José O Rivera, Pharm.D., founding dean of the new UTEP School of Pharmacy, hugs State Rep. Marisa Marquez during Convocation. Marquez was recognized for her role in securing funding for the school. Photo by J.R. Hernandez / UTEP News Service
The University of Texas System Board of Regents this morning approved the University of Texas at El Paso’s proposal to establish a School of Pharmacy and a new doctoral program in pharmacy.
“It was obvious to me that the Board of Regents recognized that this was a necessary school to be approved in our region,” said José O. Rivera, Pharm.D., founding dean of the school. “This is one more step to the realization of the UTEP School of Pharmacy.”
On Nov. 4, the UT System Academic Affairs Committee recommended approval of the school and the proposed Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) program.
Now that the Board of Regents approved the proposed Pharm.D. program, it must still go before the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.
UTEP’s proposed Pharm.D. program is designed to address the shortage of pharmacists in the Paso del Norte region and increase the number of Hispanics in the pharmacy profession.
While the Hispanic population of Texas is around 39 percent, less than 10 percent of the state’s pharmacists are Hispanic.
The program will prepare bilingual and culturally competent pharmacists with the skills to serve the pharmacy needs of communities in the bilingual, bicultural U.S.-Mexican border and South Texas regions.
In Texas, there are approximately 87 pharmacists per 100,000 people, which is below the national average. In El Paso, there are approximately 56 pharmacists per 100,000 people.
UTEP has been part of the six-year UTEP Cooperative Pharmacy Program (CPP) with the UT Austin College of Pharmacy since 1999. Students in the program began their first two years at UTEP, followed by two years at UT Austin and they finished the last two years at UTEP. Students who successfully completed the program received a doctorate in pharmacy.
The proposed four-year Pharm.D. program at UTEP will require graduates to complete 166 semester credit hours and 1,800 clock hours of practical experience. The new UTEP School of Pharmacy will also allow UTEP to increase the size of its pharmacy cohorts to 50 from 12. The first class is expected to start in fall 2017.
UTEP received $7 million during the 84th Texas legislative session to fund the new School of Pharmacy.