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Top Marks For Pharmacy School

August 26, 2012, 10:01 PM by Angela Kennecke

Top Marks For Pharmacy School

How many academic programs can boast a 100 percent job placement rate?  The college of pharmacy at South Dakota State University can.

Now with a new state-of-the-art building and high tech equipment, the pharmacy college in Brookings is on par with pharmacy schools at larger universities across the nation.

Scout Forbes has been on the job as a pharmacist for a year, but it took six grueling years to get here. 

"The preparation that I had, there are days I probably had the emotional breakdown and called my parents and said how am I going to do this, but you do," Forbes said.

Now Forbes is able to encourage current students, as they get practical experience, like Kory Hunter.

"It does take a lot to go through pharmacy school; especially in my case, I had a family going through pharmacy school.  It does take a lot but in the end it will be worth it," Hunter said.

Hunter has a year of school left.  He's been able to do most of his training in the new Avera Health and Science Center on campus. 

"I was in the class where we were in the barn for the first year and then we moved over and there's nothing like walking into that building and seeing something to be very proud of," Hunter said.

The new building has helped attract students and faculty with its research labs and it's an ideal training ground for a new breed of pharmacist. 

"The facilities here allow us to simulate things we haven't been able to do before.  We can get more team based learning and inter-professional learning," Pharmacy College Dean Dennis Hedge said.

"Both my grandparents were pharmacists. They owned the old drug store type format. It's what we talk about at the college of pharmacy; a lot has changed.  My grandfather would have never seen the things we do now," Hunter said.

"The classic image a lot of us have as a pharmacist, certainly I do when I went to a local drugstore as a kid downtown, the pharmacist was up on a platform, behind Plexiglas shield and basically that has really changed," Hedge said.

Besides new labs and equipment, the school will begin using iPads this year. 

"To get our students and graduates familiar with utilizing those technologies and how they can apply to the health care world I think is very important and were' going to dive into that very heavily in the upcoming year," Hedge said.

But the school boasts more than just new technology and a fancy building. It can also brag about its academic success. The school ranks third in the nation for pharmacy students passing their tests to get their licenses. 

"I think that has attracted attention. So when employers come and they recruit on campus they understand the graduates are going to be high performers, safe bets when it comes to passing the national licensure exam and be able to step right in. 

Nearly 300 students will apply for the 80 openings each year.  And the school is looking for more than just 'smart kids.'

"We also look for strong fundamental communication skills.  The ability to sit down in front of a patient and communicate basic information to keep patients adherent to drug regimens and free from harm from adverse drug events is really very important and I think that is the future of our profession," Hedge said.

Next week 80 new pharmacy students will fill up these classrooms for a long grueling four years ahead of them. But those who have already been through the program say in the end, it will be worth it. 

And there's a reason the job of a pharmacist constantly appears on top ten lists.

"You get paid $106,000 a year.  You have a great career, you have a great job, you have great hours," Forbes said.

And Forbes says you also have the satisfaction of helping others heal. 

"Not knowing what's going to come in, what challenges I'm going to be faced, but having the backing of college of pharmacy and the confidence they gave me I know I'll be able to handle the situation and at the end of the day going to bed at night, knowing I made a difference; can't beat that," Forbes said.

Tuition and fees at SDSU's pharmacy school will run a total of about $70,000 for in-state students.  But that's a bargain compared to other pharmacy colleges. 

It's also a six year program, compared with seven years at many other pharmacy schools.

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