Growth in UF's online programs a good sign for pharmaceutical industry
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Rapid growth in enrollment in the University of Florida’s online pharmacy programs bodes well for the growth of Florida’s pharmaceutical industry, says a University of Florida professor.
The UF College of Pharmacy offered its first online master’s degree program two years ago, and interest has been so high the college has followed up with three other degree programs, offering six possible concentrations. About 80 students are expected to be admitted this fall, four times the number enrolled a year ago, said pharmacy professor and online program coordinator David Brushwood.
Not only that, but the university also has recently announced a partnership with Stetson University in DeLand, Fla., that will allow online students to get a master’s degree in pharmacy from UF and a master’s of business administration from Stetson in significantly less time than would be required to pursue each degree separately.
“If we can be successful at transferring knowledge from our academic institutions to the high achievers in the business world, Florida can become a third focus of national leadership (after California and the Northeast) in the biomedical and pharmaceutical industries,” Brushwood said.
The goal of the online programs is to provide an opportunity for working professionals to further their education without having to quit their jobs or relocate to Gainesville.
One such individual is recent graduate Scott Mazza, who now works as a clinical adviser for CVS Caremark’s mail service division. He applied for the promotion while completing his master’s in pharmacy regulation and policy, and he said his new degree had a lot to do with his being chosen for the job.
“This master’s was such a unique degree that it gave me an edge,” Mazza said. “I was able to immediately relate the material I learned in school to a number of real-life situations.”
The programs focus on nonclinical issues important to the pharmaceutical industry, such as drug regulation, risk management, economics and ethics. Such considerations are vital to the success of any pharmaceutical company, but the average employee has no background in these areas, Brushwood said.
While some students have a background in pharmacy, others are people working in the biomedical industry who got their education in other areas, such as business or law. These professionals may not have planned to pursue pharmacy, Brushwood said, but now that they are in the industry, they need more specialized education.
“We’re teaching people to do the things they are in fact doing,” Brushwood said. “We teach them what they want, rather than what we think they should want.”
Four full-time UF professors are involved with the online programs, but the majority of the teaching is done by about 12 experts from around the country who are active professionals in the areas they teach. “The individuals who taught the classes were leaders in their field,” Mazza said.
Because both student and teacher are currently practicing the issues at hand, Brushwood said discussions are both lively and heated.
“This is very different from a normal classroom,” he said. “It keeps us on our toes.”
- Jay Goodwin
- David Brushwood, email@example.com, 352-273-6255