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June 16, 2006

ULM pharmacy expands horizons west, south

The University of Louisiana at Monroe College of Pharmacy is moving forward as the state's only publicly funded pharmacy program with the opening of its Shreveport satellite campus and new building in August.

This satellite campus at the Louisiana State University Health Science Center at Shreveport represents the college's renewed emphasis on truly spanning the state, said Lamar Pritchard, ULM pharmacy dean.

The facility will house 12 ULM faculty members, classroom and laboratory space and 25 ULM clinical rotation students with more in subsequent years who also will work in the LSU Medical Center-Shreveport. "For all the top (pharmacy) programs in the nation, the medical centers and pharmacies are very much integrated," Pritchard said. "That's our mission."

There will be an official ribbon-cutting in August before the start of the fall semester, Pritchard said, with the next step being the opening of a second satellite campus at LSUHSC-New Orleans, which is currently displaced in Baton Rouge.

ULM collaborated with LSU several years ago, but that tapered off. When Pritchard was hired as the pharmacy dean in 2004, he was contacting the LSUHSC campuses almost immediately to begin setting up faculty with the ultimate goal of the satellite campuses, said Dr. Roy Clay, LSUHSC-Shreveport vice chancellor.

Clay said he is excited about the partnership, which will be a "win-win" for ULM and LSU.

The collaboration better helps LSU's students and doctors learn more about drug interaction and modern pharmaceuticals, while ULM faculty and students can benefit from additional knowledge of disease interaction and diagnosing illnesses, Clay said.

The result could also mean better patient care, he said.

Apart from providing opportunities in Louisiana, an expanded College of Pharmacy can even help fight the nationwide pharmacist shortage, Pritchard said. But Louisiana is well behind the rest of the nation in providing residency opportunities for graduating pharmacists, so many leave the state for residencies and never come back. Hopefully, ULM's growth will help stop that, he said.

The Shreveport satellite campus includes five new faculty members, with the others having come to ULM within the last two years, he said. The new faculty includes Associate Dean Michael Cockerham and Roy Parish, the Tom and Mamie Scott endowed chair of clinical pharmaceutical sciences.

Apart from Shreveport, Pritchard said he hopes to have a building and lease finalized in October for a second satellite campus in Baton Rouge. When and if LSUHSC-New Orleans moves back to the city that care forgot, then ULM will follow, he said.

ULM also will partner more with LSU's Health Sciences Center in Monroe, where ULM is stationing two new student-appointed resident pharmacists.

ULM is set to begin moving into its new main campus in December on Bienville Drive in Monroe, which was purchased from State Farm last year.

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