School of Pharmacy opens new site at Missouri State University

Janet Schaaf

Students interested in the UMKC School of Pharmacy program now have another choice of destination. For dedicated urbanites, diehard big campus guys and gals or decidedly outdoorsy types, a niche can be found at UMKC.
UMKC recently partnered with Missouri State University to offer a third location for the Pharm.D. program. The Springfield, Mo., campus will be home to 30 pharmacy students as they complete the professional portion of the degree program. Another School of Pharmacy site, at the University of Missouri – Columbia, opened its doors in 2005.
The Caring for Missouri Initiative, launched in 2009, was the impetus for the partnership between UMKC and MSU. Governor Jay Nixon established Caring for Missouri to alleviate the shortage of healthcare workers in rural areas of Missouri. The state of Missouri provided a total of $40 million to the state’s two-year and four-year colleges to fund development of healthcare training programs. According to the governor’s office website (, UMKC received $11,814,460 as part of the initiative.
Associate Dean Paul Gubbins is excited about the beginning of this new venture. The initial class of students is having a “fantastic” start to the year, he said.
“We are off to a great start,” Gubbins said. “This week a faculty member and a group of students gave presentations at a local high school about the dangers of prescription drug abuse. So I envision even more opportunities for our students as they train to provide service to the community to help improve health and wellness in Springfield and the surrounding towns in the southwest Missouri region. “
Although there is no requirement to do so, the hope is that students will remain within the state and establish careers after graduation. All of the 30 students at MSU claim Missouri hometowns, and therefore have ties to the state. Half of them hail from Springfield.
“The community has wanted this program for a while,” Gubbins said. “Healthcare and higher education are major economic drivers of the Springfield community and so they are very proud and excited to have us here.”
Students will have the opportunity to train at top-rated hospitals. Mercy Hospital and Cox Health, both in Springfield, are rated by IMS Health as two of the top 100 hospitals in the U.S. Both institutions have also been ranked as “Most Wired” hospitals by the American Hospital Association.
Learning to care for patients in a high tech environment will be second nature for these students, who will be trained in a similar situation.
“All sites are connected virtually through live synchronous video conferencing technology. Students interact with professors and other students via classroom microphones, HD cameras and other technology in a real time format,” according to the SOP website.
This was just the opportunity that inaugural class member Kendra White had been waiting for.
“I have worked in Pharmacy for 15 years, and started seeking going to pharmacy school when I found out that UMKC was considering putting a satellite campus at MSU,” White said. “For years I have stated to friends, family and co-workers that if there was a pharmacy school in my area I would jump on the opportunity to go.”
White said she would not have asked her husband to uproot their family. They have three children and enjoy living in the southeastern Missouri area. She plans to stay in the area after graduation.
The new site has become a place that the students are proud of.
“It was rewarding for me the first couple of days to see students take pictures of their classroom environment and give virtual tours to their family members or friends,” Gubbins said. “It reassured me that indeed those who had the vision and commitment to build the site and put program here got it all right.”
It was definitely right for White.
“I feel like UMKC and MSU have really focused on putting the students and their success as their first priority,” White said. “… with all the work we have to do while in the program for the next four years it will be nice to be able to call this place my second home.”