ANCHORAGE – When Idaho State University tapped assistant professor Tom Wadsworth to run its new pharmacy partnership at University of Alaska Anchorage, he was thrilled—even if it meant a 2,700-mile move from Idaho.
“It’s been wonderful,” he said during a phone interview from UAA as he waited for his Pocatello-based students to join him via a sophisticated video link. Thanks to distance-learning technology, Wadsworth is continuing to teach pharmacy classes in Pocatello and Meridian as he assumes his new role as ISU’s assistant dean of Alaska programs.
The partnership—a decade in the making— will enable UAA students to earn a four-year Doctor of Pharmacy degree without leaving Alaska. ISU will award the degree, and the Alaska students will pay out-of-state tuition to Idaho State.
UAA students will have on-site instructors and connect to Pocatello and Meridian lectures via distance learning and video conferencing.
“(Alaska) students must have the exact same experience as Pocatello and Meridian students” for accreditation purposes, Wadsworth explained.
The joint program hopes to enroll 10 to 15 students in the inaugural class which begins in fall 2016. Students will graduate in 2020.
“Our state has had a long-standing need for pharmacy education,” said Jan Harris, vice provost of UAA Health Programs. “UAA students leaving the state for pharmacy education may not return, and pharmacists from the lower 48 states often do not stay long term. This has been a particular burden to rural Alaska.”
UAA officials say they identified ISU as a good match because of ISU’s long history of pharmacy education, emphasis on rural health and experience in multi-site delivery.
Wadsworth is no stranger to Alaska. For four years, he worked as a clinical pharmacist in Fairbanks before returning to Idaho to practice pharmacy and teach at ISU-Meridian.
He says the partnership will help the College of Pharmacy expand its education base and deliver high-quality, advanced pharmacy education to an underserved region of the country.
“We are committed to meeting the needs of the profession,” he said.
For more information about the ISU-UAA joint pharmacy program, go to http://pharmacy.isu.edu/live/alaska/.