150328-rgg-stc_uh_signing 150328-rgg-stc_uh_signing_2
<
>

McALLEN, RGV – South Texas College is partnering with the University of Houston College of Pharmacy to help Rio Grande Valley students earn a Doctor of Pharmacy degree.

An academic collaboration agreement was signed at STC’s Pecan Campus on Friday between STC President Shirley Reed, Dr. F. Lamar Pritchard, dean of the UH College of Pharmacy, and other leaders from the two institutions.

Dr. Shirley A. Reed, president of South Texas College.
Dr. Shirley A. Reed, president of South Texas College.

“It is another great day at South Texas College,” said Reed, in her remarks at the ceremony. “This really is an honor to have the opportunity to establish this agreement with the University of Houston. It is going to open doors for our students; provide opportunities that they may not have thought were possible for them.”

Reed said she hopes and believes the signing will be the start of a long and fruitful partnership between STC and UH.

“We think it is just the beginning. As excited as we are about our students going into the College of Pharmacy we see an opportunity for our students to articulate with every one of your academic programs,” Reed told Pritchard and other leaders from UH. “This is the first and I don’t know why we can’t have 20 more following right behind. Can I ask you publicly to make that happen right here and right now?”

Dr. F. Lamar Pritchard, dean of the University of Houston College of Pharmacy
Dr. F. Lamar Pritchard, dean of the University of Houston College of Pharmacy

“We’ll try,” Pritchard responded.

Reed then explained how the collaboration agreement will work.

“We think we are going to have a good, collaborative, seamless relationship for our students. We expect the students at South Texas College to complete their associate degree and by doing that they will be meeting the requirements of the University of Houston, College of Pharmacy. No guarantees in life, we understand that, we understand it is very competitive process but we know the quality of our students so we do not anticipate that they are going to have any difficulty.

“In addition, our students will have an opportunity to visit the University of Houston, participate in internship programs, get to meet the faculty, really have the on-the-ground experience with the University of Houston to help them make this decision. That really is going to make a big, big difference in attracting our students. We have so many students that have family in the Houston area. They would very much want to finish up their college experience at the University of Houston. We just see this as an absolute win-win for everybody.”

Reed explained that the collaboration agreement had taken the best part of a year to put together. “Doing the first one is the hard part. The next 20 or 30 we think are going to go very, very quickly.”

In his remarks, Pritchard said he and other leaders from UH College of Pharmacy had visited the Valley last year, noting that it is one of the fastest growing areas in the country. “I was so impressed with this College and in talking to President Reed. When I learned that you had 33,000 students. I thought, oh my God, this is something beyond a community college. I just knew this would be our next stop to reach out and to form a very strong relationship to bring more very qualified students from the Rio Grande Valley to the University of Houston, College of Pharmacy and to assist this great community and the health of this community.”

Pritchard then read out a prepared statement about the collaboration agreement. Here it is in full:

Students in the Rio Grande Valley now have a new streamlined pathway to earn a Doctor of Pharmacy degree and help alleviate the shortage of professional pharmacists in the rapidly growing region of South Texas, thanks to an articulation agreement signed by officials with the University of Houston College of Pharmacy and South Texas College in McAllen.

In essence, the cooperative program “saves a seat” at UHCOP for STC students who fulfill the program requirements. Upon acceptance into the UHCOP-STC cooperative program during their freshman year, STC students will complete an Associate’s of Science degree from STC while simultaneously completing their prerequisite coursework and other eligibility requirements for admission into the UHCOP Pharm.D program.  

Among the benefits provided to those accepted into the UHCOP-STC cooperative program are mentoring and personal assistance in preparation for matriculation into the UHCOP Pharm.D program; career counseling; mentoring and networking opportunities with UHCOP alumni practicing in the RGV region; and opportunities to shadow current UH Pharm.D students.

According to the 2015-16 Update to the State Health Plan released by the Texas Statewide Health Coordinating Council in January, the population-to-pharmacist ratio in border counties is about twice that of non-border counties. The report also noted a disproportionate distribution of licensed pharmacists in the state, with slightly less than 6 percent of the state’s licensed pharmacists practicing in border counties versus more than 92 percent practicing in metropolitan counties.

This agreement with South Texas College opens a much-needed two-way pipeline for students to seamlessly transition into the Pharm.D program at the University of Houston and provide South Texas communities expanded access to the unique skills and knowledge of pharmacist, such as medication therapy management, to improve patient outcomes across a range of disease states, especially diabetes and hypertension.”

Bruce A. Jones, vice provost for academic programs at the University of Houston-Sugar Land.
Bruce A. Jones, vice provost for academic programs at the University of Houston-Sugar Land.

Bruce A. Jones, vice provost for academic programs at the University of Houston-Sugar Land, also spoke at the collaboration agreement ceremony. Jones lamented that only about 20 percent of college age kids go to university. He also pointed out that UH is the second most diverse university. “This is a kind of proxy for the commitment that the University of Houston has to serving many communities, diverse communities,” Jones said.

Jones said Houston is home to one of the largest medical centers in the world. “We have a lot to bring to the partnership and collaboration around issues of medical health and well-being. We cannot have enough people trained in the pharmaceutical sciences and medical health areas given the shortages we know are going on in these areas across the United States. We look forward to a very long standing relationship with South Texas College.”

Dr. Paige Pitman, assistant dean of student and professional affairs at the University of Houston, College of Pharmacy also spoke at the collaboration agreement ceremony. “We want to give your students our faces, as opposed to an email address or a phone number of a place very, very, far away,” Pitman said. “We want to give your students that personal touch, so they know us, they have the opportunity to trust us and they have an opportunity to make a really good transition to University of Houston College of Pharmacy and hopefully come back and serve the community that is here in the McAllen area and the Rio Grande Valley area. Thank you so much for letting us be a part of your students’ journey to become a pharmacist.”

Editor’s Note: This is the first in a two-part series on South Texas College’s academic collaboration agreement with the University of Houston College of Pharmacy. Part Two will be posted in the coming days.