Students in the College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences have decided to speak out about the news of the program being placed on probation until June 30, 2008 by the Accreditation Council of Pharmacy Education.
“It’s been a wake-up call to the University for both SBI and the Pharmacy program,” said Frederick Brown, 22, a fourth-year pharmacy student and class president. “They are the heart and soul of the University.”
Brown said he was initially concerned about whether his degree would be in jeopardy, but was quickly relieved to find out that probation did not mean the pharmacy program had lost accreditation. He said the status could affect the University in another important area.
“The issues reflect poorly toward recruitment,” Brown said. “It shows that we’re not invincible and that we do have problems just like any other college at the school.”
One student said he might have to resort to a plan B in order to secure his future as a pharmacist.
“I will have to apply to another school as a backup, to save time just in case,” said Gerald Kilpatrick, 21, a third-year pharmacy student from Tampa. He said one of the main problems with the pharmacy program is that it does not have enough teachers to train the 1,036 students within the college.
He said he plans to apply to the University of South Florida or the University of Florida as a safety net.
“I’m trying to stay positive about the fact because we’re already stressed out enough as pharmacy students,” Kilpatrick said. “I’m going to just leave it in God’s hands.”
The University issued a press release Feb. 6 stating the pharmacy program had been reviewed and was found to be in compliance with only 11 of 30 standards set by the ACPE.
There are four listed concerns that will change the program’s probation status, said James L. Moran Jr., coordinator of advancement/alumni affairs in the College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.
He said the four major areas that need improvement are: curriculum evaluation, systemic planning and assessment, inadequate clinical experiences for students and the lack of financial resources.
“We have taken these concerns and started working on them since the Christmas holiday,” Moran said.
The interim dean and other administrators in the college will hold a follow-up forum to respond to any unanswered questions that students, staff and stakeholders may have concerning the program, Moran said.
“A document can be expected to be released within the next two weeks,” he said.
A date has not yet been set for the forum or the document’s release, but the dean’s office plans to provide a timeline for the necessary changes to take place, Moran said.Students are hoping for a speedy process and the placement of the college back into good standing.
Priscilla Wilson, 21, a pharmacy student, said, “I hope that whatever needs to get done gets taken care of immediately.” Wilson said she comes from a background of pharmacists.
The third-year student from Tampa explained that her sister and two of her aunts graduated from FAMU’s Pharmacy school. “To have the legacy of the school broken would be heart-breaking,” she said. “It’s a legacy in my family.”
The ACPE is set to return to the University in March 2008 to determine whether the outlined recommendations have been addressed and corrected.
“The college has been a very successful college since 1951, and we’ve never had concerns with this before,” Moran said. “We are very optimistic upon their return that the status will change.”In a press release issued Feb. 5, Interim President Castell V. Bryant said the search process for a permanent dean for the college of pharmacy has been placed on hold until the new University president arrives.
If the University does not correct the problems before the ACPE returns in 2008, the college of pharmacy could lose its accreditation.
Kevin Mitchell, 23, a fifth-year pharmacy student and president of ASP/SNPhA, showed his concern.
He said he hopes the new University president, James Ammons, will take immediate action.
“It doesn’t make sense to have people here with unaccredited degrees,” Mitchell said. “I don’t believe Ammons would stand for that.”
If the college of pharmacy loses its accreditation, Mitchell said upon graduation he would not be allowed to take the National Pharmacy Licensure Exam, a required test for pharmacy graduates.
He also said he would not have the opportunity to become licensed nor practice as a pharmaceutical scientist.
“It would be difficult to transfer this far along,” Mitchell said. “I have faith in the faculty here that they are putting the things in place to control the process from getting worse.”