Inside INdiana Business

Purdue graduates pharmacy students early

Purdue graduates 144, 4th year pharmacy students early to help in the pandemic fight. (photo courtesy: Purdue University/John Underwood)

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — Purdue University is allowing early graduation for 144, fourth-year students from its College of Pharmacy in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Purdue Board of Trustees on Thursday approved the move, making Purdue one of the first in the nation to certify its entire class of eligible pharmacy students.

“I’ve already received inquiries from a health system about making our graduates available in case they face likely workforce issues as the pandemic intensifies here in Indiana,” said Eric Barker, dean of the College of Pharmacy.

Purdue says Barker formally requested and received the ability to grant the certification of the school’s fourth-year students. It paves the way for them to pursue their licensure exams. The university says all of the students meet the requirements of the program and the college’s accreditation.

“Having additional trained clinical pharmacists, even graduate pharmacists, will become increasingly important,” said Barker.

Effective April 17, the students will be eligible to work as graduate pharmacists until fully licensed.

“Health care systems and community pharmacies have shifted to remote work where possible and divided their pharmacy staffs into teams to reduce the likelihood of an outbreak infecting an entire staff,” Barker said. “Such efforts have placed a strain on the existing workforce.”

Purdue said because it front-loads the program with “experiential” education, the students received the necessary experience early on.

“By allowing the 2020 graduating pharmacy class to work now, this will help ensure continuity of patient care, especially for our smaller pharmacies, which are more vulnerable because they may only have a few pharmacists at most,” said Darren Covington, executive vice president of the Indiana Pharmacists Association.