California Health Sciences University has suspended the launch of a more rigorous, three-year Doctor of Pharmacy program, officials announced March 7 after the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education recently said three of the 25 standards required still need to be met.
CHSU President Flo Dunn said that achieving the three remaining ACPE standards is readily attainable. However, other factors ultimately determined the decision to suspend. Most notably, the growing scarcity of pharmacy jobs and a continuing local and nationwide decline in pharmacy school applications.
“We take our responsibility to build sustainable programs where future graduates have ample job opportunities very seriously,” President Dunn said. “We still believe local students need more accessible pharmacy education, and at the right time we might restart the pharmacy accreditation process. But for now, our priority is supporting the success of current pharmacy and medical students.”
Nearly 250 students have graduated from CHSU’s current, 4-year Doctor of Pharmacy program. But that program will be discontinued after graduation of the 2024 class.
The decision to suspend pursuit of the replacement 3-year pharmacy program, which CHSU had hoped to begin the this fall, was made over in a series of meetings by CHSU’s trustees, founders, and top administration.
President Dunn said, “We are thoroughly committed to seeing our current pharmacy students become licensed and serve our region as professionals. We also plan to shift more focus into our medical program and begin exploring five other programs where the student demand and regional need are very high.”
Most pharmacy employees are being retained for the remainder of the program. Any pharmacy employee not staying until 2024, has the option to stay until the end of spring semester or a later designated date. We hope they consider applying for other open positions at the university, said President Dunn.
CHSU offers a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine program that has nearly 200 students in its first two cohorts. A third cohort of more than 150 is expected to enter this fall. And as early as 2023, President Dunn said, the university could begin the process of adding the next healthcare specialty colleges, including a Master of Science degree program.