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Indiana University Southeast is partnering with Sullivan University for a new program offering current high school students a fast track to a pharmacy degree, as well as a bachelor’s degree at IUS.

SOUTHERN INDIANA — Two local colleges are partnering to help area students earn two degrees while setting them on pathways to pharmacy careers.

Indiana University Southeast and Sullivan University College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences last week announced a new agreement that will provide high school students in Indiana and Kentucky a fast track to a pharmacy degree.

Through the program, students can complete both Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) degrees from Sullivan University and bachelor’s degrees from IUS in as little as five years.

Current high school seniors in Indiana or Kentucky can apply for the Direct to PharmD program. Those admitted will complete undergraduate and pharmacy prerequisite courses at IUS, which prepares them to enter the PharmD program at Sullivan.

The students will have a provisional seat in the Sullivan program as long as they successfully complete prerequisites and PharmD application requirements.

Credits earned at Sullivan will transfer back to IUS through reverse transfer, allowing students to use them toward a Bachelor of Science degree at IUS.

Michele Zimmerman, IUS professor in the School of Natural Sciences and pre-pharmacy adviser, said this program is an expansion of existing partnerships with Sullivan. IUS has already offered a fast track to Sullivan’s PharmD program, but the opportunity to apply credits from Sullivan toward an IUS bachelor’s degree is new.

“This is a great opportunity for our local high school students who are committed to pursuing a career as a pharmacist,” she said.

The IUS prerequisite and undergraduate work takes two years, and the Sullivan pharmacy curriculum takes three years, according to Zimmerman.

She emphasizes the need for pharmacists in the area.

“I think a lot of folks have seen the pharmacist shortage in the area,” she said. “You may go to your local pharmacy, and there are either reduced hours or they are closed for that day. Part of the purpose is to help alleviate that shortage.”

Misty M. Stutz, dean of Sullivan’s College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, said in a news release that the Direct to PharmD program is “a game changer in allowing both institutions to serve students earlier in their educational pursuits, getting them on the track to pharmacy during the senior year in high school.”

“Being a student in this Direct to PharmD pathway will allow students to become part of the Sullivan family right out of high school,” Stutz said. “For those students who have chosen pharmacy, they will be immediately connected with Sullivan pharmacy students, pharmacists and to be involved in the profession even sooner.”

Students often feel they have to leave the area to get their pharmacy degrees, Zimmerman said, but “nothing is further from the truth.”

“It is really going to increase the awareness of opportunities students are going to have in this area and also reinforce the fact that they don’t have to leave the Southern Indiana or Louisville area to become licensed pharmacists,” she said. “It’s a win-win situation, not only for local high school students in Indiana and Kentucky but also IU Southeast and Sullivan as well.”

Admission to the program will occur on a rolling basis within the usual IUS freshman application process. High school students can apply to the program to start the undergraduate coursework at IUS in the fall of 2022.

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