Two Pharmacy Degrees, Four Years | An Interview with Pharmacy Prof Brendan Stamper

The role of pharmacists is evolving, and the Pacific University School of Pharmacy is evolving with it.

The school has launched a joint PharmD/MS program focusing on helping students develop their research skills alongside their interprofessional clinical care.

Brendan Stamper PhD is an associate professor in the program whose own research interests focus on medicinal chemistry of drug structure-toxicity relationships. His passion in teaching is centered around medicinal chemistry, toxicology, natural products, and linking science to patient care.    

Q: For prospective pharmacy students, what is the best way to learn more about the research opportunities available at Pacific SOP?

A: The first thing to do would be to check out our research pages online. From there you can access information regarding our impressive research facility, current faculty research projects, even specialized research opportunities that are offered concurrent with or in addition to the PharmD curriculum, such as our research track and the PharmD/MS joint degree program. I would also recommend contacting faculty with whom you are interested in working, or whose projects interest you. Staff and faculty members at the School of Pharmacy are very accessible and thoroughly enjoy working with motivated students.

Q: Any words of wisdom to prospective pharmacy students on being a successful PharmD/MS candidate?

A: We are looking for highly motivated students who have a true desire to implement research strategies in their future pharmacy career. 

Q: Which scientific conferences have we had success with in the past?

A: We are lucky in that we have been able to tailor conference attendance to student interest. For those students interested in pharmacology, toxicology, and medicinal chemistry research, Pacific has a strong footprint and track record of success sending students to Experimental Biology. In fact, the work of at least 14 of our students will be presented at the Annual Experimental Biology Meeting this year in San Diego. Students have also presented at various regional and national meeting associated with the American Chemical Society, American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists, American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy, and Oregon Society of Health-System Pharmacists, to name a few.

Q: What is the process to select the master’s thesis committee?

A: Once a student is accepted into the PharmD/MS program, the first year is typically spent getting to know the research focuses of each faculty member through our Advanced Topics in Pharmaceutical Sciences course. This exposure allows us to find the best fit between a student and their thesis advisor. By Year 3, a thesis committee is formed that includes a minimum of two experts in the field of the thesis project. Insight from these individuals ensures successful completion and direction of the thesis project as well as timely graduation. 

Q: What kinds of institutions do you anticipate hiring from graduates of the PharmD/MS program?

A: Having a solid foundation in scientific inquiry and research methods is invaluable in today’s approach to medicine and healthcare, which is highly evidence-based. So, graduates from the PharmD/MS program will be well qualified for any position in the pharmacy profession. More specifically, our graduates will be highly competitive for Post-Graduate Year One (PGY1) pharmacy residency training positions, research hospital positions, as well as jobs in the pharmaceutical industry. 

Q: What kinds of interdisciplinary opportunities (e.g. residency, fellowship) will there be for students and graduates of the PharmD/MS program?

A: Our graduates will be competitive for PGY1 residencies and fellowships within the pharmaceutical industry. Some students may even choose a path that includes additional training in research and apply to PhD programs in specialty pharmaceutical science fields.

Q: How does the thesis year (P4?) shape up logistically? How can students make the most of this critical academic year?

A: Our innovative curriculum is heavily research-focused. There are no didactic courses in the P4 year and students are focused on completing their thesis project. That being said, we have built in flexibility for those who would like to gain clinical experience. Because this is a joint degree program, PharmD/MS students do complete all their PharmD requirements by the end of their third year and will receive their degree at that time. This allows motivated PharmD/MS students decide whether they might be interested in balancing a part-time job as a pharmacist with their research responsibilities in the MS portion of the degree program. This design was intentional, as it allows students to not only remain current in their practice, but also potentially bring clinical experience into their research project. Financially, it benefits students, since they can use earned income to help fund their education. In the end, students who enroll in this program are able to gain clinical experience, earn their PharmD, and obtain an MS in Pharmaceutical Sciences in four years, the same amount of time it takes to earn your PharmD from a traditional pharmacy program. Pretty cool! 

Learn more about research in the School of Pharmacy in this video with Dr. Stamper.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018