In the year 2007, the University of South Florida accepted the opportunity to champion, coordinate, and implement the creation of the USF Doctor of Pharmacy program. There was a sense of urgency, excitement, and opportunity at that time that has carried forward to help us build what we believe will be an outstanding pharmacy school.
USF Health is a young, but mature health sciences complex. The USF College of Medicine and the USF College of Nursing were established in 1965. The USF College of Public Health and the USF School of Physical Therapy followed, comprising the USF Health Sciences Center. USF Health Sciences Center is now known as USF Health. USF Health is fast becoming a national leader in the health sciences. The USF Physicians Group, our healthcare multispecialty group practice, includes over 350 physicians and over seventy nurse practitioners that provide healthcare to patients throughout the Tampa Bay Area.
All of the colleges and schools that encompass USF Health currently enjoy a uncommon interprofessional collaboration. The faculty among USF Health colleges recognized that pharmacy, as a health discipline was a missing component of the academic and clinical profile at USF Health. Despite a formal program in place, interprofessional interactions involving the pharmacy discipline already occur regularly between all of the academic programs. With this recognition, there is enormous support for the addition of a pharmacy program to foster meaningful interaction between students, faculty, and researchers.
The population demographics of Florida indicate that by the year 2015, there will be in excess of 21 million people, making us the third-largest state in the country. This represents an increase of over 2 million people residing in the state of Florida. The state of Florida has the highest percentage of its population above the age of 65 of any state in the country; the percentage exceeds 17% of the population, and is expected to continue to grow significantly by the years 2015 and 2030. As the baby boomer generation continues to age, there will be significant pressure placed upon the healthcare system to provide pharmaceutical agents to treat various chronic conditions.
This marked increase in the amount of medications taken by the elderly over the next several decades will require a higher, more sophisticated level of medication management than our current health care system is delivering. There will be a need to develop pharmacy services that place pharmacists as an essential and respected health provider alongside all of the health professions, with special emphasis on geriatric populations. The USF Taneja College of Pharmacy will take special measures to address the needs of our aging population, as well as focus on new and emerging technologies as we continue to advance well into the 21st century.
The administrative leadership of the University of South Florida and USF Health carefully analyzed the need for additional pharmacists in the state of Florida, and the need for an additional academic program at the health sciences center. The Florida Board of Governors requested a statewide workforce analysis be performed in the year 2008 using both independent and State agency workforce analyses. The independent analysis revealed not only pharmacist workforce shortages in the state of Florida, but looming increased demand in the future.
This increased pharmacist workforce demand in the future was substantiated by an analysis from the Agency for Workforce Innovation (AWI), a state of Florida agency. According to AWI, the annual growth rate of pharmacists statewide is 3.10 percent. By 2017, AWI projects that there will be 20,795 available jobs, which is an increase of 25% (or 4,128 positions.) AWI attributes the increased demand to the higher incidence of middle-aged and elderly individuals who use more prescription drugs; to scientific advances that will make more drug products available; and to the coverage of prescription drugs by a greater number of health insurance plans and Medicare.
The overwhelming charge from the administrative leadership of the University of South Florida was to create a program that targeted aspects of pharmacy education that may be created to promote the pharmacy profession of the future, while addressing the needs of citizens both regionally and statewide. By utilizing existing infrastructure available at USF Health, the endeavor of creating a pharmacy program has generated excitement and enormous opportunities to complete the health sciences profile of USF Health. The USF Taneja College of Pharmacy will exist in an environment that has a culture of interprofessionalism, and is determined to be a leader with regards to advancing healthcare into the 21st century.
Recognizing the rapidly evolving healthcare system, we have been afforded the unique opportunity to create a dynamic pharmacy program that will be adaptable moving forward. We will not graduate any students until the year 2015; changes in patient demographics and emerging advanced technologies will provide an opportunity to implement various aspects of healthcare into our core curriculum not commonly seen in pharmacy education in Florida.
USF Health is currently undergoing a very innovative and unique transformation with regards to interprofessional education. There is now a task force to assist the endeavor of creating a truly integrated interprofessional curriculum that will extend between all of the academic components of USF Health. Common global competencies are being developed, with the full intention that students from the various degree programs will be provided a special recognition to acknowledge their immersion into our interprofessional curriculum. While this interprofessional curriculum is being developed, we have chosen very strategic aspects of our curriculum to engage students from all of the other health professions academic schools.
Research has traditionally been recognized as a core component of doctoral programs within different disciplines throughout the country. In our pharmacy program, a research course and research related electives will be developed with the explicit intent of encouraging our students to participate in research endeavors upon graduation, regardless of their chosen pharmacy practice environment. We believe that by providing a sound foundational understanding of research methods, pharmacists who graduate from our program are more likely to engage in life-long learning activities, including professional and community development. Students and faculty will delve into clinical trial activities, as well as other aspects of clinical research.
Already, we are actively engaged with Tampa area pharmaceutical firms that are conducting various aspects of clinical research. Further, the University of South Florida has numerous clinical research and drug development groups, which actively seek the participation of professional and graduate students in the learning process. Students will develop a sincere appreciation for clinical research, and will utilize this information in all areas of pharmacy practice, even in those areas of pharmacy practice not commonly associated with clinical research.
Emphasis will be placed upon USF Taneja College of Pharmacy faculty to be actively involved in research endeavors throughout USF Health. The addition of pharmacy faculty to assist in research will allow increased opportunities for entrepreneurial types of research models currently not in existence. Academic entrepreneurial collaboration with the existing USF Centers of Excellence will be enhanced by the presence of the USF Doctor of Pharmacy degree program, potentially leading to the development of innovative medications.
The USF Health Taneja College of Pharmacy is well positioned to become a leader in pharmacy education nationally. Our mission, vision, and goals have been developed to meet the healthcare needs of patients from 2015 and beyond. The interprofessional education culture, research prowess, and existing clinical resources currently in place at USF Health provide a launching pad for our program. The USF Taneja College of Pharmacy will attain excellence in pharmacy education, and our resolve to meet the future challenges of healthcare is strong. Stay tuned as the USF Health Taneja College of Pharmacy works to transform the DNA of healthcare!