USF College of Pharmacy on track to draw top talent to Tampa Bay region

The University of South Florida’s College of Pharmacy (USFCOP) takes a healthy step forward by earning full academic accreditation.
The University of South Florida’s College of Pharmacy has earned its first full certification from the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education.

For USF and for Tampa, accreditation means attracting top talent in healthcare to the local region. The spotlight on the school comes at a time when the USF Health program is growing its reputation as a player in helping to shape Florida’s economic future. 

For starters, Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik plans for a $1 billion investment in downtown Tampa include a new home for USF Health, which is expected to help to attract a young, educated crowd to the growing downtown apartment and retail scene.

The Florida Legislature and Gov. Rick Scott endorsed Vinik’s plans by setting aside state funding to build a future USF Health Morsani College of Medicine and Heart Institute in downtown.

Then, the USF Undergraduate Public Health program ranked first among veterans. And now, accreditation means USF College of Pharmacy is set up to become more competitive on a national playing field. 

“Accreditation is very important for recruitment purposes,” explains Dr. Kevin Sneed, Senior Associate VP for USF Health. “It signifies to student recruits that the program has achieved all requirements nationally for curricular and programmatic rigor.”

For newly graduated and future students, accreditation means the opportunity to become fully licensed pharmacist clinicians. Only students who have graduated from accredited schools are allowed to take state board exams and become qualified for federal pharmacy residency programs.

To receive accreditation, the ACPE measured the school for 30 standards, from planning and evaluation to curriculum and student support. Full accreditation for a new program lasts two years, so USFCOP will undergo another focused on-site evaluation in summer 2017. 

Sneed, the founding dean of the USF College of Pharmacy, received a dual B.S. in Biology and Microbiology from the University of Central Florida in 1992 and a Doctor of Pharmacy from the Xavier University of Louisiana College of Pharmacy in 1998. His focus on the advanced pharmacological treatment of patients with cardio-metabolic disorders and health care disparities led him to USF, where he is a co-director of the Community Outreach and Engagement Core (CEOC) in the Center for Equal Health and a tenured Professor in the USF Department of Family Medicine.

The USF College of Pharmacy has “become a much sought-after program, a destination for an amazing pharmacy program,” Sneed says. “Such resounding approval confirms what we’ve all known about the program we are building and is the culmination of a lot of hard work.”

Strategic focus on the future 

The USF College of Pharmacy was established in 2009 by the Florida Board of Governors. The program graduated its inaugural class of 53 students in May 2015. 

Accreditation was always part of the plan for Sneed, who has a clear vision for the college. In fact, focus on the future is one feature of USF’s pharmacy college that Sneed says distinguishes it from other schools. 

“Our focus on futuristic aspects of healthcare is a clear differentiator,” Sneed says. “USF Health offers an unmatched inter-professional healthcare training environment.”

Training students to practice in patient-centered teams is critical “as healthcare evolves into more team-based care,” Sneed says. “Having students work with students from all of the colleges in USF Health - medicine, nursing, public health and physical therapy - is one of the most unique environments in Florida, if not the southeast America.“

A focus on emerging areas in healthcare also makes the young college stand out among competitors, Sneed explains. USFCOP emphasizes areas of study such as translational pharmacogenomics, geriatric care, health informatics (analytics and big data) and leadership and management.

The USFCOP program covers both pharmacy curriculum and clinical experience.

Moving forward, the program will place additional emphasis on “Quantified Health,” which includes wearable devices and the collection of biometric data from patients using mobile devices.

The study and practice of complex-sounding topics such as translational pharmacogenomics place the healthcare school ahead of the curve, Sneed says.
“No other health profession is focused on this emerging science to achieve pharmaceutical-based precision and personalized medicine,” he explains. “These are very futuristic, emerging areas that I feel we must begin to train health professionals in prior to entering the workforce.”

In addition to accreditation accolades for the school as a whole, USF Health’s Pharmacy Plus program is drawing national attention. USF Health Pharmacy Plus is currently a national prototype that aims to bring pharmacists and individuals together in creating a customized health care plan through the use of both in-person communication and modern technology. Think health care tips through your mobile device, personalized medication, and easily accessible health stats.

“USF Health Pharmacy Plus is being recognized as a national model for a futuristic community pharmacy,” Sneed says.

Read more articles by Justine Benstead.

Justine Benstead is a feature writer for 83 Degrees Media in the Tampa Bay region of Florida.
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