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Sunday, October 01, 2023
School of Pharmacy

UW-Madison Doctor of Pharmacy admission program aims to address pharmacist shortage

The program, which launched Aug. 29, allows first-year UW students and eligible high schoolers to apply for guaranteed admission to the four-year program at Madison.

The University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Pharmacy launched a program last month that guarantees admission to UW-Madison’s Doctoral Pharmacy Program for future students who meet certain conditions.

The school’s new Early Assurance Program allows first-year students and high school students accepted or enrolled at four-year UW System campuses to apply for guaranteed admission to the UW-Madison Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) program after meeting certain conditions.

Pharmacist shortages and burnouts have led to closures and long hours at many Wisconsin pharmacies — particularly in rural areas — which are desperate for additional staff. The PharmD program aims to combat that shortage.

“[The program] gives the students an opportunity to have their spots saved here at the School of Pharmacy and be a part of this pharmacy community,” said Jeremy Altschafl, assistant dean of PharmD admissions.

The Early Assurance Program is a pathway designed for students interested in pharmacy to finish the prerequisite coursework at any UW System campus offering a bachelor’s degree with a guaranteed spot at the UW-Madison School of Pharmacy. Students must maintain program requirements including a demonstrated goal of becoming a pharmacist and an undergraduate grade point average of 3.2 or above to maintain eligibility.

Altschafl emphasized that the flexibility of campus choice allows students to complete pre-pharmacy coursework or eventually practice pharmacy closer to their current homes and communities.

“[The program] gives them confidence they can still be part of their community, even if they do come to UW-Madison, because they can go back home,” Altschafl told The Daily Cardinal.

The PharmD program is a four-year pharmacy professional program and the only publicly funded doctoral pharmacy program in Wisconsin. The doctoral program includes “three years of didactic coursework” but largely has students working in the field during their fourth year, according to Emily Phillips, a second-year PharmD student. 

“You are [a student pharmacist] in the community learning from a practicing pharmacist,” Phillips said.

There are many tracks to pursuing a Doctor of Pharmacy degree. And while the Early Assurance Program only takes applicants from senior year of high school to first semester freshmen, it’s not the only way to be a PharmD student at UW-Madison.

Altchafl said there are still opportunities for those who discover they want to pursue pharmacy later on. 

“This is not the only pathway to our pharmacy program. We have a traditional admissions process as well,” he said. 

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Phillips spoke highly of the school — which houses one of the top pharmacy programs nationwide — as well as the professional and educational opportunities it offers. 

“I really love being at the pharmacy school. The faculty is so amazing at UW, and the integration of the pharmacy within the health systems in Madison is just amazing,” she said. “We have the opportunity to learn from practicing pharmacists. And the curriculum is one of the best in the nation. So I'm really enjoying my time.”

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