Pharmacy students can add MBA
Published: Friday, August 24, 2012
Updated: Friday, August 24, 2012 06:08
In a multi-billion dollar industry that operates at the crossroads of science and business, West Virginia University School of Pharmacy students will now have the opportunity to prepare themselves for success in the best of both worlds of the pharmaceutical sector.
Last week, the WVU School of Pharmacy and College of Business and Economics forged an agreement to create a Doctor of Pharmacy and Master of Business Administration (Pharm. D./M.B.A.) dual-degree program – the first of its kind in West Virginia.
The dual-degree program will be open to students next year, and it is the 47th such program of this type; a little more than one-third of the approximately 130 schools of pharmacy in the nation offer such a program.
Jose Sartarelli, Milan Puskar Dean of the WVU College of Business and Economics, has extensive experience as a pharmaceutical executive, previously serving as the Pharmaceutical Group Chairman for Asia-Pacific, Japan and Latin America for Johnson & Johnson. He said pharmacy students of today will greatly benefit from the newly offered curriculum pairing.
"The WVU School of Pharmacy and the College of Business and Economics share the philosophy that student pharmacists will be much better-equipped to meet the demands of the industry today with the creation of the Pharm. D./M.B.A. degree," he said.
"There is a very real expectation that pharmacists have knowledge of business principle," he said. "This degree program will give participants a competitive edge as they graduate from a pharmacy school that has already established itself as one of the best in the country."
Patricia Chase, the Gates Wigner Dean of the WVU School of Pharmacy, has performed research on a variety of topics including innovative curriculum development. She also serves as a facilitator for the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy Institute for Pedagogical and Curricular Change.
"Providing our student pharmacists with this new degree offering will open the door to career opportunities where financial planning and business acumen are qualities that are needed in certain health care and pharmaceutical industry positions," she said.
Students who wish to enroll in the program can do so in the spring semester of their first year of study in the Pharm. D. Professional Program. After gaining acceptance, students can begin taking M.B.A. courses the following year.
"Student pharmacists will complete requirements for the M.B.A. degree program during the course of their four years of study in the Pharm. D. professional program," Chase said. "This collaboration shows the potential that can be achieved when two top-notch programs work together. We are proud to be able offer these programs to our students."
Current CVS employee Shane Beam, a 2012 graduate of the School of Pharmacy who simultaneously obtained an M.B.A., expressed how valuable having a business background was for him upon entering the job market.
"The degree itself is beneficial; I feel like that was one reason I was able to get a job faster than some other people – just because I had that degree," he said. "CVS and Rite-Aid in (my) interviews mentioned that they have no problem with schools’ pharmacy knowledge of the students, but they feel like the business side is a little lacking or could be improved."
Beam, who got approval from both Colleges to pursue the curriculum surrounding both degrees, said he figures students who enter the new program will have the added benefit of a solid structure.
"I did (about) the exact same thing (as the new program) except they just didn’t have it yet," he said. "I think the skill set is very good; the way they have the program set is going to work well.
"I had 25 hours a couple of semesters; it was very time consuming, but I feel like it helped me understand the business side a lot more than somebody that may not have had the classes."
On top of the managerial skills, Beam learned a lot of basic financial tips that the typical pharmacy curriculum does not cover.
"One of my favorite classes from my last semester was personal finance; it’s not necessarily all about investing but having good insurance coverage, a will – a lot of things that I never would have thought about," he said.
For Beam, the benefits surrounding pursuing both degrees was a no-brainer.
"In the end, I feel like it definitely gave me more looks for job prospects than other people that didn’t have that," he said.
"It always looks good if you’re equal in everything else and have another degree; employers will notice that."
The Pharm. D./M.B.A. degree is the College of Business and Economics’ fourth dual-degree program on campus.
It has also partnered with the College of Law, the School of Medicine and the College of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences.
The West Virginia School of Pharmacy was named No. 26 in the Beast Health Schools – Pharmacy ranking from the U.S. News & World Report’s 2013 edition of "America’s Best Graduate Schools."