USF pans out curriculum for new pharmacy school

The curriculum proposed for the new USF School of Pharmacy aims to prepare pharmacists for the future of medicine.

The newly-appointed dean of the school, Dr. Kevin B. Sneed, said he thinks the four-year doctoral degree program will be a significant contributor to the clinical, educational and research endeavors of USF Health.

The school, which is scheduled to open in fall 2011, will admit 50 students. The curriculum will focus on geriatrics, individualized medicine and leadership management, Sneed said.

Because USF is creating an entirely new program, Sneed said it will cost between $5 million and $7 million to develop.

“All of the (curriculum) is geared toward creating a future pharmacist from 2015 and beyond,” said Sneed, who was appointed earlier this month after a nationwide search. “I’m not building a program based on today’s standards.”

Sneed said the large elderly population in Florida creates a need to focus on geriatrics, or the health care of the elderly.

“We certainly think we need to contribute significantly to creating pharmacists to help meet the medication needs of the elderly here in the state of Florida,” he said.

The individualized medicine portion of the curriculum will focus on pharmacogenetics, Sneed said.

With pharmacogenetics, he said pharmacists will be able to build a medication regimen based on the genetics individual patients. This will allow pharmacists to predict possible drug reactions and what medications will work best for a patient, he said.

Under the leadership management component of the curriculum, Sneed said there will be a heavy emphasis on pharmacy informatics – the integration of computer technology and pharmaceutics.

Sneed said collaborations between the School of Pharmacy and the other programs within USF Health will be key to the success of the program.

He said he would also like to work with the College of Arts and Sciences, including the Department of Chemistry, so pharmaceutical and chemistry students could do joint research together to generate and create new medicines.

“Anytime you collaborate and you have an exchange of ideas across different disciplines, the student is always going to be the winner,” he said.

The school has partnerships with Bulls Country Pharmacy in the Marshall Student Center and Sweetbay pharmacies that will allow future students to gain clinical experience, Sneed said.

Sneed, who is the associate professor of family medicine and assistant dean and clinical director of the College of Medicine’s Division of Clinical Pharmacy, created the vision for the school, said University spokesman Michael Hoad.

“This is a very modern program that is very much focused on the new wave of personalized medicine,” Hoad said. “The pharmacists will play a new role at the center of the medical team, not just somebody who you send the prescription to, but who is there designing how it all works together.”

One goal of the program is to educate pharmacists who will stay in the area once they graduate, Hoad said.

“I think a lot of the graduates who come out of the program and are trained in this way will be able to practice around here and be part of the health care that everyone in this region receives,” he said. “Right now, Tampa Bay isn’t generating pharmacists who may want to stay here.”

The next step for the program is to submit an application for pre-candidate status to the accrediting agency, the American Council on Pharmaceutical Education, by January 2010, Sneed said. It will request that the agency does an evaluation of the program.

In June, the state Legislature didn’t approve the pharmacy school. However, Sneed said he doesn’t think that will happen again when USF submits its bill during the 2010 legislative session, which begins in March.

Every degree program in Florida requires a license from the state, which is approved by the Legislature, Sneed said.

“The reason that bill didn’t pass last year was really more about timing more so than anything else,” he said. “There were a number of very big issues that came up last year and kind of overshadowed our bill. We have communicated very well with our Tampa Bay leadership and we don’t anticipate that being a problem.”