There are two key course series at the heart of the University of Maryland Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) curriculum.
- Applied Science and Therapeutics (AST): These courses introduce and reinforce the integration of the basic and clinical sciences in making therapeutic decisions to approach patient care. Students explore population-based health considerations for disease states including health promotion, disease prevention and public health. Knowledge and skills developed in this course series are further emphasized in the third year pharmacotherapy courses when students will be expected to identify discriminating data and analyze patient-specific information at an advanced level, make independent therapeutic decisions, and recommend drug therapy monitoring and patient evaluation.
- Abilities Labs: This is a series of six courses that occur each semester during the first three years of the curriculum. The purpose of the abilities labs is to develop student pharmacists’ knowledge, skills, abilities, and attitudes that are essential to function as an independent pharmacy practitioner in a variety of health care environments. Students progress through self-paced learning activities, lab activities, discussions, and reflection. Students observe, practice, demonstrate, and are assessed on a variety of abilities needed for contemporary pharmacy practice.
The first year of pharmacy school consists of intensive coursework in biomedical science, pharmaceutical and medicinal chemistry, principles of drug action, and immunology, as well as literature analysis, professionalism, ethics, and general patient management. After mastery of basic concepts, students apply concepts of pathophysiology and pharmacology to single disease state pharmacotherapy. Student pharmacists also participate in weekly clinical skills training and a one-week community or institutional experiential rotation at the end of the semester. There are no educational requirements during the summer following the first year.
The second rigorous year of the doctor of pharmacy education continues with therapeutic decision making in each major system/disease state, as well as infectious disease therapeutics, pharmacokinetics, health policy, and weekly clinical skills training. Students select two introductory pharmacy practice experiences on quality and safety in community pharmacy (four weeks) and health system pharmacy (three weeks) practice settings, to be completed during the summer following the second year.
The third year challenges students with concepts of pharmacotherapy of multiple disease states. Pharmacy practice management and leadership, pharmaceutics, pharmacoepidemiology and pharmacoeconomics, public health pharmacy, and pharmacy law are also emphasized, and weekly clinical skills training continues. Student pharmacists explore personal areas of interest through a wide variety of electives, pathways, and dual degrees. Students begin advanced pharmacy practice experiential rotations during the summer following the third year.
Upon completion of didactic requirements, student pharmacists are off-campus during the entire fourth year for advanced pharmacy practice experiences including required community, institutional/health-system, acute care/general medicine, and ambulatory care rotations, as well as patient care and non-patient care elective experiences. Individual learning and mentoring takes place through interaction with and supervision by qualified preceptors. Each graduate will have successfully developed the competencies, professional judgment, and habits of lifelong learning of an independent pharmacy practitioner.
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