First students enrol in PharmD program

This January marks the first round of students entering the new PharmD program. The PharmD, which replaces the previous bachelor of science, now makes UW the first Canadian university to offer the PharmD as a co-op program.

The new PharmD program offers a curricular change to the previous bachelor of science in pharmacy program and is part of the increasing trend to transition from a bachelor of science as the entry-to-practice degree to a doctorate.

“Essentially, we’re phasing out the bachelor of science degree in pharmacy and transitioning to the PharmD. That is true, both here and at the University of Toronto,” said Prof. David Edwards, Hallman director, School of Pharmacy.

The PharmD features an overhaul of the old bachelor, focusing on the evolving needs of pharmacists in an aging world.

“The primary difference is in enhanced clinical training for our students… The scope of practice for pharmacy is changing, is evolving, is becoming much more patient-oriented. Pharmacists are engaging in a lot more professional services revolving around optimizing the use of medications in patients… We primarily train our students to be the medication therapy experts.”

Aside from enhanced clinical training, the PharmD program at Waterloo lasts four years consisting of eight academic terms, and three co-op terms. Co-op positions are offered in community pharmacies, hospital pharmacies, family health teams, long-term care, the pharmaceutical industry, professional organizations, and government.

The first bachelor of science in pharmacy students began their studies in 2008 and graduated in 2011. The current class of PharmD students began their studies as of Jan. 2014 and will graduate in 2017. Students enrolled in the bachelor of science in pharmacy program will have the option to transition to the PharmD program.

Graduates of the bachelor of science in pharmacy at UW may also want to head back to school. “We’re hoping to offer a bridging PharmD program for those classes from the University of Waterloo that graduated with a bachelor of science in pharmacy degree. That program is still under development and discussion,” Edwards said.

For students interested in pharmacy, Edwards had encouraging words: “I think we all recognize that the population is aging and an aging population has unfortunately a number of chronic diseases that are often managed effectively by medication… So the pharmacist’s role in optimizing the use of medication to make sure it’s working as well as it can work with a minimum of side effects is an important one. Helping patients is always rewarding and it’s something that I think anybody would find that an attractive profession.”


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