“This is a great testimony to the hard work and dedication of the School of Pharmacy’s dean, faculty, staff and students. Their passion for continued and unparalleled excellence in the Pharm.D. program have paid off handsomely,” said LAU President Joseph G. Jabbra of the news that the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE) had extended the university’s Doctor of Pharmacy program’s accreditation for another eight years.
The ACPE is the only agency in the U.S. that offers accreditation to Pharm.D. programs and LAU’s School of Pharmacy (SOP) first gained accreditation — which will be extended for another eight years this coming June — in 2002.
“The process was long and challenging. In addition to the comprehensive on-site review of the ACPE visiting team in the fall, we had for two years been preparing a self-study report,” explains Imad Btaiche, interim dean of the SOP. “ACPE standards are comprehensive. Each one addresses a part of the program and the school. Producing the report required a great deal of coordination and data collection, focusing on students, faculty, assessment, curriculum, practice experiences, facilities and finance,” he adds.
As a guarantor of quality, accreditation affords LAU’s graduates opportunities to work in the best hospitals in the U.S. “I have been working very hard to ensure my place in the Pharm.D. program,” says fourth year pharmacy student Vikan Aznavorian. While there are 75 students enrolled in each of the five years that make up the B.S. in Pharmacy curriculum, only 30 are accepted annually to the Pharm.D. program, which requires an additional sixth year of study.
Aznavorian is confident and determined, however. Spending half of his final year learning at a hospital in Texas is only a part of the appeal of the LAU program. “I intend to spend my residency in the States, so graduating from a U.S. accredited program with experience at a hospital in that country will give me a huge advantage.”
Pharm.D. student Alexandra Abi Saleh has just returned from Texas, where she and other sixth year students spent a semester completing core courses at the Houston Methodist Hospital. “Educationally it was great,” she enthuses. “I was exposed to a lot and we learned and had hands on experience in every aspect of clinical pharmacy, including in-patient and out-patient care and in the E.R.”
The affiliation with the Methodist Hospital is one of many factors that ensured continuation of the LAU program’s accreditation, says Btaiche. “It has been an asset of quality to our students. Pharmacy is a practice-based profession, so you have to provide them with good sites for their practice so they will be well-prepared.”
While very pleased with the renewed accreditation, Btaiche sees it as a springboard for further program development. “We now intend to focus on faculty research productivity, possibly expanding into graduate programs for pharmaceutical education,” he says. “We also hope to further develop the clinical practice model at our own university hospital, to enable greater cooperation alongside other medical professionals in the interest of patient care.”