scholarship to launch career exploration program

The Фβͼ School of Pharmacy is launching a new career exploration program for Milwaukee-area high schoolers. Participants in the Pre-Pharmacy Scholars Program will learn about various areas of pharmacy practice, attend a pharmacy school class, practice health screening skills, and shadow a pharmacist at their practice site. Scholars are matched with two mentors (a pharmacist and a student pharmacist) who will meet with them to discuss career aspirations throughout the year-long program.

The Pre-Pharmacy Scholars Program is funded by a National Association of Chain Drug Stores Foundation scholarship, designed to support projects that advance patient care by creating new learning opportunities for students and fostering diversity in pharmacy. The program’s vision was the collaborative effort of Abir El-Alfy, PhD, assistant dean for student affairs and Professor, George E. MacKinnon III, PhD, MS, RPh, FASHP, FNAP, founding dean and professor, and Kajua Lor, PharmD, BCACP, associate professor and chair of the department of clinical sciences.

Kajua Lor, PharmD, BCACPDr. Lor says the public’s perception of a pharmacist is typically of a community pharmacist, the dispensers of medications. “There are so many other areas of pharmacy that people might not know of, like myself, as an ambulatory care pharmacist in academia. There’s also hospital, clinical, pharmaceutical industry, compounding, veterinary, drug industry, managed care and regulatory side,” says Dr. Lor. “This program exposes students to move beyond the tip of the iceberg, to explore all of the other aspects of the pharmacy profession, and to gain an interest in a field they may not be familiar with.”

The program begins with a week-long boot camp on the Фβͼ’s Milwaukee campus, happening Monday, July 31 – Friday, August 4, 2023. Scholars will be immersed into the Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) curriculum and experience life as a student pharmacist. They’ll visit part of a lecture, get practice collecting vitals and engage in a compounding experience in the lab. Another core focus of the program is promoting health equity. During the boot camp week, scholars will attend sessions about inclusive leadership and innovation in pharmacy practice.

Later in the year, scholars will gain an understanding of what pharmacists do when they’re at the clinic and other settings. They will also accompany student pharmacists as they volunteer at clinics serving under-resourced communities.

Abir El-Alfy, PhD“We really want these students to develop the understanding that pharmacists serve the community. We want them to gain firsthand experience and think about the potential of themselves giving back to their community through a pharmacy career,” says Dr. El-Alfy.

The Pre-Pharmacy Scholars Program is open to all Milwaukee-area high schoolers. In particular, the program leaders are collaborating with three schools: the Hmong American Peace Academy, the Milwaukee Academy of Science, and St. Augustine Preparatory Academy.

Pharmacists emerged as valued and trusted healthcare providers during the pandemic. There are tremendous employment opportunities for pharmacists across urban and rural areas, with an estimated 90% of Americans living within five miles of a pharmacy. Pharmacists are also employed in hospitals and various patient care environments, including Veterans Affairs facilities. New pharmacist graduates are also assuming roles in the pharmaceutical industry at unprecedented rates. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 2.4% employment growth for pharmacists between 2021 and 2031, projecting 7,700 jobs should be created.

The ФβͼSchool of Pharmacy is in a unique position to highlight various pharmacist career opportunities, due to its proximity to and partnerships with Froedtert Health and Children’s Wisconsin. It is also uniquely positioned to offer incoming students a significant return on their investment in a PharmD, being one of only 18 institutions in the country that offers an accelerated three-year program, and few at an academic medical center.

Grant funding from the NACDS Foundation will support the 2023-2024 Pre-Pharmacy Scholars Program. To continue the program into future years, the ФβͼSchool of Pharmacy will need additional financial support. If you’re interested in contributing to the program, please contact Dr. Abir El-Alfy via email at aelalfy@mcw.edu.