A new University of Tennessee program aims to develop pharmacy students who are equipped to make decisions on key business issues facing the pharmacy today.

University of Tennessee, Doctor of Pharmacy, PharmD, Master of Business Administration, MBA, dual degree, pharmacy students, pharmacy, health care, UT Knoxville's College of Business Administration, UT Health Science Center, UTHSC, Amy Cathey, Peter Chyka, UTHSC College of Pharmacy, pharmacy school

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Program offers Rx students joint pharmacy, business degree

July 25th, 2011

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – A new University of Tennessee program aims to develop pharmacy students who are equipped to make decisions on key business issues facing the pharmacy today.

The program joins the UT Knoxville's College of Business Administration and the UT Health Science Center (UTHSC) to offer a dual degree leading to a Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) and a Master of Business Administration (MBA).

According to the university, the program meets the need for pharmacist executives with the basic business skills necessary to operate within today's health care and economic environments. The school noted how the question of cost is playing a bigger part nowadays in decision making on pharmacy and other health care services.

"As the health care field becomes more competitive, leaders in the field of pharmacy are challenged to make decisions that require an understanding of health care as well as business processes," stated Amy Cathey, executive director of the full-time MBA program. "For example, which of three drugs should a particular patient begin treatment with when the evidence shows all have similar effectiveness, but one is much less expensive based on the negotiated price with the source? Decisions have to be made every day that require balancing cost and customization, all with a focus toward the best possible patient care."

The five-year program consists of 172 hours of coursework in which the PharmD degree from UTHSC is awarded first and the MBA from UT Knoxville is awarded second. The efficient cross-acceptance of elective classes saves students one semester of coursework, the university noted.

The PharmD educational program includes a strong focus on the appropriate and evidence-based use of medications, medication therapy management, drug actions and properties, critical thinking and communication skills. The MBA program includes opportunities to work on applied projects that focus on innovation, business analytics, shopper marketing and supply chain management.

Career opportunities include management and leadership positions in retail pharmacies, institutional pharmacies, state and federal governments, the pharmaceutical industry and pharmaceutical consulting firms, according to the University of Tennessee.

"This program can develop the knowledge, skills, and attitudes of a well-educated and informed pharmacist who can provide the business leadership and insight to develop and measure the many aspects of health care as they relate to the safe and effective use of medications," commented Peter Chyka, professor and executive associate dean at UTHSC.

The university said the UTHSC College of Pharmacy is the first pharmacy school established in the state of Tennessee and has been ranked in the top 20 out of 125 pharmacy colleges in the nation by U.S. News & World Report for the past decade.