UGA Pharmacy, Valdosta State University partner to meet growing demand for pharmacists

(Valdosta, Ga.)  Undergraduate chemistry students at Valdosta State University interested in a career in pharmacy now have a streamlined approach for admission into the University of Georgia’s Doctor of Pharmacy program.

Officials from the two University System of Georgia colleges signed an articulation agreement on May 25 that provides VSU undergraduate chemistry students with a guided pathway into UGA’s four-year pharmacy curriculum after only three years of undergraduate study. The agreement will allow participants an earlier start to a career in this critical healthcare field, computing to an overall cost-savings as well.

“Valdosta State University has an established, proud record of preparing students to study pharmacy,” said Dr. Richard A. Carvajal, president of VSU. “This new partnership makes the pathway for the undergraduate degree and the professional degree seamless and streamlined, providing students with savings of the valuable resources of both time and money. We look forward to the many opportunities this arrangement will bring to VSU students destined for this important health care career.”

VSU students in their junior year who maintain certain academic criteria and successfully fulfill all of UGA College of Pharmacy requirements will receive a guaranteed admission interview. Those admitted then can complete their bachelor’s degree with transferred credits earned through the PharmD program. Further, aspiring pharmacists will be eligible to receive structured guidance directly from UGA faculty, staff, and current PharmD student mentors as early as their freshman year at VSU.

Once at UGA, pharmacy students also may choose to complete a UGA Master’s of Business Administration, a Master’s of Public Health, or Regulatory Sciences Certificate while they earn their PharmD.  Along with continued didactic training, students will participate in rotations and practical experiences at various health care site in Georgia, allowing these future pharmacists to give back to communities that have supported them in their career journey.

According to Kelly Smith, dean of the UGA College of Pharmacy, the role of pharmacists has expanded. “With a population increasing in numbers, age, and diversity, the role of the pharmacist is more important than ever before – especially in hospitals and clinics in which Doctors of Pharmacy are, now more than ever, expected to provide direct patient care through comprehensive medication management. In addition, the pandemic has been a significant indicator of the value of pharmacists in helping people address their healthcare concerns. Our unique curriculum is well-suited to prepare an aspiring pharmacist for such challenges.”

Pharmacy jobs are among the best in healthcare and one of the best paying overall, according to the U.S. News and World Report best jobs rankings. As pharmacists are becoming a more integral part of the healthcare team, jobs for pharmacists are expanding. The state of Georgia is expecting an employment growth rate for pharmacists of 12.14 percent by 2028, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In addition, the UGA College of Pharmacy is ranked 24th in the nation by U.S. News and World Report, and the pass rate for the North American Pharmacists Licensure Examination is more than 95 percent, the highest of all Southeastern Conference Colleges of Pharmacy and well above the national average.

While the program seeks to expand pharmacy education, several former VSU students have already made the UGA transition. Savannah Rainey, PharmD, from Eastman, who attended Valdosta State University from Augusta 2015 to December 2017 and just earned her Doctor of Pharmacy degree from UGA this spring, remarked, “Valdosta State offered me countless opportunities to further unfold my desire to become a pharmacist through pre-pharmacy organizations as well as one-on-one advising sessions that outlined exactly what I needed to pursue my PharmD at UGA. The faculty and staff at VSU not only prepared me well in the classroom, with thorough science curriculum, but also were excellent resources for interviews. The strong academic leadership at both institutions is why I am so excited about this affiliation. Together, they molded me into the professional I am today. I am excited to pursue a career in ambulatory care pharmacy working in chronic disease state management, and I know my experiences at both VSU and UGA are a large part of where I am today.”

VSU students interested in attending UGA’s Pharm.D. program may contact Dr. Kurt Winkelmann, professor and head of the Department of Chemistry for more information.  A flyer illustrating the partnership is available.

University of Georgia College of Pharmacy: Founded in 1903, the University of Georgia College of Pharmacy delivers high quality education, research opportunities, experiential programs, and service learning in order to advance the pharmacy profession, as well as pharmaceutical, biomedical, and regulatory sciences. As the largest and only public pharmacy school in the State of Georgia, the College offers a Doctor of Pharmacy degree (Pharm.D.), along with several graduate and certificate programs, and one undergraduate degree.

VSU: Established in 1906, Valdosta State University is a premier comprehensive university that offers both the extensive academic, cultural, and social opportunities of a major university and the small classes and close, personal attention of smaller institutions. VSU boasts more than 200 academic programs on campus and online for undergraduate and graduate students, as well as a full menu of extracurricular activities, from national championship athletic and academic teams to honors organizations, sororities and fraternities, intramural sports, educational and service clubs, a symphony orchestra, art and theatre, research opportunities, and more. VSU is committed to creating a campus culture focused on individual student success, providing students with expanded transformational and experiential learning opportunities, and increasing regional impact by serving as a resource and innovative leader for South Georgia.

Mickey Y. Montevideo (UGA College of Pharmacy), 706-542-5303

Shane Pruitt, Ed.D. (UGA College of Pharmacy), 706-542-7684
Kurt Winkelmann, Ph.D. (Valdosta State University Department of Chemistry), 229-333-5801


Valdosta State University and University of Georgia College of Pharmacy signed a transfer articulation agreement May 25 in West Hall. Pictured from left to right are Dr. Kurt Winkelmann, professor and head of the Department of Chemistry at VSU; Dr. Richard A. Carvajal, president of VSU; Dr. Andrew Darley, director of professional education at UGA College of Pharmacy; Dr. Pierre-Richard Cornely, dean of the College of Science and Mathematics at VSU; and Dr. Robert Smith, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs at VSU.

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