The inaugural class of students graduated from the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Pharmacy at Missouri State University in May. Thirty-one students received doctorate of pharmacy degrees.
UMKC in 2014 launched the Springfield program. It partners with MSU on student services and uses a 1,500-square-foot classroom space in Brick City.
This is the third site for UMKC’s pharmacy school, after launching a campus at the University of Missouri-Columbia in 2005.
Paul Gubbins, associate dean of the UMKC School of Pharmacy in Springfield, said the goal is to provide accessibility to pharmacy education to “address the pharmacists’ shortage that occurs regionally and throughout the country.”
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 6 percent increase in pharmacists through 2026, especially in hospital and clinic settings, as the baby boomers age and higher disease rates lead to an increased need for prescription medication.
The campus is set up as a synchronous distance learning system. Most of the classes are taught from Kansas City through a video feed to Springfield and Columbia, he said, and a handful are taught from Springfield.
“Every student at every site gets the class live at the same time,” he said.
Adam Musante was one of UMKC’s first class of graduates in Springfield. He accepted a job in April as a clinical pharmacist at Mercy Hospital Springfield’s main campus.
He said the classroom environment was different than anything he experienced before.
“They have cameras that rotate around the room,” he said, noting “if you have a question live in class, you can press your microphone and the camera pans to you.”
Musante came to Springfield from St. Louis to study at MSU. Toward the end of his junior year, he learned of the pharmacy school opening in town.
“It was perfect timing for me,” he said. “I didn’t want to move away from Springfield.”
He said his class was a “guinea pig” for the program, which allowed the students to create their own culture, including organizing a fraternity and pingpong tournament.
Gubbins said many students are taking jobs or furthering their education near the satellite campuses. In the last seven years of graduating classes at the site in Columbia, between a fourth and two-thirds of gradates stayed in the area or went to nearby rural areas after graduation.
Of the 26 Springfield graduates in 2018 who’ve entered employment or post-graduate training, 22 are staying in the area.
The school locations also are more convenient for students. Gubbins said the nearest pharmacy schools previously were at least a couple hours’ drive away, in Kansas City or Little Rock, Arkansas.
The school is funded through tuition and $2 million in annual state appropriations, Gubbins said. Officials initially received about $2.5 million in state funding approved to start the school.
Gubbins said in both of former Gov. Eric Greitens’ budgets, the funding line item for the UMKC school in Springfield was proposed to be cut. But funding was able to be rolled into UMKC’s appropriations.
“Through the efforts of personnel at UMKC and MSU, and the tremendous support of area state legislators, we are funded and will continue to be so,” he said.
Beginning in the fall, 115 students will be enrolled in the Springfield program. The capacity is 120 students.
Tuition is $22,747 per year for the four-year program.
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