Texas A&M pharmacy program expands to Bryan-College Station, improves access to health care across state

COLLEGE STATION, Texas — The Texas A&M Health Science Center Irma Lerma Rangel College of Pharmacy, based in Kingsville, Texas, welcomed the first cohort of students in the Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) program to the Bryan-College Station campus last week. Approved by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education in July, the expansion of a pharmacy branch campus in Bryan-College Station marks a significant milestone for the college, providing additional opportunities for student pharmacists in Texas and ultimately resulting in improved access to quality health care throughout the state.

Established in 2006, the college was created to address gaps in the health care workforce in the medically underserved South Texas region. A result of the demand for additional capacity each year, with 647 applicants vying for 87 spots in Kingsville in 2013 alone, the college moved forward with plans to open additional seats in Bryan-College Station. This year, 87 student pharmacists joined the Kingsville campus, and for the first time in the college’s history, an additional 33 students began coursework in Bryan-College Station. The college plans to add 30 to 35 students to the Bryan-College Station campus each year until reaching the full, four-year complement.

“Through unbridled commitment to exceptional pharmacy education, the college continues to produce compassionate, patient-centered pharmacists to serve South Texas, and one-third of our graduates stay in the region to practice,” said Indra K. Reddy, Ph.D., professor and founding dean of the Texas A&M Rangel College of Pharmacy. “While our mission to alleviate the shortage of pharmacists in South Texas will remain ever-important, the expansion of a branch campus in Bryan-College Station will allow us to extend our reach and answer the call for improved access to care across the entire state.”

As the role of pharmacists in delivering care significantly expands over the next decade, the need for highly qualified pharmacy professionals is clear. In fact, according to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, the growth of the Texas population, the significant increase in the number of medications prescribed and dispensed to patients in Texas, and the continued expansion of retail chain pharmacy outlets are factors that contribute significantly to the demand for pharmacists across the state. Nationwide, a shortfall of as many as 157,000 pharmacists is predicted by the year 2020.

The expansion of the pharmacy program to the health science center’s existing Bryan-College Station-based professional programs in medicine, nursing and public health, will also afford students the opportunity to learn in a team environment, resulting in improved delivery of care to patients.

John Acosta, who received his Bachelor of Science in molecular and experimental nutrition from Texas A&M University in 2009, will return to Aggieland as part of the inaugural Bryan-College Station class.

“The expansion to Bryan-College Station will make it easier for pharmacy students to collaborate with medical, nursing and public health students,” he said. “This will help improve patient care and promote greater integration for pharmacists as valuable members of the health care team.”

The Texas A&M Rangel College of Pharmacy is ranked one of the Top-50 programs in the nation, according to U.S. News & World Report. To-date, the college has graduated 395 pharmacists – 45 percent of which hail from South Texas.

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