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UMES graduates first class from pharmacy school

  • Friday, May 10, 2013

    PRINCESS ANNE, MD. - (May 10, 2013) - Three years of non-stop study and professional practice experience pay off for the charter class of UMES' School of Pharmacy May 17 when its members receive their well-earned degrees.

    UMES pharmacy students

    Pablo Song and Uche Etunnuh

    Fifty-seven graduate students are set to accept their field's top credential - a doctor of pharmacy degree - culminating a decade-long effort to expand the university's ability to educate health care professionals. 

    They'll be among a projected 400 degree candidates and guests who will gather at the William P. Hytche Athletic Center for spring commencement, where honors graduate and track star Andre A. Walsh will deliver the student commentary. The event begins at 10 a.m.,

    For UMES' first student-pharmacists, their journey began on a muggy Delmarva day in mid-August 2010.

    A week of intensive orientation, which foreshadowed a more-intense three years of lectures, labs and hands-on experiences in the field, ended with a brief ceremony with each receiving a white lab coat.

    Pharmacy school dean Nicholas Blanchard said at the time he hoped the symbolism would bond class members and the program to the university that was embarking down a new academic path.

    By most accounts, the foundation that Blanchard, his faculty and the class of 2013 have laid appears to be a solid one.

    The School of Pharmacy now has a full complement of students pursuing doctorates in a year-round curriculum that enables them to graduate in three years instead of the traditional four offered by most other universities.

    Blanchard estimates 80 percent of the class of 2013 have job offers. Eight students will go on to post-graduate residency assignments at such places as Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Spring, Cristus Santa Rosa Health in San Antonio and the State University of New York - Buffalo.

    UMES pharmacy students worked alongside practicing professionals at Nanticoke Memorial (Seaford) and Atlantic General (Berlin) hospitals as well as Peninsula Regional Medical Center (Salisbury). PRMC president Peggy Naleppa will be the featured speaker at a hooding ceremony and dinner for the student-pharmacists the evening before graduation.

    The university also has established relationships with CVS, Rite Aid and Walgreens, where students "have the opportunity to experience a corporate pharmacy practice," said Dr. Mark Freebery.

    Apple Discount Drugs, a locally owned pharmacy, also exposed students to the responsibilities associated with medication therapy management services, diabetes education, service to nursing homes, dispensing and compounding.

    Some students completed their advanced pharmacy practice requirement with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the National Institutes of Health and the Indian Health Services.

    "These elite and competitive rotations usually require the students to apply and be accepted," Freebery said.

    "Experiential learning" opportunities took UMES student-pharmacists to New York, Georgia, Texas, Minnesota and Alaska.

    But travel hasn't made them invisible in the community. The class of 2013 provided an estimated 5,000 hours of public service, including free diabetes screening, drug counseling and working on homes built by Habitat for Humanity.

    “The faculty and I will have indelible memories of this special group that can take pride it helped the university launch something we're confident will make a difference in people's lives,” Blanchard said.



    Bill Robinsondirector, UMES public relations, (410) 621-2355.