Changes in the field of medicine, along with the combination of an aging population and broadening of insurance coverage making prescription drugs more affordable to more people, are contributing to an increased need for pharmacists as key players on health-care delivery teams.
With this in mind, The University of Texas System Board of Regents officially created the UT Tyler Ben and Maytee Fisch College of Pharmacy  in August and today granted approval to establish a Doctor of Pharmacy degree that will be submitted to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board for review and appropriate action.
“This will be our fifth professional college, and we are very excited,” UT Tyler President Rodney Mabry said. “UT Tyler has a special commitment to excellence. This fits our mission.”
Statewide pharmacy school admissions data indicate there are approximately 2,600 more applicants seeking a pharmacy program in Texas than available seats, leaving many students who are not accepted to a Texas pharmacy school studying out-of-state. The degree program will fulfill a need for pharmacy education in Texas.
According to the Texas Board of Pharmacy, 57.8 percent of pharmacists licensed in Texas in 2012 were imported from out-of state or out-of-country. If projections are accurate, the number of openings for pharmacist jobs in Texas per year will continue to outnumber the number of pharmacy graduates from Texas institutions by more than 100 jobs. Rural areas, in particular, face an increasing shortage of pharmacists. And, there is evidence to suggest that the projected statewide demand for pharmacists could be as much as 25 percent greater than reported.
“We are trying to make sure our students can get jobs and build careers,” said Mabry, addressing the Regents.
The UT Tyler Doctor of Pharmacy degree program will include didactic coursework in the classroom and an experiential component in actual pharmacy practice settings. The program is designed to prepare graduates to pass professional pharmacist licensure exams and become practicing pharmacists. UT Tyler plans to enroll 75 students in the first year and 100 students per year thereafter.
The Board’s approval supports recommendations by Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa, M.D., UT System Executive Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs Pedro Reyes and President Mabry.