By Nell Gluckman
The Husson University School of Pharmacy is in its fifth year of operation and is still working to meet the national standards necessary for the school to become fully accredited.
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 will be reviewed again by the Accreditation Council of Pharmacy Education this spring, and a decision will be made in the summer, university officials said.
Neither the Accreditation Council of Pharmacy Education nor Husson University would share the reports that explain where the school fell short because they don’t want aspects of the reports to be used to compare institutions, according to Husson University officials.
“They don’t want that kind of environment because they think that doesn’t facilitate good professional discourse across institutions,” Husson University president Robert Clark said Thursday, referring to the Accreditation Council of Pharmacy Education.
Husson’s pharmacy school has 232 students currently enrolled. Both the Husson University School of Pharmacy and the University of New England’s College of Pharmacy opened in 2008, making them the first pharmacy schools in the state of Maine. University of New England’s pharmacy school received full accreditation last spring.
Pharmacy schools typically get five years to meet all standards outlined by the Accreditation Council of Pharmacy Education, according to Cynthia Avery, an administrative manager at the accrediting agency. If Husson is not accredited this spring, it must start the process over.
Husson’s first pharmacy school graduates, who received their diplomas last spring, were fully eligible to take the license exam because the school has a preliminary type of accreditation called candidate status. Forty-four of the 47 graduates passed the exam the first time they took it and became fully licensed pharmacists, and all but one have passed the exam since, according to the school’s dean, Rodney Larson.
Avery 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. There were 129 pharmacy schools that had full or candidate status in 2013, according to the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy website.
Clark and Larson said the school has made several changes to ensure all the standards are met this spring.
A team of faculty members and volunteers who have an “expertise in higher education” has been established to advise the professionals in hospitals, clinics and pharmacies who host Husson students while they are gaining work experience, according to Larson.
A new director of assessment is working with faculty on designing ways of evaluating students’ progress.
Two new sites — one at the Maine Medical Center and another at the Togus Veterans Affairs Medical Center — were established for students to do six-week rotations to gain practical experience.
Larson added that the names of certain courses have been 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.
“I’m very excited for the team to come so I can showcase what I’ve done,” said Larson, referring to the peer reviewers who will visit the campus in April. Clark also said he felt confident that the pharmacy school would achieve full accreditation status after the April review.