By Alana Hu
As of late June, Union University’s Doctor of Pharmacy program is now fully accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education and its board of directors.
The School of Pharmacy received accreditation by ACPE, the national agency for the accreditation of professional degree programs in pharmacy and providers of continuing pharmacy education, four years after the process began in 2008.
The inaugural class, made up of 41 students, graduated in May and was awarded the university’s first Doctor of Pharmacy degrees.
“The full accreditation status was achieved in June 2012 and done in the shortest amount of time possible,” said Dr.George DeMaagd, associate dean of academic administration and professor of pharmacy.
Obtaining accreditation for a new school of pharmacy consisted of three steps: Pre-candidate accreditation status, candidate accreditation status and full accreditation status. Each status is rewarded to the school at different levels during the process.
“The multiple-step process began in 2008 with the granting of pre-candidate accreditation status, which allowed a class to enter the program,” DeMaagd said. “The following year, ACPE came back and checked to see if we qualified for the next status, candidate accreditation, and since we were moving along and qualified, we were granted candidate accreditation status in the second year and continued this status in the third year.”
When we reached the fourth year and ready to graduate our first class, ACPE returned and we were granted full accreditation status after graduating our first class.”
Full accreditation status is not granted to pharmacy programs until after the first graduated class.
“Students who graduate from an accredited pharmacy program are given more opportunities,” DeMaagd said. “We currently have 10 post-graduate students in residency at hospitals that are undergoing another year of intensive training to learn more in hospitals while they round with physicians.”
This fall, the fifth group of 60 students were admitted into the program and participated in the symbolic White Coat Ceremony that represents their entrance into the health profession. The ceremony is symbolic of the students’ commitment to the profession of pharmacy and to professionalism.
“The whole idea with the white coat is that these students are entering into the profession and, from then on, must act and practice as professionals,” DeMaagd said. “Pharmacy is a profession wherein pharmacists provide patient care through medication therapy management working alongside physicians and other health care professionals to improve patient outcomes.”
For this academic year, DeMaagd hopes these students continue to excel not only in the classrooms but also in the community. Pharmacy students are certified to administer vaccinations and health screenings throughout the Jackson community.
With the full accreditation status achieved, the program, which only accepts 60 applicants each fall, is moving forward with plans to start a residency program within the next year. This program will also be accredited.