A Grand Opening

Gov. Jay Nixon with students and faculty of UMKC School of Pharmacy at MSU.

Celebrating the UMKC School of Pharmacy at MSU

Students, state officials and university administrators and faculty celebrated the grand opening of one of the newest additions to the University of Missouri-Kansas City — three hours south in Springfield.

The UMKC School of Pharmacy at Missouri State University opened this semester in a transformed historic Brick City building. This is the third site for the school’s PharmD program, the practice-level degree for pharmacists. UMKC School of Pharmacy Dean Russell Melchert said the expansion is a targeted effort to address a shortage of healthcare providers, including pharmacists, in rural Missouri.

“There is nothing more mission-oriented we can do than what we are doing today — providing something of lasting and indispensable value to the people of Missouri,” said UMKC Chancellor Leo E. Morton. “And none of us could have accomplished this alone. We joined with the people and agencies who found the will and the way to make it happen: Governor Nixon and his staff, the Missouri Legislature, Missouri State University, the University of Missouri System and our alumni.”

Currently UMKC’s School of Pharmacy admits about 125 students a year, out of 600 applicants.

The program at Missouri State will expand the incoming class by about 25 percent.

The new site allows students to register in the UMKC School of Pharmacy program but complete coursework on the Missouri State campus. This university partnership allows students to take the same courses and earn the same UMKC degree as their counterparts in Kansas City and Columbia at the University of Missouri.

“By working together to meet a need and accomplish something neither could achieve on their own, these two institutions demonstrated the creative can-do spirit that has helped make Missouri a leader in higher education innovation and affordability,” said Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon.

Melchert said that UMKC graduate placement data suggests regional academic programs are an effective way to attract and retain healthcare workers in rural Missouri.

The UMKC School of Pharmacy at MSU involved a $3 million investment to remodel a building in downtown Springfield.

Pharmacists often top the career charts in desirable professions. There’s an estimated national shortage of 157,000 pharmacists by the year 2020. Employment opportunities for pharmacists are expected to increase 14 percent by 2022.

“The graduates of this program will not just have great careers that help stimulate the economy, they will improve the quality of life throughout southern and southwest Missouri,” said University of Missouri System President Tim Wolfe. “That is our mission, and we are proud to work with President Clif Smart and his MSU team to accomplish it.”

The Springfield site is being modeled after the UMKC School of Pharmacy at the University of Missouri in Columbia, which opened in 2005. A majority of the graduates from the Columbia site took positions in nonmetropolitan and rural areas of Missouri.

Springfield-based Pharmacy student Robert Hopkins said the new site is life-changing.

“Without this partnership, I would not have been able to go back to school to become a pharmacist,” said Hopkins, a Springfield homeowner with a newborn child. “I love that I can stay in my home town and serve my community.”

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