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UH evaluating pharmacy program


Tribune-Herald staff writer

The University of Hawaii at Hilo’s College of Pharmacy is currently undergoing an in-depth self assessment of its Doctor of Pharmacy program.

Once the assessment is complete, a report will be sent to the UH Board of Regents, which will decide whether the program retains its temporary, “provisional” status or becomes an “established” program of the system.

The College of Pharmacy’s four-year program launched in August 2007 to great fanfare as the state’s first school of pharmacy, and has served as a point of great pride among UH-Hilo administrators and the community. The school announced receiving full accreditation in June 2011.

The review process is required of all new programs at the University of Hawaii, administrators said Thursday, and there is little chance that the pharmacy program won’t earn its stripes as a permanent addition.

“You can imagine it (the Doctor of Pharmacy program) will pass with flying colors,” said Kenith Simmons, UH-Hilo interim vice chancellor for academic affairs. “It’s very central to what we do.”

Additionally, she said, established UH programs must perform regular reviews every seven years.

According to UH policy, before any new program can be permanently established, a self- assessment must address a number of questions related to its success shortly after its first class has passed through the program, Simmons explained. Such questions include:

— Is the program organized to meet its objectives?

— Is the program meeting its learning objectives for students?

— Are program resources adequate?

— Is the program efficient?

— Are program outcomes compatible with the objectives?

Simmons said that the assessment is currently under way for the Doctor of Pharmacy program. UH employees have sent out emails to alumni inquiring about their employment status, whether their current occupation makes use of their Doctor of Pharmacy degree, and whether they have gone on to obtain additional degrees.

Paula Zeszotarski, a UH-Hilo assessment coordinator, said Thursday morning that she has been in touch with members of last spring’s graduating class, and the assessment is proceeding.

“We’re just getting an update on people who graduated, to see what they’re up to. We have a very standardized process,” she said.

The review also takes into account measures such as graduates’ performance on standardized assessments such as licensure exams.

A review of the College of Pharmacy’s first class to take the North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination, the Class of 2011, showed 80.25 percent passing the test, giving UH-Hilo the second lowest passing rate among those classes that took the standardized exam across the country. However, administrators have said that such results are not uncommon for brand new programs that are working out all the kinks, and they anticipate seeing that passing rate increasing going forward.

Once the review of the program is complete, a report will be written and presented to the new vice chancellor for academic affairs, who will be taking over for Simmons in January.

“It will be reviewed by a council of chief academic officers for completeness … and once they’re satisfied, it’s ready for primetime,” Simmons said.

From there, the report will go on to the UH Board of Regents, which will decide whether to grant the program established status.

“I’m guessing that will be around the spring of 2014,” Simmons said.

She added that the assessment report would be made available to the public after being presented to the Board of Regents.

Email Colin M. Stewart at


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