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Above, participating in the articulation agreement signing ceremony on March 27 in McAllen were South Texas College's Ali Esmaeili, dean of Math, Science and Bachelors Programs; Anahid Petrosian, interim vice president for Academic Affairs and Chief Academic Officer; and Shirley Reed, president; and UH's Bruce Jones, vice provost of Academic Programs; F. Lamar Pritchard, College of Pharmacy dean; and Andrea Smesny, college executive associate dean.

UH, South Texas College Open Pipeline

The University of Houston, South Texas College in McAllen Sign Articulation Agreement to Develop Future Rio Grande Valley Pharmacists

Students in the Rio Grande Valley now have a new streamlined pathway to earn a Doctor of Pharmacy degree and help alleviate the shortage of professional pharmacists in the rapidly growing region of South Texas, thanks to an articulation agreement signed by officials with the University of Houston College of Pharmacy and South Texas College in McAllen.

Current UH Pharm.D. student and Mission native Dora Rodriguez speaks with South Texas College students about the benefits of the UH program.

Upon acceptance into the UHCOP-STC cooperative program during their freshman year, South Texas College students will complete an Associate’s of Science degree while simultaneously completing their prerequisite coursework and other eligibility requirements for admission into the UHCOP Pharm.D. program.

Among the benefits provided to those accepted into the cooperative program are mentoring and personal assistance in preparation for matriculation into the UHCOP Pharm.D. program; career counseling; mentoring and networking opportunities with UHCOP alumni practicing in the RGV region; and networking and mentoring opportunities with current UH Pharm.D. students.

Participating in the March 27 agreement signing ceremony at the South Texas College campus were UH representatives F. Lamar Pritchard, Ph.D., R.Ph., College of Pharmacy dean; Bruce Jones, Ph.D., vice provost for Academic Programs; and Andrea Smesny, Pharm.D., MPH, R.Ph.; and STC representatives Shirley A. Reed, MBA, Ed.D.president; Anahid Petrosian, Ph.D., interim vice president of Academic Affairs; and Ali Esmaeili, Ed.D., dean of Math, Science and Bachelors Programs.

“This agreement with South Texas College opens a much-needed two-way pipeline for students to seamlessly transition into the Pharm.D. program at the University of Houston and provide South Texas communities expanded access to the unique skills and knowledge of pharmacists, such as medication therapy management, to improve patient outcomes across a range of disease states, especially diabetes and hypertension,” Pritchard said.

South Texas College President Reed and UHCOP Dean F. Lamar Pritchard shake hands after signing the articulation agreement.

According to the 2015-16 Update to the State Health Plan released by the Texas Statewide Health Coordinating Council in January, the population-to-pharmacist ratio in border counties is about twice that of non-border counties. The report also noted a disproportionate distribution of licensed pharmacists in the state, with slightly less than 6 percent of the state’s licensed pharmacists practicing in border counties vs. more than 92 percent practicing in metropolitan counties.

“As the only Tier One public research university with membership in the largest medical center in the world, the University of Houston is preparing the next generation of leaders in health,” said Paula Myrick Short, UH Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs & Provost. “We welcome the creation of a formal agreement between our two institutions to assist students in achieving their goals, while also helping to address the health needs of underserved communities across our state.”

South Texas College's Reed said the agreement with UHCOP is an important step for the college and its students and expressed hope that further cooperative pipelines with UH programs will be created.

"Another great day at South Texas College; this really is an honor to have the opportunity to establish this agreement with the University of Houston College of Pharmacy," Reed said. "It's going to open doors for our students and provide opportunities that they may not have thought were ever possible. We understand that it's a very competitive process, but we know the quality of our students and don't anticipate they will have any difficulty."