January 7, 2015

One thing I have learned during my short time as president is that I will not suffer from a lack of advice. And that is a good thing.

All feedback is important, but the comments I receive from alumni are particularly instructive for two reasons: (1) Alumni are well versed in the school, its history, and traditions and (2) Alumni are working, or have worked, in a wide range of roles within pharmacy and the pharmaceutical industry.

There is a wealth of knowledge within our alumni community, and it is important to use that expertise to inform the educational experience at ACPHS.

One of the themes that I hear consistently from alumni is the need for our students to be “practice ready.” By this they mean that students need to have the ability to step into real life situations and solve problems that arise in the everyday practice of pharmacy and related health science fields.

Educating a group of “practice ready” professionals is always a challenge, not just for pharmacy, but for any professional school. In a world where knowledge is quickly expanding, striking a balance between the historical foundations of a profession while keeping pace with changes in practice can prove difficult. It is why our faculty are constantly wrestling with what to leave in, what to add, and what to take out of a given program’s curriculum.

Compounding these shifting dynamics is the rapid advancement of technology – a factor that continues to impact everything from the skill sets needed for a profession to how we retrieve and communicate information. As I was reflecting on these ideas recently, I realized that we not only need to educate our students to be “practice ready,” but we need to help them go “beyond practice ready.”

ACPHS graduates must be able to operate within the profession of today and be flexible enough to operate in the profession of tomorrow – whatever form that may take. This means learning the skills and values at the core of their profession while at the same time being able to adapt to a changing workforce landscape.

This is an especially opportune time to have a conversation about the concept of “beyond practice ready.” Following a number of high level discussions from across our community this fall, we will soon be launching an in depth exploration of a Strategic Agenda for the College.

The Strategic Agenda will chart a future for ACPHS that will help ensure an exceptional academic experience for our students. A key part of this effort will be defining what “beyond practice ready” means at ACPHS and how we will incorporate this approach throughout our academic programs.

However we define “beyond practice ready,” I know that the input of alumni and the broader ACPHS community will play a valuable role. So please keep that advice coming!

Greg Dewey, Ph.D., is President of Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences.

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