seal  Purdue News

October 28, 2003

Purdue pharmacy, Wishard Hospital join forces

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Purdue University has entered a relationship with Wishard Health Services that allows Wishard Memorial Hospital to expand clinical service to patients while helping the university more effectively teach pharmacy students.

The new program will allow Purdue students to work in large numbers within a single university teaching hospital for the first time, providing care to patients while working under pharmacists' supervision. Students will participate on interdisciplinary teams for the medical management of hospitalized patients and will participate in initiatives to educate patients, streamline therapy and enhance safety for ambulatory patients. In return, Wishard staff will help teach pharmacy students how best to interact with patients.

"This relationship will enhance Purdue's already highly ranked pharmacy program and increase the hospital's level of patient care," said Steven Abel, head of the department of pharmacy practice in Purdue's School of Pharmacy. "Purdue students will now graduate with more experience in patient interaction, which is a critical aspect of life as a pharmacist."

According to D. Craig Brater, dean of the medical school at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI), the relationship would benefit Wishard as well as Purdue.

"By taking advantage of health professionals at Purdue, Wishard can take advantage of their cutting-edge knowledge of care and best practices," Brater said. "As clinical care becomes increasingly complex, requiring a teamwork approach among physicians, pharmacists, nurses and other health care professionals, this program will assure that patients at Wishard have access to the best care possible."

While Purdue pharmacy students have always had clinical experience as part of their education, this has been challenging because the university does not have its own teaching hospital.

"We will now be able to educate more students in a teaching hospital environment, which is something we have not had conveniently available until now," Abel said. "Pharmacy is only going to become more patient-oriented in the decades ahead, and now Purdue and Wishard can provide the local clinical opportunities that will be necessary to develop pharmacy professionals."

Purdue's School of Pharmacy ranks second nationally among schools with a research emphasis, according to a 2002 study in the Annals of Pharmacotherapy. The school has 621 students enrolled in the pharmacy doctoral (Pharm. D.) program, as well as 613 undergraduates in the prepharmacy program. May 2002 Pharm. D. graduates had an average of five job offers apiece and an average starting salary of about $80,000.

"Pharm. D. graduates finish the program with 44 weeks of clinical training, as opposed to the 16 weeks they received through the previous B.S. in pharmacy program," Abel said. ""This makes for a much more rounded professional."

While Purdue once offered an undergraduate degree in pharmacy, Abel said such programs were being phased out around the country because of the profession's increasing clinical orientation.

"If you become a pharmacist today, you are not going to be working far from your patients," he said. "The complexities in health care and accessibility to care is bringing pharmacists into their own as health care providers, and they need more experience dealing with patients face-to-face. Consequently, we are now beginning to see doctoral-level programs in pharmacy becoming the norm, and Purdue is trying to maintain its eminence while adjusting to society's needs."

Abel said the relationship with Wishard also would assist working pharmacists from both institutions.

"Our faculty will benefit from increased opportunities to perform hospital-based research," he said. "Teaching and researching go hand in hand, and the Wishard staff will be able to bring ground knowledge from the hospital floor to our educators. Similarly, teaching our students will help them grow professionally as well. The program benefits everyone involved."

Writer: Chad Boutin, (765) 494-2081,

Source: Steven Abel, (317) 613-2315,

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

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