Students must be outstanding to succeed at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy, but those students enjoy exceptional opportunities.
Students must be outstanding to succeed at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy, but those students enjoy exceptional opportunities.

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

The U.S. health-care system is in need of change to improve both the quality and the delivery of patient care and to reduce health-care costs (see, for example, reports here and here).

In response, numerous calls have emerged for reform in health-professions education to better prepare students.

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 We no longer accept the outdated assumption that a professor’s job is to teach you everything you need to know.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).

mumper_littleYear One: Foundations of Pharmacy

  • 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

Research 1Years Two and Three: Immersion in Patient Care and Engagement in Inquiry and Innovation

  • 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.

patient_care_handshakeYear Four: Advanced and Elective Pharmacy Practice Experiences

  • 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

Click for a graphical overview of the PharmD curriculum.
Click to see a graphical overview of the PharmD curriculum.

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.

A group of short courses in the first month gets everyone on the same page and ready to tackle coursework that will prepare you to begin working with patients and the health-care team.
A group of short courses in the first month gets everyone on the same page and ready to tackle coursework that will prepare you to begin working with patients and the health-care team.

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 five short courses in the first month:

  • Organic chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Physiology
  • Applied mathematics
  • Biostatistics

During these short courses, you review the basic subject matter while exploring its connection and application to pharmacy-specific problems.

Foundations of Pharmacy

You'll be ready for the challenges of the active classroom thanks to online modules that deliver the information you need to you outside of class.
You’ll be ready for the challenges of the active classroom thanks to online modules that deliver the information you need to you outside of class.

You’ll be ready for the challenges of the active classroom thanks to online modules that deliver the information you need to you outside of class.

Next up are seven courses exploring the following subjects that provide the foundational knowledge for patient care:

  • Biology of human health and disease
  • Molecular foundations of drug action
  • Pharmaceutics
  • Pharmacokinetics
  • Clinical pharmacology
  • Health-care system and pharmaceutical policy
  • Evidence-based practice

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.

Curriculum Graphics 2015-06-16.graffle
Click for an overview of the PY1 curriculum.

Foundations of Patient Care

An eighth course prepares you for early patient care in a real-world setting by giving you the foundational knowledge and skills needed and emphasizing connections among content areas.

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.

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. We are moving some classroom instruction out into the real world. You will also 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.
Students begin working with patients immediately after their first year. Students have three such experiences over a total of six months during the second and third years of the curriculum.
When you learn something new, we want you to be as close to the application of that knowledge as possible.

Students begin working with patients immediately after their first year.
Students begin working with patients immediately after their first year. Students have three such experiences over a total of six months during the second and third years of the curriculum.

Early Patient Care

You will be immersed in patient care early and often starting immediately after your first year. Throughout the second and third years, you will have 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.

Seeking Solutions

Beginning in the third semester, you will also 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

Setting aside time to talk about what you’ve seen, done, and learned with professors and preceptors is a crucial step in the learning process.

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.

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

Clinical Practice

Patient care comprises the entirety of the fourth year and allows you to refine your approach to pharmacy practice and to define your career path.
Patient care comprises the entirety of the fourth year and allows you to refine your approach to pharmacy practice and to define your career path.

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.

Our Perspective

A Renaissance in Pharmacy Education at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
North Carolina Medical Journal, January/February 2014

Our Results

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

Informing the Future: Critical Issues in Health Care
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