TTUHSC Pioneers New Pathway for Pharmacy Education

two pharmacy professionals, one in a white coat and one in scrubs, looking at a bag of fluid

The Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC) Jerry H. Hodge School of Pharmacy is positioning itself for the future with the announcement of its new Pioneer Pathway, an innovative educational pathway that will leverage hybrid learning strategies. 

In the landscape of pharmacy education, only 11 institutions in the nation offer distance pathways for online or hybrid learning. The School of Pharmacy will be the first in the state to allow students the flexibility to complete a majority of their Pharm.D. program from anywhere in the nation.

"Institutions adopting forward-thinking ways to train professionals beyond the classroom is becoming increasingly more common, even in the most distinguished fields,” shared Grace Kuo, Pharm.D., MPH, Ph.D., Dean of the School of Pharmacy. “We recognize that the landscape of education is evolving, and as a leader in pharmacy education, it is our duty to adapt in order to improve the services we offer.” 

The School of Pharmacy, a program consistently recognized for excellence in clinical education and science, is no stranger to non-traditional educational strategies. It has used a distributed campus model, which blends traditional in-person instruction with interactive video conferencing — allowing students to learn and interact with faculty and their peers across four campuses located in Abilene, Amarillo, Dallas, and Lubbock, for more than 20 years. 

“Our distributive campus model has provided our faculty with extensive experience in leveraging both in-person instruction and technology-based distance instruction,” said Rebecca Sleeper, Professor and Senior Associate Dean of Curriculum, Assessment, and Accreditation. “This well-developed foundational knowledge will serve us well as we build and apply new instructional techniques designed for distance learners, and maintain the robustness of curricular delivery for training areas that require in-person immersion.”

school of pharmacy student on a laptop

TTUHSC is one of 11 institutions in the nation to offer distance pathways for online or hybrid learning

The new Pioneer Pathway will live within the existing ACPE accredited Pharm.D. program and maintain the quality and rigor of the School's on-campus pathways, where students consistently perform well on licensure exams, achieve exceptional employment rates and secure impressive residency match rates.

A taskforce made up of faculty and staff members within the School focused the design of the pathway on three fundamental principles:

  • Fusion of expert faculty instruction with cutting-edge digital learning technology, design, and support. 
  • Continuous and valuable student engagement and support complemented by hands-on immersions.
  • Structured flexibility, providing students with the freedom to tailor their learning pace within predefined time constraints. 

“We are excited to add the new pathway because, in addition to driving innovation and enhancement of our existing pathways, it extends our reach to a broader audience, including those who may have previously had limited options for pharmacy education,” shared Krystal Haase, Pharm.D., SOP Amarillo Regional Dean and Chair of the Pioneer Pathway Taskforce.  “We pride ourselves on the high quality of our program and graduates and, for that reason, this pathway will maintain the same curriculum and learning outcomes as existing on-campus pathways.”

The didactic coursework for this pathway will be delivered through a combination of synchronous and asynchronous online formats, and students will have weekly face-to-face opportunities to engage with professors and classmates. Hands-on skills and professional experience will be gained over a minimum of 10 weeks of on-campus immersion experiences during the first two and a half years in the Pharm.D. program. Immersion experiences will occur on the Amarillo campus during the first and second years of the program. During the third year, Pioneer Pathway students will join their campus of preference, where they will take course work and complete eight of the twelve required rotations over their third and fourth years. 

Another unique aspect of this pathway will be its use of success coach strategies to help students find the best ways to achieve learning goals on a weekly basis.

The TTUHSC School of Pharmacy sees the ideal candidates for this pathway as self-motivated learners whose circumstances make them unable to physically relocate to one of the existing four campuses. 
“We have encountered great candidates who couldn’t relocate because of family obligations, or a spouse who was already in school in a city where we don’t have a campus,” said Molly Minze, Pharm.D., Associate Professor and Associate Dean of Student Affairs and Admissions. “We know those people are out there and it’s so unfortunate that they had to choose one or the other. Our goal with this pathway is to give those students the opportunity to attain a quality pharmacy education that doesn’t require them to abandon other important obligations.” 

Like the traditional Pharm.D. pathway, the affordable cost for students wanting to join the Pioneer Pathway will be competitive with other institutions in the market.

“When you consider that all of the existing programs offering these types of pathways are private institutions and TTUHSC’s proven ability to provide outstanding cost per value in terms of credit hours, we have a to opportunity to be extremely competitive in the national market,” said Haase.

Recruitment for the first cohort is underway for Fall 2024 and will be limited to 24 students to ensure optimal support of learners by existing faculty and team members. 

Those interested in learning more about the Pioneer Pathway can sign up for a virtual Pioneer Pathway 101 advising session or visit our webpage.

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