From Buckeye Learners to Buckeye Leaders


April 1, 2018

students in hallway
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When thinking about skills that employers look for in a successful college graduate, leadership ability is always on the list.

Through innovative curricula, a focus on “the whole student”, interdisciplinary training and ample opportunity for involvement, students in The Ohio State University College of Pharmacy learn the skills they need to become influencers and trailblazers in health care.

But first, how do we define leadership?

At the College of Pharmacy, we believe there are two kinds of leaders – Leaders (capital L) and leaders (lowercase l).

The Leaders are the heads of college or national student organizations. They are the strategists. They have a formal designation or authority and are responsible for pushing forward a larger vision.

The leaders “lead from where they stand” regardless of their job titles or positions. They are proactive. They lead by example, step up when things need to be done and make tough decisions. The College of Pharmacy places a direct focus on preparing leaders (lowercase l) to go on and become incredible change-agents and ultimately Leaders.

One of the ways the college accomplishes this is through classroom learning. Over the past three years, the college has implemented curriculum revisions in our undergraduate and professional programs to ensure that our students are prepared for the future of pharmacy.

“Pharmacy is changing very quickly – while we have a good sense of what the profession will look like in ten years and can prepare students for that, we also must focus on educating students to adapt and lead what pharmacy will be in 25-35 years,” said Henry J. Mann, dean and professor of the College of Pharmacy.

Our students are being prepared for this changing future by some of the leading experts in pharmacy recognized around the country. With dual appointments across campus and in the community in places such as The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, Ohio State Discovery Themes, The Charitable Pharmacy of Central Ohio and Nationwide Children’s Hospital, our faculty members have a wide range of experiences to draw from in the classroom and lab.


In 2015, the college launched its restructured Bachelor of Science in Pharmaceutical Sciences (BSPS) program – one of the largest and strongest programs of its type in the nation. The new curriculum includes a framework in which students complete their degree requirements through one of two tracks: the Healthcare Professions Pathway or the Drug Discovery and Development Pathway. Both pathways offer innovative coursework with an increased focus on integrated science learning, hands-on laboratory experiences, career development and science communication.

“We strategically designed our BSPS program to develop students for success in both clinical and scientific careers,” said Nicole Kwiek, assistant dean of undergraduate studies. “Learning content that is typically reserved for graduate/professional training, our students are coupling state-of-the-art coursework and inventive co-curricular experiences to put them a step ahead. Whether it’s in the clinic or lab, our graduates are building on this strong foundation to not only succeed but also lead in their next stage of training and/or employment.”

Beginning their first year, undergraduate students can get involved in research happening in the College of Pharmacy and across campus. These opportunities allow students to learn valuable skills like collecting and reporting research data, collaborating on scientific papers and advocating for and defending their work and ideas.


Created and implemented in 2015, the Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) curriculum, Inquire, Innovate and Involve (I3), takes a unique approach to pharmacy education. Classes are structured in modules and focus on developing a comprehensive problem-solving approach through increased incorporation of active learning strategies and mixing of pharmaceutical and clinical sciences. Students are introduced to integrated practical experiences through 300 hours of direct patient care experiences in the first three years of the program. Additional hours are spent on professional development.

I3 also places a direct focus on building leadership skills through teaching students self-awareness, assessing them on leadership skills and abilities during the first year of the curriculum and providing lectures and activities on the fundamentals of leadership.

PharmD students can also get involved in leadership opportunities in student organizations at local and national levels. The College of Pharmacy has 20 of its own student organizations for professional students, each with multiple leadership positions available. If the college doesn’t have an organization that a student is interested in, they are encouraged to create it themselves with their peers. Outside of student organizations, PharmD students also have the opportunity to be involved in leading learning exercises with younger science students in the community as part of the Generation Rx and Potions, Pills, and Poisons programs.


Ohio State led the way in establishing the tradition of Health-System Pharmacy Administration (MS-HSPA). Started in 1959, this program educates and trains pharmacists to conceptualize, plan, coordinate and evaluate pharmaceutical care in health care settings. Graduates of the program, many of whom are nationally recognized leaders in pharmacy management, include past ASHP presidents, Harvey A.K. Whitney recipients and more than 50 current directors of pharmacy across the country.

It is not just the long-standing tradition that sets this program apart; it is also the thriving alumni community active in the Latiolais Leadership Program (LLP), which bears the motto “Enthusiasm for Excellence.” The LLP program, consisting of past MS-HSPA graduates, assists health-system pharmacists in developing skills to lead and manage the medication use process to achieve optimal health outcomes. Leading pharmacy experts provide students with innovative and accessible leadership and management programs. These programs address contemporary issues and provide effective strategies for improvement and re-design for the medication use process.


Outside of the classroom, the college partners with SinfoniaRx to run the Institute for Innovation Outcomes Medication Management Program (ITIO-MMP). The ITIO-MMP is a telepharmacy program that provides Medication Management Services to more than 3,000 patients a week through 40 professional staff members and 130 students (80 of whom are pharmacy interns). ITIO-MMP employees check their patients’ medication records for drug interactions, missing or duplicate medications and look at costs to see if there is a less expensive, generic option. They also counsel patients on their prescriptions – an invaluable learning experience that allows students to better understand cultural, social and financial barriers that patients and health care professionals face, and provides an opportunity to work with complex disease states that they might not be otherwise exposed to in the classroom.

“The students working at ITIO-MMP develop enhanced communication skills and their anxiety about talking with patients erodes with practice. Our preceptors in IPPEs and APPEs have commented on how noticeable this improvement is and how it sets our students apart as practitioners,” said Mann.

While our focus on leadership begins in the classroom, it doesn’t end there.