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
  • Immersion 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 Pharm.D. 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.
The Pharmacy Bridging Course 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 our unique Pharmacy Bridging Course that involves six modules in the first month:

  • Organic chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Physiology
  • Biostatistics
  • Evidence-Based Learning
  • Pharmacy Toolkit

During the Pharmacy Bridging Course, 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.

Next up are seven 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)

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.

Click for an overview of year one of the Pharm.D. curriculum.

Foundations of Patient Care

An eighth 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.

Hands-On Learning

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.

PHCY 500 – Pharmacy Bridging Course (3.0 hours)

This course comprises six modules in the core science and math subjects: organic chemistry, biochemistry, physiology, biostatistics, Evidence Based Learning and Pharmacy Toolkit. 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 (1.0 hour)

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 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 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 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 516 – Foundations of Patient Care (3.0 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.

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.

Students begin working with patients immediately after their first year.
Students begin working with patients immediately after their first year. Students have a total of six months of patient-care activities during the second and third years of the curriculum.

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.

School-Based Activities

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.

Click for an overview of year two of the Pharm.D. curriculum.

Seeking Solutions

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.

Click for an overview of year three of the Pharm.D. curriculum.

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

PHCY 591 – Immersion Experience 1 (8.0 credit hours)

Immersion Experience 1 provides an opportunity for student pharmacists to develop foundational knowledge and skills in health system or community pharmacy practice and to apply a consistent approach to patient care and the medication use process. Prerequisites: PHCY 506, PHCY 508, PHCY 513, and PHCY 516.

PHCY 601 – Patient Care Lab (1.5 credit hours)

Patient Care Lab builds on prerequisites to enable students to deliver patient-centered pharmaceutical care. Hands-on activities emphasize development of skills including evidence-based practice; drug information retrieval; patient education and counseling; and communication. Disease states and pharmacotherapy covered in concurrent courses will also be reinforced. Prerequisite: PHCY 516.

PHCY 609 – The US Healthcare System (2.0 credit hours)

The US Healthcare System provides historical background on our healthcare system, critically examines its current state, and compares it with others in the industrialized world. Legislative and regulatory elements driving healthcare evolution are mapped. Innovations and their implications for patients, providers, systems, and insurers are discussed. Prerequisite: PY2 standing.

PHCY 611 – Applied Clinical Pharmacology (3.0 credit hours)

Applied Clinical Pharmacology applies foundational elements of clinical pharmacology and problem-solving skills to individual patient and population-based clinical scenarios. Emphasis placed on dosing and monitoring pharmacotherapy regimens that maximize desired effects and minimize adverse effects to reinforce content covered in concurrent courses. Prerequisites: PHCY 510, PHCY 511, PHCY 512.

PHCY 617 – The Patient Care Experience (2.0 credit hours)

Students will appreciatively and critically analyze significant events encountered during their pharmacy practice experiences. Guided reflection and topic discussions will enhance student metacognition and the experience of patients. The process develops deeper learning by revealing new insights and perspectives as a professional practitioner, and informs clinical decision-making. Prerequisite: PY2 standing.

PHCY 621 – Pharmacy Innovation and Problem Solving (3.0 credit hours)

PIPS is designed to foster the habits of mind of scholarly and entrepreneurial practitioners. This course is designed for students to develop innovative problem-solving skills through case studies; and for student teams to apply innovative problem solving in proposing a solution to a real-world problem. Prerequisite: PHCY 520.

PHCY 630 – Foundations of Pharmacotherapy (4.0 credit hours)

Foundations of Pharmacotherapy transitions students from foundational coursework to the patient-care setting. By integrating knowledge gained from prerequisite courses with principles of pharmacotherapy, students will be able to formulate pharmacotherapy recommendations for patient scenarios. Organ systems covered: immune, cardiovascular, respiratory, gastrointestinal, neurologic, endocrine and infectious disease. Prerequisite: PY2 standing.

PHCY 631 – Integrative Pharmacotherapy I (5.0 credits)

Integrative Pharmacotherapy I builds off of Foundations of Pharmacotherapy in which students will engage in pharmacotherapeutic decision making that integrates advanced clinical pharmacology and pharmacokinetics. Prerequisite: PHCY 630.

PHCY 636 – Leadership and Professional Development I (1.0 credit)

Leadership and Professional Development focuses on leading self before leading others. This course will guide students through the development of a keen sense of self through self-awareness and self-reflection in order to begin developing the ‘leader within’ to lead with and through others. Prerequisite: PHCY 501.

PHCY 691 – Immersion Experience 2 (8.0 credits)

The Immersion Experience 2 is designed to allow student pharmacists to provide patient-centered collaborative care that will optimally prepare students for the Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experiences in the fourth professional year. Prerequisites: PHCY 504, PHCY 591, PHCY 601, PHCY 611 and PHCY 630.

PHCY 732 – Integrative Pharmacotherapy II (5.0 credits)

Integrative Pharmacotherapy II is the second in a series of three case-based courses. It builds upon the clinical decision-making process and knowledge base introduced in PHCY 631, further developing students’ capacity to research, analyze and solve complex, patient medication problems in holistic, evidence-based ways. Prerequisite: PHCY 630, PHCY 631

PHCY 737 – Leadership and Professional Development II (1.0 credit)

Leadership and Professional Development II focuses on leaving a leadership legacy. Collaboration, teamwork, and the ability to exercise professionalism in crucial conversations are key to achieving success as a leader. Students will develop their leadership identity within teams, while learning effective strategies to maximize team members’ strengths. Prerequisite: PHCY 636

PHCY 791 – Immersion Experience 3 (8.0 credits)

This course is designed to allow student pharmacists to provide patient-centered collaborative care that will optimally prepare students for the Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experiences in the fourth professional year. Prerequisite: PHCY 631, PHCY 691

Pharmacy Practice and Patient Care

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 variety of experiences to help you bring your intended career path into focus.

Under the guidance of a preceptor, you will find yourself serving as an integral member of many interdisciplinary teams, recommending strategies to optimize drug therapy to improve clinical outcomes and educating patients and their families about the optimal use of medications. In addition, you will gain a greater appreciation for the health-care ecosystem and the importance of building a well-coordinated and highly collaborative approach to improving health and health-care delivery. You will learn to master the use of a wide array of health information resources, to assume responsibility for medication optimization, to think critically and innovatively as you approach real-world problem solving and to uphold the highest standards of ethical decision-making and professionalism. You will likely have opportunities to work with and learn from pharmacy residents, as well as engage in the teaching and development of second- and third-year pharmacy students.

During this year, you are primarily engaged in pharmacy practice experiences beginning in the summer for a minimum duration of nine months. You will be assigned to a region of the state to complete the majority of your experiences. Pharmacy faculty based at these locations will personally guide and mentor you in your final year. You will practice in community pharmacies, health systems, outpatient primary care settings and within inpatient clinical and specialty teams applying your knowledge and skills to improve patient care and health-care delivery. In addition, opportunities exist for rotations in other areas, such as global engagement, the pharmaceutical industry, academia and government, with nearly one-third of your fourth-year experiences structured as elective opportunities to develop your interests and prepare you for your pharmacy career.


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