Husson University’s pharmacy school earns full accreditation

Husson University School of Pharmacy graduate Raphael Dikas  works behind the counter of the Bangor Target pharmacy in 2013. Husson's pharmacy school has received full accreditation.
Kevin Bennett | BDN
Husson University School of Pharmacy graduate Raphael Dikas works behind the counter of the Bangor Target pharmacy in 2013. Husson's pharmacy school has received full accreditation. Buy Photo
Posted July 07, 2014, at 4:31 p.m.
Last modified July 07, 2014, at 5:04 p.m.

BANGOR, MAINE – Husson University’s School of Pharmacy received full accreditation status from the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education, according to a prepared statement sent Monday.

“Earning ACPE accreditation represents the culmination of a rigorous peer review process,” said Husson University’s provost, Lynne Coy-Ogan. “In order to earn this mark of excellence, a new school needs to meet 30 rigorous standards.”

The school opened in 2008 to meet a demand for pharmacists, particularly in rural parts of the state, according to the school’s materials. The first class graduated in 2013.

Pharmacy schools must be accredited in order for their graduates to be eligible to take the North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination and become licensed pharmacists.

Husson’s pharmacy school was eligible for full accreditation in the spring of 2013, but it did not pass the review. The school had a preliminary type of accreditation called candidate status, which meant the school’s 2013 graduates were eligible to take the licensing exam. The school was reviewed again this spring, and now has full accreditation.

“The success of the first graduating class impressed the ACPE evaluation team,” School of Pharmacy Dean Rodney Larson said in the statement. “This class demonstrated that our program does an outstanding job of preparing students for rewarding and high-paying careers as professional pharmacists.”

Every member of the class passed the national boards and was employed as pharmacists within six months of graduation, the statement said.

It is not uncommon for schools to take five years to reach full accreditation, and no pharmacy school has ever not received accreditation in its fifth year, according to Cynthia Avery, an an administrative manager at the agency that accredits pharmacy schools.

Over the past year, Husson’s pharmacy school made some changes to its program. A team of faculty members and volunteers worked with the professionals in hospitals, clinics and pharmacies who host Husson students while they are gaining work experience, Larson said in February.

A new director of assessment worked with faculty on designing ways of evaluating students’ progress.

Two new sites — one at the Maine Medical Center and another at the Maine VA Medical Center — were established for students to do six-week rotations to gain practical experience.

The names of certain courses were changed to be more descriptive, and credits were added in some areas. For example, courses that used to be called Drug Action I and II are now called Pharmaceutics I: Drug Characteristics and Pharmaceutics II: Drug Delivery Systems, according to Larson.

The pharmacy school has roughly 240 students enrolled and 34 faculty and staff employed, according to the statement released Monday. The school’s 95 graduates earned a Doctor of Pharmacy degree, which is the degree necessary to become a licensed pharmacist.

Husson University’s school is one of only two pharmacy schools in Maine. The University of New England opened its pharmacy school in 2008 as well and received full accreditation last year.

The average age of pharmacists seems to be getting older in the United States, according to the Pharmacy Manpower Project. In 2009, 32.5 percent of pharmacists were over age 55, up from 16.7 percent in 2000. During the same time span, the portion of pharmacists age 40 and younger decreased from 44 percent to 24 percent, according to a report released by the nonprofit.

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