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Christian pharmacy professors wanted

07-Oct-2007: Pharmacists in Tennessee are already in high demand across the state, but the Christians among them might also be getting invitations to trade tablets for textbooks.

Three private, Christian universities in the state — Belmont, Lipscomb and Union — are hiring positions for new pharmacy colleges scheduled to open next fall. Although the process has been smooth, school administrators know they're only beginning what could be a long ordeal.

"We have fewer people going into this segment of the profession, and we're starting to see baby boomers retiring," said Belmont's School of Pharmacy Dean Phil Johnston.

Johnston has received plenty of applicants for all of the positions posted at his school but says that could change. At all three schools, faculty members must be Christians, including pharmacy faculty.

Religious schools could face particular challenges when hiring pharmaceutical positions that attract researchers of various ethnicities and religions, Johnston said.

"We encourage members of the Church of Christ in the pharmacy realm to apply for our positions," said Roger Davis, dean of the College of Pharmacy at Lipscomb.

Even though Lipscomb and Southern Baptist schools Belmont and Union don't require their hires to be denomination-specific, their religious requirements could still shrink the pool of applicants.

When officials at Harding University, a Church of Christ school in Searcy, Ark., first looked at developing a college of pharmacy in 2004, the school planned to welcome its first pharmacy students this fall.

Opening is delayed

Those plans changed when the university actually tried to hire teachers. Earlier this year, the school announced it would have to delay the opening until fall 2008 in order to hire an adequate number of teachers.

"We were in a position to be able to move forward, but it would have been a lot more difficult for us," said Bill Yates, chairman of the pharmaceutical studies department at Harding.

Harding has 12 pharmacy faculty members, and administrators are looking for six more candidates before opening, Yates said.

The situation is no easier in Tennessee. Upon unveiling their pharmacy program in April, Belmont officials estimated 1,060 new pharmacy positions were needed statewide.

Belmont's Johnston and Lipscomb's Davis say one of their biggest aids in recruitment has been Nashville's health-care market, which provides not only potential professors but also on-site learning opportunities for students.

"We're establishing contracts with all of the different types of pharmacy venues so we can guarantee we're not going to run into a problem," Johnston said. "We've found that as a very pleasant surprise."

Now, the challenge for the schools will be taking the next step for approval from the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education.

After finishing detailed applications this month, the schools will go before the council in January to hear if they will have its blessing to continue as planned — or, like Harding, receive a recommendation to delay opening.

Source: The Tennessean

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