Wal-Mart Partners with School of Pharmacy for Leadership Initiative

Lauren Schlesselman '94 (PHR), '12 MA speaks to pharmacy students about the new Pharmacy Leadership Program in the School of Pharmacy building on Feb. 22, 2013. (Ariel Dowski/UConn Photo)
Lauren Schlesselman '94 (PHR), '12 MA speaks to pharmacy students about the new Pharmacy Leadership Program in the School of Pharmacy building on Feb. 22, 2013. (Ariel Dowski/UConn Photo)

SHARELINES

Lauren Schlesselman '94 (PHR), '12 MA, assistant clinical professor of pharmacy practice, speaks to pharmacy students about the new Pharmacy LEADERS track. (Ariel Dowski '14 (CLAS)/UConn Photo)
Lauren Schlesselman ’94 (PHR), ’12 MA, assistant clinical professor of pharmacy practice, speaks to pharmacy students about the new Pharmacy LEADERS track. (Ariel Dowski ’14 (CLAS)/UConn Photo)

The School of Pharmacy is teaming up with Wal-Mart Stores Inc. to provide advanced leadership training to UConn pharmacy students.

The new Pharmacy LEADERS curriculum/career track is believed to mark the first time Wal-Mart has partnered with a major university specifically for leadership development in pharmacy practice and the pharmaceutical sciences. LEADERS is an acronym that stands for Leadership through Engagement, Advocacy, Dedication, Education, Research, and Service.

Applications are currently being accepted for the Pharmacy LEADERS track, which is scheduled to launch in the fall of 2013. The program is designed to expand students’ knowledge and pharmacy experience while preparing them for their future role as the next generation of pharmacy leaders.

“Developing leaders in pharmacy and the pharmaceutical sciences is an important part of the program here at UConn,” says Andrea Hubbard, associate dean of the pharmacy school. “We are excited about this partnership with Wal-Mart and the opportunities it offers our students. Cultivating leaders and providing them the ability to improve their leadership skills as students will be a long-term benefit not only to the school, but to the profession of pharmacy.”

The leadership track is open to all students enrolled in the pharmacy school. Students can apply for the program during their first or second professional year and they must maintain a 3.0 pharmacy GPA to be eligible.

The track is designed to teach students skills they can use in both the laboratory and the classroom, in pharmacy student organizations, during experiential rotations, and eventually as leaders within such settings as hospitals, community pharmacies, residency programs, and national pharmacy organizations. Students who complete the LEADERS program will be recognized as Pharmacy LEADERS Scholars.

Wal-Mart is one of the nation’s top pharmacy retailers. The company opened its first pharmacy in 1978 and now offers more than 4,300 community pharmacy locations throughout the United States.

“Leadership is very important to Wal-Mart because in order to be a great community pharmacist you need to be more than clinically competent,” says Dean Adi, Wal-Mart’s regional manager for health care recruiting and campus relations in the northeastern United States. “A great community pharmacist needs to be a leader, someone who can communicate with their staff and patients; someone who can take the time to explain to a patient why they are taking a certain medication; someone who can handle different responsibilities and delegate tasks. That’s leadership.”

Topics to be covered by the Pharmacy LEADERS program include ethical decision making, leadership styles, time management, and organizational leadership. As part of the program, Wal-Mart representatives will visit the school occasionally to speak to students about various aspects of leadership.

Cultivating leaders and providing them the ability to improve their leadership skills as students will be a long-term benefit not only to the school, but to the profession of pharmacy.

The leadership program will serve as a supplement to the UConn School of Pharmacy’s regular academic track, which requires six years of study to obtain a pharmacy doctorate of Pharm.D. Upon completion, students can test to become a licensed pharmacist. The Pharm.D. program’s first two years focus on a variety of pre-pharmacy requirements. They are followed by four years of professional study in which students earn a Bachelor of Science and ultimately a doctorate degree.

The UConn School of Pharmacy has offered a one-credit elective course called Future Pharmacy Leaders to students in their first professional year and members of its student leadership group Phi Lambda Sigma since 2009. But the program dramatically expanded over the past two years in response to student interest, and now includes new course offerings for students in their second and third professional year. School officials, anticipating a potential full pharmacy leadership career track, approached Wal-Mart last year for corporate support.

Wal-Mart’s initial investment will help pay for student books, leadership retreats, travel expenses for visiting authors and guest lecturers, and other program costs, according to Lauren Schlesselman, an assistant clinical professor of pharmacy practice and director of the school’s Office of Assessment & Accreditation. Schlesselman oversees the leadership program.

The Pharmacy LEADERS track consists of four primary curricular components: classroom, experience, service, and research. Students will be responsible for an independent research project and they will need to conduct 120 hours of service learning, outreach activities, or hospital administrative activities. They also must complete one academia-, management-, or other leadership-related experiential rotation.

Word of the new program is already leaking out among students.

“They’re very excited about it,” Schlesselman says. “They want to get started on their research.”

Jun Wang, a second professional year student, is very interested.

“Leadership courses add another dimension of learning that is not presented in the core curriculum,” says Wang. “In today’s demanding and fast-paced world, leadership skills will help move my professional career forward. Taking leadership classes helps me focus on working harder, build real world skills, and improve my weaknesses.”

UConn pharmacy students interested in more formal business training can find it through the School of Pharmacy’s joint Pharm.D.-MBA program with the UConn School of Business. That program is open to students who complete their first two years of study in the School of Pharmacy. Those students then enroll in the School of Business’s MBA program for their third year, before returning to Pharmacy for their final two years of the pharmacy doctorate program.