Wayne Kradjan, Pharm.D., Dean, and Lee Strandberg, Ph.D.
Lee Strandberg, Ph.D., Professor of social and administrative sciences in the Department of Pharmacy Practice at Oregon State University (OSU) teaches OSU's required course in pharmacy management. The entrepreneurship focus in the curriculum is part of a required course in pharmacy management, PHAR 746, taken by all second year professional students. The business proposal component has been part of the management course for about 10 to 12 years and is an excellent learning experience for our students.
OSU Dean Wayne Kradjan said Lee Strandberg asked that the entrepreneurial component be included in the class. "The course instructor, Professor Strandberg, added this requirement to the course because he felt our students would benefit from the knowledge and skills provided by the assigned projects. He observed major changes taking place in the health care marketplace and decided our students needed to develop these skills to be more competive as practitioners and act as agents of change," said Dean Kradjan. "College administration and faculty have been extremely supportive of this activity from the beginning."
All students in the class are required to form business teams and identify a pharmacy product or service they can sell to a health care purchaser. These four to five student teams must produce a 20 to 30-page business proposal in addition to making a 15-minute presentation to the class using PowerPoint and handouts. The class' role is to play the purchaser and ask questions of team members.
Some students assume the role of pharmacy employees and write a proposal they can present to management, while others assume they own a business and develop something they can sell to an HMO or something to expand existing pharmacy sales. Either way, the students must incorporate the financial management and accounting material also covered in the course into their final proposal and they must show a profit projection based on expenses and projected sales.
Wayne Kradjan was the only dean to respond to our questionnaire. Dean Kradjan offered his perspective on the difficulties colleges face in deciding what material the students will be exposed to during their limited time in College. Dean Kradjan does not, for example, believe there is a bias against retail community pharmacy in academia. Although his reply on this issue is lengthy, it is instructive and insightful and is included in its entirety.
Said Dean Kradjan,
"Like many aspects of the curriculum, there have been changes in emphasis over time that later swing back into popularity. In the 1970's and 1980's, we saw the elimination of pharmacognosy and compounding from curriculums. Now with the advent of more herbal and natural products and niche compounding pharmacies, we are reintroducing some of this teaching, though with a different emphasis and nomenclature from the past.
Similarly, what used to be called pharmacy administration transformed into pharmacoepidemiology and pharmacoeconomics education in the late 80's and 90's. New faculty were hired with expertise in these new areas, while many of the more traditional pharmacy management faculty neared retirement age.
Today there is a resurgence of interest in management with the adoption of new names such as entrepreneurship. The challenge is to find Ph.D. trained faculty with a strong pharmacy background and also experience in the business and management aspects of practice. We need to be creative by utilizing the talents of those practitioners who have developed their management skills from on the job experience and in-house management training. On the other hand, practitioners are not always comfortable in the classroom or do not fully appreciate the complexities of assessing student competence.
The idea that pharmacy colleges and schools do not value or promote community practice is incorrect. The truth is that Colleges and Schools of pharmacy strive to provide a balanced look at all practice opportunities in both the classroom and in experiential practice clerkships. At OSU we are careful not to specifically promote any form of practice and at the same time make a point of not discouraging students from exploring any opportunity.
For example, in our curriculum all first year students gain classroom (simulation laboratory) experience in basic dispensing skills using a proprietary prescription processing software package, learn about common non-prescription and herbal drug therapies, and practice basic patient counseling techniques.
There is also a required course on pharmacy management that focuses almost entirely on community practice. Speakers representing independent pharmacy owners, chain managers, staff pharmacists, various institutional subspecialties, and non-traditional practices paraticpate in this and other courses as well as provide lunch seminars throughout the year.
Complementing this classroom learning are two introductory six-week practicums during the first two summers, one in community practice and the other in institutional practice.
The goal for these initial practicums is to develop competencies similar to a pharmacy technician or entry-level pharmacy intern in both settings. Similarly, approximately 25 percent of the required advanced practicum experiences are in community or other ambulatory care settings and another 25 percent in institutional patient care settings. The remaining 50 percent are elected by students based on their personal interests from a menu of sites that agree to serve as clerkship sites. Far fewer community sites offer their sites for training than hospitals and other specialized practice sites."
Dean Kradjan said while salaries are a driving force for some students, many put professional satisfaction and future growth as a first priority. "We have been fortunate to have several students buy their own pharmacy or enter into partnership with an existing owner in the last several years. We also have several recent graduates who have quickly assumed management positions with large chains," said Kradjan.
Continued the Dean, "We have independent pharmacists come to speak in several classes about their practice, including both the positive aspects and the realities. Likewise, we have practitioners from many other practice models also share their experiences."
Oregon State has no external funding at the moment, but "we are engaging consultants from all aspects of practice (chain store management, independent pharmacy owners, and institutional managers) to develop a curriculum that provides broad based training," said Dean Kradjan. "It is possible that some of these individuals or groups may decide to provide sponsorship or at least donate teaching to make the instruction relevant to real life practice."
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