Marshall B. Ketchum University is pleased to announce that its College of Pharmacy has been awarded full accreditation by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE). This significant institutional milestone represents the culmination of a years-long process to build a competitive pharmacy program from the ground up, and it would not have been possible without the vision, diligence, and devotion of the College of Pharmacy’s faculty, staff, students, and administrators.
“When we decided a number of years ago to add a College of Pharmacy and transform an established optometry school into an interprofessional health care University, this day was not a foregone conclusion,” says MBKU President Dr. Kevin L. Alexander. “It takes enormous effort and a very talented group of people to create a new program, and to achieve every marker along the way, from Precandidate and then Candidate status, to full accreditation. It is a testament to the hard work and skill of our dedicated people in the College of Pharmacy. I am so proud of this significant accomplishment for MBKU.”
Among the many individuals who had an important role in the accreditation process, is the College of Pharmacy’s Dean, Dr. Ed Fisher, who came to MBKU with extensive experience in building pharmacy programs. Additionally, Assistant Dean of Student Services Christopher Bell, has been at MBKU from the beginning, when the College of Pharmacy was merely a vision. Both are able to look back at the accreditation process with some small measure of relief, but mostly with pride.
“I truly look at it as the culmination of my career, having helped start three different programs in three different administrative positions,” says Dr. Fisher. “But there is no doubt that ultimately it is a group effort. Faculty, staff, administration – everyone has to be together in this. I say it all the time: this is the best group of individuals I have ever worked with. Everyone goes above and beyond their area of expertise in collegiality and in their convivial nature.”
This atmosphere of mutual respect, selflessness, and collaboration is certainly an advantage for the College of Pharmacy when it comes to the painstaking details of meeting accreditation requirements. The process is complex and meticulous and demands a large community to pull in the same direction.
“There’s a litany of standards that we have to meet, which get spread out among the various stakeholders within the College and University,” explains Bell. “Administrators, faculty, and students are all a part of the process. Nothing in the college operates totally independent of everything else. Everything we do potentially impacts the outcomes of our program, so it is really important to make sure there is consistency among those standards, that we are meeting our goals, and that we are providing the education we said we would.”
Another key asset the College of Pharmacy enjoyed in the accreditation process was strong institutional support from the President Alexander and the rest of MBKU’s leadership. This support was clear to the ACPE, assuring the accrediting council that MBKU’s College of Pharmacy would always be able to count on having the resources to create a rigorous curriculum, have students meet high academic standards, and achieve desired learning outcomes.
“President Alexander’s support of the program has been unwavering,” says Dr. Fisher. “It meant a lot to have him as the keynote speaker for our first graduating class, because he was so engaged with our students and faculty from the very beginning.”
Of course, educating and graduating pharmacists to a high standard is the main goal for each College of Pharmacy student, so it stands to reason that there is great respect and affection for the College of Pharmacy’s first graduating class of students on the part of Dr. Fisher, Christopher Bell, and the rest of the department.
“A lot of credit goes to our first class,” says Bell. “They were savvy enough, and believed in themselves enough, to know that our early status could be a virtuous opportunity for them. They had to take a risk, believe in the process, and nothing is more rewarding than to see their success.”
As all those in higher education know, the challenge and responsibility of accreditation is a perpetual one. The importance of quality health care education cannot be understated, especially right now. High standards and successful outcomes must be continuously ensured, even as pharmacy schools face a unique set of challenges. What is clear is that MBKU’s College of Pharmacy, a young and innovative school that benefits from a long-established tradition of excellence, is firmly situated to meet these challenges.
“One of the easiest questions to answer from the accrediting body was: ‘How come everyone we talk to is so happy?’” says Dr. Fisher. “And it is because we developed this program with care. Everyone feels like they are a part of something because they have a voice, and it makes them feel good about coming here to work, teach, and learn.”