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Legislature should approve USF’s bid for pharmacy school

USF’s bid to build a school of pharmacy was turned down by the Legislature in May — a move that likely left University officials dissatisfied.

Having a pharmacy school at USF would generate more revenue for the University in a worrying financial time and help the state address the lack of pharmacists in the field.

State legislators will eventually have to allow more public universities to build pharmacy programs. With Florida’s high population of senior citizens, it has a high demand for

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates that there will be a shortfall of 29,000 pharmacists in the United States by 2020. 

The Florida Agency for Workforce Innovation projects that employment opportunities in the field will grow by 23 percent over the next eight years.

During a time of layoffs, budget cuts and financial woes, wouldn’t it seem appropriate to provide citizens with services they need, as well as jobs for students entering the

USF certainly thought so, but its attempt to build a program was wrongfully denied, despite being passed unanimously by Florida’s House of Representatives.

Legislators seem afraid to provide any more money to the University, considering they cut $28.6 million from funding for the 2009-10 fiscal year.

However, another Florida university needs to build a pharmacy program soon, and it’s the Legislature’s job to realize that time is running out. By 2011, the first wave of baby boomers will be eligible for Medicare, and there will be a diminishing group who can dish out medications.

Only two public universities have pharmacy programs in Florida: the University of Florida and Florida A&M. They  only accepted a combined 450 people into their schools, despite having more than 3,000 applicants.

Associate Vice President of Government Relations Mark Walsh said USF will make another bid for a pharmacy school, but it will have to wait until 2010 to re-apply. If the Legislature then rightly decides to allow the program, USF would be able to capitalize on a much-needed source for tuition revenues, and the state could add to its diminishing group of trained pharmacists.

There’s no doubt that the state is limited in the amount of money it can provide for public education, but by denying universities the license to build pharmacy programs, it is only hurting itself.