Medical School

Medical College of Wisconsin Pharmacy School Frequently Asked Questions

Why is MCW opening a Pharmacy School?

In Wisconsin, as in several other states, the profession of pharmacy is changing rapidly. Drivers of this change include:

An increase in the aging population
The elderly population—age 65 and over—will increase rapidly in five-year intervals, from 777,500 in 2010 to 1,535,500 in 2040, nearly doubling in 30 years. The projected rise in the population aged 65 or older is anticipated to result in demands for pharmacy services especially in intermediate care, assisted living and group homes.

A reduction of pharmacists in the workforce due to retirements
There is a projected demand for pharmacists resulting from an anticipated surge in retiring pharmacists. In 2012, the Wisconsin Hospital Association reported that more than 20 percent of pharmacists in Wisconsin are aged 55 or older, and are expected to retire in the next 10-15 years.

Continued demand for primary care and health services in rural and urban areas
Similar to the primary care physician shortage, rural and low-income segments of Wisconsin’s health care system, and other regions within the state, are experiencing greater problems in meeting the demand for practitioners.

Increased demand for new types of pharmacists
There is a need for pharmacists who are trained to provide expanded services, including, medication monitoring, immunizations, and health screenings, as well as chronic disease management, acute ambulatory care and specialty pharmacy care.

How will MCW Pharmacy School graduates be different?

The MCW Pharmacy School is preparing the next generation of pharmacists to practice at the top of their licenses, fully prepared for the new demands and opportunities of a rapidly-evolving profession.

Graduates of MCW’s Pharmacy School will be:

  • Key providers in improving care for chronic disease and acute care
  • Strategists in helping to ensure medical adherence
  • Partners with patients to help ensure health and wellness across their lifespan
  • Leaders in providing preventive care by increasing accessibility in the community to health screenings, immunizations and other important services
  • Leaders in specialty pharmacy and public health areas, such as pediatrics, geriatrics and psychiatry

How will specialty tracks be offered and delivered?
Specialty tracks, traditionally offered through post-graduate training such as fellowships and residencies, provide MCW Pharmacy School students with the opportunity to customize their training to pursue a specific area of interest, such as a research focus area or specific specialty of pharmacy such as pediatrics, geriatrics, psychiatry and behavior health, among several others.

Due to MCW’s diverse faculty expertise and its strong clinical practice partners, MCW’s Pharmacy School will provide students with greater exposure to disciplines and specialty areas that build from the strengths of our specialists at Froedtert Health, Children’s Wisconsin, the Clement J. Zablocki VA Medical Center, among other clinical partners.
How does the MCW Pharmacy School program help alleviate the physician shortage?
Pharmacists are in an excellent position to offset the primary care physician shortage, due to their expertise in medication management and patient counseling. In addition to nurse practitioners and physician assistants, training pharmacists to practice at the top of their licenses is a logical way to extend the reach of primary care services. Our decades of experience and expertise in training physicians and medical researchers positions MCW optimally to make a positive contribution in addressing the need for pharmacists across Wisconsin.
How is the field of pharmacy changing, and why is MCW uniquely suited to rise to new challenges in this field?
In April 2014, Wisconsin signed Act 294 into law, enabling “a pharmacist to perform any patient care service delegated to a pharmacist by a physician.” The legislation is changing the face of pharmacy by recognizing the expanded role pharmacists can serve in controlling healthcare costs. That is why MCW’s Pharmacy School implements an innovative and interprofessional curriculum that is designed to train the next generation of pharmacists to practice at the top of their licenses.
Are there enough positions for new pharmacists to practice?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the projected employment of pharmacists is expected to grow approximately 14 percent from 2012-2022. Additionally, Wisconsin has consistently been identified over the past several years as having a moderate to high demand for pharmacists by the Aggregate Demand Index (ADI), which tracks pharmacy workforce and development. Several forces are contributing to the future demand for pharmacists, including the increase in Wisconsin’s aging population, and the reduction of pharmacists in the workforce due to retirements, among others. As a result, MCW Pharmacy School is answering the call by training graduates to fill a greater role in providing health promotion and wellness services and chronic disease management, which is intended to help address Wisconsin’s primary care needs in rural and urban areas.