Medical College of Wisconsin & University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Partnering on a New, Accelerated Pathway for Students Pursuing Career in Pharmacy
Milwaukee, Oct. 12, 2023 – A new dual-degree partnership between UW-Milwaukee and the Medical College of Wisconsin School of Pharmacy allows students to earn their bachelor’s degree and Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) in as little as six years.
“This dual-degree program lessens the overall cost of undergraduate and professional education at two outstanding institutions by reducing two full years of education,” said George E. MacKinnon III, PhD, MS, RPh, FASHP, FNAP, founding dean of the MCW School of Pharmacy. “The partnership with UW-Milwaukee, the second-largest institution of higher learning in the state, will help those living in southeast Wisconsin remain in the area for the full breath of their education, from baccalaureate to Doctor of Pharmacy degree, decreasing costs associated with moving to other campuses, while still being able to remain engaged in the local community.”
UW-Milwaukee undergraduate students pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in Biological Sciences (General Biology), Microbiology, or Biochemistry are eligible to apply to the dual-degree program. They will take classes for three years at UW-Milwaukee. Once they have met the requirements for admission to MCW’s School of Pharmacy, they advance to the three-year, accelerated PharmD curriculum.
“The traditional pathway to becoming a pharmacist — four years of college followed by four years of pharmacy school — can seem daunting to many, particularly first-generation students,” said Scott Gronert, dean of UW-Milwaukee’s College of Letters & Science. “Programs like this that streamline the experience will attract more students and help fill the demand for pharmacists faster. Today’s pharmacists play a critical role for individuals and for the public health system, providing vaccinations, health screenings, mass education, and chronic disease management.”
Leveraging the role of the pharmacist during the COVID-19 pandemic proved decisive in getting individuals tested for the virus and providing vaccines to those who wanted them. More than half (about 300 million) of all COVID-19 vaccines nationwide were administered through the oversight of the pharmacy profession. This demonstrated to the public that pharmacists can do more than just dispense medications.
As the workloads of pharmacists become more demanding, the need to grow the pharmacist workforce has become a reality with retail pharmacy chains reducing their hours. Walgreens alone reports 50 open pharmacist positions across Wisconsin. An accelerated PharmD pathway is vital to boosting the number of pharmacists.
“Had this partnership been available during my undergrad years, it would have been a game changer,” says Aaron Stange, 2023 MCW PharmD candidate and UW-Milwaukee alumnus. “The opportunity to seamlessly integrate pharmaceutical studies would have enriched my learning experience and opened doors to a more holistic understanding of the pharmacy career paths.”
The ideal time to apply for the dual-degree program is during freshman or sophomore year of college so MCW’s Office of Student Affairs can assist students with completing prerequisite courses. Dual-degree program students will be partnered with an MCW faculty member and have access to career discussions and shadowing opportunities with MCW’s clinical partners. Student services are available at both institutions to provide advising as early as junior year of high school.
The MCW School of Pharmacy is one of only 18 institutions in the country offering an accelerated three-year program to a PharmD degree. It is also the only pharmacy school in southeast Wisconsin located at an academic medical center, providing students access to clinical experiences with Froedtert Hospital, Children’s Wisconsin, and the Clement J. Zablocki VA Medical Center.
Questions about the second three years of the program can be directed to Angela Kowalski, MS, enrollment program manager at MCW’s School of Pharmacy, by emailing email@example.com or visiting MCW’s undergraduate dual-degree program webpage.
Keep up with the latest news. Sign up for Newsroom Alerts.
Latest press releases, stories and resources.