What Makes Us Different

A perspective on the PharmD Program from Adam Persky, Associate Dean of Professional Education

Story by Adam Persky | Published January 24, 2023

Adam Persky, PhD, studio headshot

In January 2022, I was appointed as the Associate Dean of Professional Education for the Eshelman School of Pharmacy. As a faculty member for the last 18 years, I have been heavily involved in the Doctor of Pharmacy program. When I started, we led the nation in training Doctor of Pharmacy students and our 5-semester, hands-on, small group pharmaceutical care laboratory was envied by many other programs. Subsequently, other schools of pharmacy began to replicate this course series. Additionally, we had a capstone Problems in Pharmacotherapy course (lovingly named “Problems”) that provided students with the clinical reasoning and critical analysis skills needed to be successful during their final year of rotations. Historically, we have always led the way in pharmacy education. Fast forward to 2022, we are continuing to lead the way. Our hands-on laboratory experience was migrated to real life hands-on patient care experiences where our students now have three times more introductory pharmacy practice experiences than accreditation standards. Our innovative “Problems” course was expanded to a three semester integrative pharmacotherapy series which includes the same rigorous clinical reasoning and problem-solving skillsets.

Just as health-care providers use evidence-based medicine to provide quality, patient centered care, the School uses evidence-based education to inform our curriculum. To date, we lead the world in pharmacy education research, and we apply that knowledge daily in both our didactic and experiential curricula. Our curriculum is strategically scaffolded to have increasing complexity with each subsequential year. As the students’ progress through the curriculum, support lessens, allowing our students to become increasingly more independent until the time of graduation. The classroom environment allows students to learn knowledge and skills which can subsequently be applied in the clinical setting. As students return from their clinical training, they can reflect on their experiences, learn additional and more detailed knowledge, and then return to the clinical environment to continue to apply this information to real patients. This cycle repeats until the final year of advanced pharmacy practice experiences. Our goal is to graduate pharmacy students with the equivalent training of a resident half-way through their first post-graduate year. With a strong combination of detailed knowledge, skills and attitudes, our students can pursue a wide variety of careers they have always dreamed of. At the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy, we get students ready– ready for advanced pharmacy practice experiences; ready for board exams, and ready to offer patient care. We are the best school of pharmacy not only because of our curriculum, but because we bring in the best students and have the most passionate, dedicated, and skilled faculty in the world.