First Class

Victoria Floyd, Dalton Putnam and Kendra White are 2018 graduates from the UMKC School of Pharmacy at Missouri State University in Springfield. | Photos by Brandon Parigo and article by Stacy Downs, Strategic Marketing and Communications

Inaugural cohort graduates from UMKC School of Pharmacy in Springfield

The first class of the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Pharmacy at Missouri State University in Springfield graduated May 11 at Swinney Recreation Center in Kansas City. The 31 students joined their peers from the UMKC School of Pharmacy’s other campuses in Columbia and Kansas City in receiving their Doctor of Pharmacy — Pharm.D. — the degree needed to become a professional pharmacist.


>Learn more about one of the students, who already has a pharmacist job waiting after graduation.



Why three UMKC School of Pharmacy campuses? With its unusual university partnerships, UMKC has hit upon a successful formula for increasing the number of health-care professionals in rural Missouri.

The Springfield campus opened in August 2014, joining a satellite campus at the University of Missouri in Columbia that opened in 2005 and set a precedent. A large number of the Columbia pharmacy graduates have taken their first jobs in and around central Missouri and surrounding rural areas.



Prior to the two satellite campuses, UMKC School of Pharmacy faculty couldn’t help but notice a pattern: after students graduated with their Pharm.D., they would establish roots in the Kansas City area, leaving other parts of Missouri underserved.


“The cohort graduating from our Springfield site demonstrates that two great university systems could work together to not only open access to pharmacy education for those in southern and southwest Missouri, but also to do so in the most affordable way for the state of Missouri.”

-Russell Melchert, dean for the UMKC School of Pharmacy


The three-campus model is more affordable than creating three separate schools because the campuses share administrative services and faculty based at one established school.

The 15,000-square-foot space in Springfield features three classrooms equipped with video-conferencing equipment that supports the synchronous transmission of classes among the Kansas City, Columbia and Springfield sites. It lets students interact with professors and other students during lectures, regardless of their location — like a fancy Skype as some students describe it.


“By establishing a deep connection between students and their community, this innovative collaboration hoped to provide the region a steady pipeline of pharmacists to a relatively rural region of our state that traditionally has had difficulty attracting enough professionals to meet its needs. Early returns suggest we are tremendously successful in that regard, as a vast majority of our inaugural class of students are entertaining position offers or have already accepted an offer for employment.”

-Paul Gubbins, associate dean for the UMKC School of Pharmacy at Missouri State University



One student who has a pharmacy career lined up following the May 11 graduation is Kendra White of Republic, Missouri. She has a job waiting for her as a pharmacist at HomeTown Pharmacy in Mount Vernon, Missouri, population of 4,525.

White couldn’t easily uproot her husband and their three young children to advance her career so the Springfield campus changed her life.

 >See her story.


“I’m beyond excited. This would not be possible if the UMKC School of Pharmacy hadn’t opened a campus in Springfield.”

-Kendra White, ’18, Pharm.D., UMKC School of Pharmacy at Missouri State University in Springfield

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