ECSU receives $750,000 grant from GlaxoSmithKline Foundation

Kesha Williams
October 31, 2007

Elizabeth City State University received a $750,000 grant from the GlaxoSmithKline Foundation to enhance experiential training for students enrolled in the UNC-Chapel Hill/ECSU Doctor of Pharmacy Partnership Program. Experiential training is a central component of the UNC-Chapel Hill/ECSU Doctor of Pharmacy Partnership Program because it prepares pharmacy students to become comprehensive pharmacist professionals who are drug information experts. Graduates of the program are prepared to counsel patients, to work together with other health care professionals, to provide disease management and medication management services and to safely dispense medications. Professors at ECSU and the UNC School of Pharmacy collaborate with practicing pharmacists to train pharmacy students on the front lines of the healthcare system. Pharmacy students work in select hospitals, pharmacies, clinics, health departments, and a variety of other settings. Currently, northeastern North Carolina has an insufficient number of sites where pharmacy students can complete those advanced practice experiences. From the GlaxoSmithKline Foundation grant, up to $500,000, will be used to establish advanced practice experiences in northeastern North Carolina for fourth year students enrolled in the Doctor of Pharmacy Program. Up to $250,000 of the grant will establish and outfit a Drug Information Center at ECSU that will both benefit medical professionals as well as the general public in the communities that ECSU serves. Dr. Huyla Coker, Director of the UNC-Chapel Hill/ECSU Doctor of Pharmacy Partnership Program, said the grant funds will allow pharmacy students at ECSU to complete additional training in the region. Coker is a licensed pharmacist, a UNC School of Pharmacy alumnus and an assistant professor at ECSU. "The fourth year advanced practice experiences are crucial for students enrolled in the PharmD program. In these sites students develop skills to apply years of coursework to actual patients. This is where they transition from pharmacy students to mature pharmacy professionals and the next generation of pharmacists in your local pharmacy, hospital, etc.", Coker said. Launched in 2005, the UNC/ECSU Pharmacy Partnership Program was created by the UNC Board of Governor's (UNC BOG) to address the shortage of pharmacists that is a rapidly growing problem across the nation and in particular the state of North Carolina. It capitalizes on the UNC School of Pharmacy's reputation for graduating highly qualified pharmacists with ECSU's location in one of the more remote regions of the state. The program brings healthcare education to one of the most underserved regions in both the state and country. It is innovative and utilizes Interactive Video Conferencing (IVC) equipment to create real-time instructional experiences which are administered from each campus. The program is proving successful in-terms of student enrollment and achievement. This unique approach to pharmacy education is expected to impact the current pharmacist shortage and increase the pharmacist workforce in the state considerably as students begin graduating in spring 2009.