U pharmacy college ranks high in nation

Pharmacists are in high demand in Minnesota, especially in rural areas.

Naomi Scott

The University’s College of Pharmacy ranked fourth in the nation in U.S. News & World Report’s list of top pharmacy programs.

Marilyn Speedie, dean of the college, said one reason the school ranked high is that faculty members and student leaders have been nationally recognized and awarded for their innovation.

“This college has a very strong emphasis on students, faculty and administration being active in the profession,” she said.

A top ranking is important, because it attracts top students and faculty members, Speedie said.

“The campus, on a whole, is dependent on its individual parts succeeding,” she said. “When we do well, the campus does well.”

Todd Sorensen, a professor in the College of Pharmacy, said the school’s high ranking shows the strength of a faculty that is strong across all disciplines in pharmacy.

Also, graduates of the college are in demand, which shows the strength of its curriculum, he said.

“In terms of graduate school, residencies and fellowships, our graduates are highly sought after,” Sorensen said.

Also, the practice of pharmacy is considered relatively progressive in Minnesota, because students get various experience outside the classroom with professionals in the community, he said.

Kristin Germscheid, a second-year pharmacy student and The Minnesota Pharmacy Student Alliance secretary, said approximately 80 percent of the college’s students are active in the student alliance.

The student group organizes many out-of-classroom learning experiences. The programs include medication-safety programs for elementary school children, informational sessions for high school students on sexually transmitted infections, and blood pressure and cholesterol screenings in the community.

“Our students take a lot of leadership roles in the college,” Germscheid said. “They take the initiative in a lot of patient-care programs and let the community know pharmacists do more than dispense medication.”

Speedie said pharmacists are in high demand in Minnesota, particularly in rural areas. This means people in those areas do not have much access to pharmacists and health care in general.

The shortage of pharmacists in the state was why the college expanded to the University’s Duluth campus in 2003, Speedie said.

The expansion allowed for approximately 50 additional seats per class. The University’s Twin Cities campus has approximately 160 students in each of its classes.

U.S. News & World Report has not released the ranking of pharmacy programs since 1997, when the University ranked fifth out of approximately 80 schools, Speedie said.