Building on Our Strengths to Cultivate Pharmacy Leaders and Innovators
Students enrolling in the doctor of pharmacy program at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy will experience an enriched curriculum beginning in the fall of 2015.
- You won’t sit through a lot of long lectures. You’ll be active. Professors will challenge you to think critically and to solve problems in the classroom, and you will be applying important concepts as you learn them.
- You will be immersed in patient care early and continually in your education as a member of an interdisciplinary health-care team.
- You will pursue scientific inquiry and learn to create innovative solutions to real-world problems.
Health care is changing rapidly, and we are building on our experience as innovative pharmacy educators to better prepare our graduates to be exemplary health-care professionals in a system that seeks to be more collaborative, efficient, and effective.
Health Care Is Changing
Employers Want More
At the same time, employers within and outside health care are increasingly seeking inquisitive individuals who are able to think critically, communicate clearly, adapt to change and work effectively in teams to solve complex problems. All too often, students possess great discipline-specific knowledge but lack the skills essential to survive in an increasingly competitive and global society.
We Are Innovating
As if the changes in health care and employer demands aren’t enough, the amount of information about health and medicines that aspiring health professionals must master has grown substantially. We no longer accept the outdated assumption that a professor’s job is to teach you everything you need to know. We recognize that you are a native of this highly interconnected world where information is easily available and freely accessible and technologies abound to support your learning.
In response, we have improved not only what we teach but how we teach to better position you for success.
Our Strengths Build Your Skills
At a time when innovation is crucial, we are building on our strengths to better prepare you with the skills you will need to improve human health and health care.
- We will foster habits of inquiry, innovation, and discovery.
- We will ensure that you are learning within complex systems of care.
- We will provide opportunities for you to function in and lead teams toward improvement and change.
For an in-depth look at our perspective on pharmacy education, read “A Renaissance in Pharmacy Education at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill” in the North Carolina Medical Journal (PDF link).
- Introduces you to the foundational pharmaceutical sciences, which are the building blocks of pharmacy
- Gives you the solid foundation you’ll need to start working with patients and health-care professionals
- Early experiences in the real-world practice of pharmacy followed by reflection and discussion
- Hands-on pharmacy innovation and problem solving
- Small-group and large-classroom experiences to further learning, professional development, and career-path exploration
- Begins the summer after the first year.
- Numerous advanced patient-care and elective rotations
- Opportunities for you to mature your approach to pharmacy practice and to define your career path
Change Is Here
Health care is evolving rapidly. Pharmacists must grow and change with it. A successful practitioner will be able to do the following:
- Participate as an integral member of the health-care team
- Evaluate and create new opportunities to improve patient care and care delivery
- Act responsibly, ethically, and professionally at all times
- Shape policy and lead change in the profession and in health care
It’s impossible for us to teach you everything you’ll ever need to know. And we embrace that fact.
What we will do is ensure that you develop a deep understanding of the foundations of the pharmaceutical sciences, pharmacy practice, and patient care.
And we’ll do much more.
The Much More
Our curriculum maximizes interaction between student and professor. Our faculty will inspire you and foster in you a collection of skills and habits of mind that will set you apart as a scholarly and inquisitive practitioner who will learn throughout your lifetime.
Ultimately, it’s this combination of inspiration and education that will transform you into an exemplary pharmacy practitioner and an innovative leader who recognizes the health-care needs of patients and leads change to improve patient care.
A Distinctive Approach
Our curriculum is engaging, relevant, and contemporary. You will study foundational science intensely for one year. You will learn in the context of mentored direct patient care beginning immediately after year one and continue to be immersed in pharmacy practice for up to seventeen months. You will also dedicate time to developing skills necessary for inquiry, problem solving, and innovation.
In class, your professors will challenge you to think critically and to solve problems by actively applying important concepts. This in-class active learning is possible because you’ll have already gained the knowledge you need through self-directed learning outside the classroom.
You will be immersed in patient care early and continually in your education as a member of an interdisciplinary health-care team. You will pursue scientific inquiry and learn to create innovative solutions to real-world health-care problems.
During your first year, you will focus on the foundations of pharmacy and pharmaceutical sciences through an active-learning approach that centers on you.
Our goal is to expose you to the underlying fundamentals and give you the chance to apply what you are learning, to solve complex problems, to think deeply and critically, and to develop the skills necessary to be a self-directed, lifelong learner.
A Fast Start with Familiar Favorites
We won’t ask you to spend months revisiting prerequisite course work you’ve already completed. Instead you start with our unique Pharmacy Bridging Course that involves five modules in the first month:
- Organic chemistry
- Applied mathematics
During the Pharmacy Bridging Course, you review the basic subject matter while exploring its connection and application to pharmacy-specific problems.
Foundations of Pharmacy
Next up are eight courses exploring the following subjects that provide the foundational knowledge for patient care:
- On Becoming a Pharmacist (fall)
- Pathophysiology of Human Disease (fall)
- Molecular Foundations of Drug Action (fall)
- Evidence-Based Practice (fall)
- Pharmaceutics and Drug Delivery Systems (spring)
- Pharmacokinetics (spring)
- Clinical Pharmacology (spring)
- S. Health-Care System (spring)
These courses have been newly designed and built from the ground up with you in mind. Rather than focusing on discipline-specific minutia, we’ll be working to reinforce the notion that there’s a patient at the end of every lesson. By engaging in deep learning, you’ll work alongside our world-class faculty to prepare for patient-care experiences.
You’ll be ready for the challenges of the active classroom thanks to online modules and pre-class readings that deliver the information you need to you outside of class.
The factual content of the courses is thoughtfully packaged and available to you for self-directed learning outside of class. Class time is devoted to faculty-student interactions and higher forms of thinking and problem solving.
Foundations of Patient Care
A ninth course prepares you for early patient care in a real-world setting by emphasizing connections among content areas and giving you the foundational knowledge and skills needed to begin caring for patients.
In parallel with the major courses noted above, you’ll be engaged in a set of courses that allow you to practice and develop proficient skills in pharmacy. These courses include self-guided online modules in Pharmaceutical Calculations and Medical Terminology, as well as a laboratory course in Pharmaceutical Compounding. In addition, you will earn an Immunization Certificate that will allow you to immunize patients as early as your third month on campus.
An Introduction to Pharmacy Innovation and Problem Solving
Finally, we will orient you to an integrated series of courses designed to foster inquiry and innovation. This series will continue in the third semester (year two) with hands-on experiences and small-group problem solving built around real-world problems in pharmacy and health care.
PHCY 500 – Pharmacy Bridging Course (3.5 hours)
This course comprises five modules in the core science and math subjects: organic chemistry, biochemistry, physiology, applied math and biostatistics. The course supplements knowledge from students’ prepharmacy coursework and frames the material in the context of pharmacy and health-care applications.
PHCY 501 – On Becoming a Pharmacist (2.0 hours)
The course orients students to the vision, guiding principles and outcomes of the PharmD program, to the core competencies integral to student success and to pharmacy career opportunities and the real-world importance of the core competencies. Students explore how the principles of professionalism, leadership and innovation can transform pharmacy.
PHCY 502 – Pathophysiology of Human Disease (3.5 hours)
The course transitions from human physiology to a clinical understanding of select high-priority human disease states. The course explores processes whereby disease states develop and progress and associated changes in tissues and organs. Contemporary biomedical science is integrated to establish a knowledge base for clinical pharmacology and pharmacotherapeutic approaches.
PHCY 503 – Molecular Foundations of Drug Action (3.5 hours)
The course explores the fundamental mechanisms of drug action emphasizing the modulation of interactions between endogenous ligands and targets. Key target types include nucleic acids, enzymes, kinases, GPCRs, nuclear receptors, transporter proteins and ligand-gated ion channels. Key concepts include enzyme action, regulation, inhibition and signal transduction.
PHCY 504 – Evidence-Based Practice (3.0 hours)
The course teaches students to identify, critically evaluate and interpret scientific literature to support the conscientious, explicit and judicious use of current best evidence in making decisions about the care of individual patients. Skills developed include experimental design, identifying gaps in knowledge, asking relevant questions and drawing appropriate conclusions.
PHCY 505 – Medical Terminology 1 (0.5 hour)
The course provides foundational knowledge of the medical terminology used in contemporary pharmacy practice that allows health-care practitioners to communicate with one another and with patients. Students build a vocabulary that will enable them to clearly communicate medical information in their future practices.
PHCY 507 – Pharmaceutical Calculations 1 (1.0 hour)
The course develops skills in pharmaceutical calculations and problem solving necessary in contemporary pharmacy practice. Students work step-by-step through real-world pharmaceutical and clinical calculations and gain greater understanding of the fundamental principles and basic techniques involved in the application of calculations needed for successful pharmacy practice.
PHCY 509 – Immunization Certificate Training Program (0.5 hour)
The course is based on the APhA Pharmacy-Based Immunization Delivery Certificate Training Program. The practice-based curriculum combines science and clinical pharmacy to educate students about professional opportunities for vaccine advocacy and administration. The health-care team approach fosters implementation of interventions that promote disease prevention and public health.
PHCY 506 – Medical Terminology 2 (0.5 hour)
Prerequisite, PHCY 505. The second course in a two-semester sequence. Foundational knowledge of the medical terminology used in contemporary pharmacy practice that allows health care practitioners to clearly communicate medical information with one another and with patients.
PHCY 508 – Pharmaceutical Calculations 2 (1.0 hour)
Prerequisite, PHCY 507. The second course in a two-semester sequence. Foundational concepts and skills in pharmaceutical calculations and problem-solving necessary for contemporary pharmacy practice. Focus on fundamental principles and basic techniques involved in the application of calculations.
PHCY 510 – Foundations of Clinical Pharmacology (3.5 hours)
Foundational knowledge of organ system pharmacology and the impact a drug’s absorption, distribution, metabolism, and excretion (ADME) properties on its pharmacology. Systematic approach to solving common drug regimen problems by consideration of disease clinical features, acute and chronic effects of drug action on disease pathophysiology, and underlying clinical pharmacology issues.
PHCY 511 – Foundations of Clinical Pharmacokinetics (3.5 hours)
Primary biological processes that govern the fate of a drug after its administration, mathematical models of those processes, mechanisms by which disease, genetics, diet, and other medications influence those processes. Focus on concepts and appropriate use of quantitative tools to develop individualized drug dosage regimens and determine pharmacokinetic parameters.
PHCY 512 – Pharmaceutics & Drug Delivery Systems (3.5 hours)
Physicochemical principles and manufacturing methods of small-molecule and biological drugs. Development of delivery systems to achieve successful pharmacological or immunological outcome. Foundational knowledge to enable rational decision-making about drug therapy based on the principles of drug delivery systems.
PHCY 513 – Pharmaceutical Compounding (2.0 hours)
Introduction to the science and practice of compounding in the United States. Role of pharmacy compounding in community and hospital pharmacy settings, interrelationships between the physical and chemical aspects of compounding, acceptable techniques of preparing individual prescriptions, and regulations and standards governing this practice.
PHCY 516 – Foundations of Patient Care 1 (2.0 hours)
Foundational knowledge and skills in the principles and practice of pharmacy, emphasizing a consistent approach to a systematic patient care process for delivering patient-centered, team-based healthcare. Application of this process of care to seven common disease states.
PHCY 518 – Introduction to U.S. Health Care (1.0 hour)
Introduction to the U.S. health care system, including programs and policies that shape health care. Insight into the major components and stakeholders comprising the healthcare ecosystem, the main barriers impacting the provision of high quality care, and the opportunities to advance health care for patients and populations.
PHCY 520 – Introduction Pharmacy Innovation & Problem Solving (1.0 hour)
The first in a series of courses designed to foster the habits of mind of scholarly and entrepreneurial practitioners. Introduction to real-world problems faced by pharmacists, and to a problem-solving process for addressing and potentially solving these problems. Orientation to problem domains wherein pharmacists and pharmaceutical scientists contribute.
To Learn, One Must Do.
There is a fundamental body of information you must learn, but you don’t have to learn all of it in the classroom. Deeper learning occurs when you retain information for a long time and when you can apply that information to new situations. The deepest learning is most likely to result from the things that you do. To take advantage of this, we are moving some classroom instruction out into the real world, where you spend a great deal of time involved in caring for patients and learning to function in complex systems as a member of an interdisciplinary health-care team.
Early Patient Care
You will begin working with patients immediately after your first year. When you learn something new, we want you to be as close to the application of that knowledge as possible.
Throughout the second and third years, you will have a total of six months of patient-care activities alternating with School-based courses and activities.
We plan to complement your experiences with self-directed online learning tools addressing contemporary therapeutics. A key advantage of this approach is that you’ll be learning things in the classroom just in time to apply them in the real world.
Alternating with your patient-care immersion experiences, you will spend blocks of time back on campus. During these School-based blocks, you will engage in problem-based learning in pharmacotherapeutic decision-making that integrates advanced clinical pharmacology and pharmacokinetics. We also set aside time for you to study emerging topics and take elective courses.
Beginning in the third semester, you will participate in a project designed to foster inquiry, critical thinking and innovation. This experience focuses on real-world problems and shows you that there is a common process for identifying and framing problems so that you can develop effective solutions.
Our goal is to train your mind to naturally seek solutions to problems you encounter in order to address society’s needs through innovation. This positions you to be a curious and creative professional, change agent and leader. These “habits of mind” and problem-solving abilities will define you as an inquisitive and scholarly practitioner ready to take on the challenges of a rapidly changing health-care world.
Think About It
Learning by doing is an incomplete proposition. What really enables you to learn is reflection. In other words, you have to do and then think about what you did.
Setting aside time to talk about what you’ve seen, done, and learned with professors, preceptors and peers is a crucial step in the learning process.
Our immersive, experiential learning opportunities are complemented by mentored reflection on patient-care and health-system experiences. In addition to reflection, your time back on campus provides opportunities for other faculty-mentored activities, including the following:
- Integration and connection of foundational and pharmacotherapy knowledge to patient care
- Exposure to advanced concepts, emerging topics, and leadership and professional development
- Elective course work
- Individualized career-path exploration
During the fourth year of the curriculum, you leave the classroom behind and immerse yourself in advanced patient care. This is your opportunity to mature in your approach to pharmacy practice and gain a wide variety of experience to help you bring your intended career path into focus.
During this year, you are primarily engaged in clinical-practice experiences beginning in May for a total duration of ten months. You will practice in outpatient ambulatory settings and inpatient health-system settings, applying your knowledge and skills to improve patient care and health-care delivery. In addition, nearly one-third of your fourth-year experiences will be elective opportunities of your choice.
“A Renaissance in Pharmacy Education at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill”
North Carolina Medical Journal, January/February 2014
“The Flipped Classroom: A Course Redesign to Foster Learning and Engagement in a Health Professions School”
Academic Medicine, February 2014
“Transforming a Large-Class Lecture Course to a Smaller-Group Interactive Course”
American Journal of Pharmacy Education, November 2010
Why Change Is Needed
Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, 2007″Transforming Health Care: A Safety Imperative”
Quality and Safety in Health Care, December 2009
Calls for Change
“Calls for Reform of Medical Education by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching: 1910 and 2010”
Academic Medicine, February 2010
“Preparing Medical Students for the Continual Improvement of Health and Health Care: Abraham Flexner and the New ‘Public Interest’”
Academic Medicine, September 2010
The Employer Perspective
“It Takes More than a Major: Employer Priorities for College Learning and Student Success” (PDF)
Association of American Colleges and Universities, April 2013