From The Dean

Over the past several years, the total number of applicants to pharmacy schools across the country has decreased. This is a trend we have been watching with increasing concern.

Fortunately, our college has continued to successfully fill our classes with very bright students. We are in an enviable position among our peer schools in that we have an outstanding reputation (we’re currently ranked #3 among all U.S. pharmacy schools). We have an innovative new curriculum, a renowned academic health center, and a reputation for being a leader in interprofessional education.

We also offer numerous global activities to enrich our students’ learning.

Another major draw is our students themselves — they have a history of receiving prestigious and competitive awards and playing prominent roles in national pharmacy student organizations.

For example, Lindsay Kubina, a third year student, won the national patient counseling contest at APhA last April; a Minnesota team came in second in the country in a business plan competition at the NCPA meeting this fall; and recently our student team won the national ACCP Clinical Pharmacy Challenge. We are all very proud of them!

Yet, we know inevitably we will be affected by the decreasing number of pharmacy school applicants nationwide.

In addition to the demographics of our target age group, there could be a number of reasons for this decrease: the economy, the slowing down of pharmacist hires (especially in chains), numerous new pharmacy schools that have created increased competition for applicants, the availability of other primary care profession options such as physician assistants, osteopathic medicine, etc.

Unfortunately, we have no control over most of these circumstances. What we do have some control over is increasing awareness of the pharmacy profession for those interested in health care careers.

Historically, I believe that the pharmacy profession has not done as good of a job selling itself and competing for potential students as other professions. Anecdotal evidence tells us that when most high school and undergraduate students think of “health care careers” they tend to think of careers in medicine and nursing. Most of these students don’t consider pharmacy as an option.That’s why our college has adapted a recruiting strategy to visit with high school and undergraduate students interested in science or health care careers and teach them about the many roles a pharmacist plays in today’s health care system. We believe face-to-face interactions are crucial for this effort. In our most recent survey of applicants and prospective students to our PharmD program, 44% indicated that a practicing pharmacist was the person who most influenced their decision to pursue pharmacy as a career.

Additionally, many of our students and faculty say they had a pharmacist mentor who inspired them to enter the profession. Knowing all this, I’d like to issue you a friendly challenge: in the near future, find at least one person who may be interested in a health care career and tell them about our wonderful profession of pharmacy.

Or, if you’re ready to make a bigger commitment, I invite you to sign up to be a Pharmacy Ambassador. As a Pharmacy Ambassador, you agree to either be willing to have pre-pharmacy students occasionally come job shadow you or participate in a recruiting event close to where you live or work (such as a school career fair).

If you would like to become a Pharmacy Ambassador or learn more about this program, please contact our student recruiter Sara Lofstrom at lofs0009@umn.edu. The demand for pharmacists remains high in Minnesota. Please help us in filling our classes in order to serve the needs of Minnesota communities.

Thank You, 

Marilyn K. Speedie, PhD

Dean