Nuclear Pharmacy PhD Programs

Nuclear Pharmacy PhD Programs

Nuclear Pharmacy PhD Programs PhD Programs By RODNEY D. ICE and CARO BASMADJIAN Nuclear pharmacy education is progressing into its 13th year. But ou...

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Nuclear Pharmacy PhD Programs


Nuclear pharmacy education is progressing into its 13th year. But our assessment of manpower needs for nuclear pharmacists at the PhD level is that the colleges of pharmacy are currently turning out only about half the number of graduates that will be required over the next few years. Despite a significant patient demand and the need established in nuclear pharmacy, pharmacy academicians-in their concern with federal grant support for clinical ' pharmacy-have failed to recognize nuclear pharmacy as a demand area capable of support from allied health professionals and patients. Rather, the impetus for the development of nuclear pharmacy as a spec~alty discipline has risen predomInantly from practitioners. Practitioners organized the Section on Nuclear Pharmacy in APhA's Academy of Pharmacy Practice, developed Practice Standards for Nuclear Pharmacy, worked to have nuc~ear pharmacy recognized as a speClalty area of practice, and currently are developing a certification examination.

Rodney D. Ice, PhD, is dean and professor, and Caro Basmadjian, PhD, is associate professor at the College of Pharmacy, the University of Oklahoma, Oklahoma City, OK 73190.


To assess the current graduate nuclear pharmacy programs and as a prelude to a consideration of the PhD manpower needs, in March 1981, we conducted a survey of existing PhD programs. * The results are shown in the table. Of the 72 U.S. pharmacy colleges, only nine have developed formalized programs of study leading to the doctorate of philosophy degree in the area of nuclear pharmacy. We included the one Canadian college of pharmacy that offers a formal nuclear pharmacy doctorate for the sake of completeness. (Assuming that the number of scientists going to Canada from the United States equals the number coming to this

"N ot since 1975 has there been a published listing of available college of pharmacy graduate programs , AACP d id survey all US colleges in 1978 to assess the viability of graduate nuclear pharmacy prog rams. However, these d a ta were never published.

country, we have purposely n ot in cluded Canadian manpower need~ or Canadian students in the man power calculations.) These nine PhD nuclear pharma· cy programs are expected to gradu· ate 26 students over the next thre~ years, an average of about nine students per year. Current program directors project that during th e nexl five years an average of eight PhD students would be graduated pel year. The difference is not significant, but it does give rise to p ossible variables such as student attrition and/or anticipated decreases in future funding. A number of other colleges of pharmacy indicated that they could train nuclear pharmacists at the doctora te level. This is possible because of the highly individualized "Socratic education" methods used in doctorate training where adequate research facilities are available . The question then arises, what is the corpus of the educational pro-

College/Name Colorado (Fritzberg) University of Southern California (Wolf) Kentucky (DiCenis) Maryland (Spitznagle) Nebraska (Dirksen) Northeastern (Hansen) Oklahoma (Basmadjian & Ice) Purdue (Shaw) Tennessee (Mills) Alberta, Canada (Noujaim)


Current Students 1 6 6 1 1 5 1

1981-86 Graduates 1


10 5 3 2 5 5 6 2








American Pharmacy Vol. NS21 , No. 10, October 19811

gram in nuclear pharmacy leading toa doctorate of philosophy degree? The PhD, as the highest degree program, is built on several preceding steps which provide the necessary firm foundation. The basic ingredients for a firm foundation have been described by Peng 1 (see figure). The program requires nine years of study, assuming no internshiprequirements. To obtain professional licensure, as well as be a scientist, approximately 10 years of study and practice are required. It is possible for doctorate of philosophy candidates to enter the specialty by other foundational routes such as chemistry, biology or physics. These persons are competent scientists but are not practitioners

9 7 5

~------------------~ 2 Pre-Pharmacy ~------------------~ 0


because they have not attained the professional-practice, patient orientation necessary for the performance of clinical duties and for ~ccepting the legal liability for prachce standards. , Because all programs emphasize Individual research, probably no two programs are identical. Thus, prospective PhD students should always identify particular program reqUirements and philosophy from the college to be attended. The Oklahoma PhD program assumes that the starting student is already a competent nuclear pharmacist, having completed an MS or PharmD or having equivalent nuclear pharmacy experience. At the University of Oklahoma, the courses required for a doctor of philosophy degree specializing in nuclear pharmacy must total 60 semester hours. The minimum courses required are shown in the table.

lrican Pharmacy Vol. NS21 , No, 10, October 1981 /597


Course Design and development of radiopharmaceuticals Pharmacy education methods Biostatistics Research seminar (continuous enrollment) Research Specific courses related to dissertation

Semester hours 3 1 3 4

30 19

'Assuming the student has attained an MS in nuclear pharmacy, with at least 10 semeste r hours of didactic nuclear p ha rmacy courses within the last six years, plus experience.

Students must recognize that nudemic or hospital needs or the imclear pharmacy bridges a number of pact of planned regional cyclotrons. Our survey also identified some facspecific disciplines within pharmacy, including medicinal chemistry tors affecting production numbers. and pharmaceutics. Oklahoma stuIn the majority of programs, there dents are urged to select a specific \ are a number of international students who return to their native discipline within pharmacy for additional courses related to the discountries; these students are not sertation project. available for U.S. needs. This is especially evident where graduates Manpower Survey are trained under an International Atomic Energy Association cbnTwo recent manpower surveys for tract. In one program, most stuscientific doctoral graduates have dents are part-time and already embeen reported: ployed by industry and therefore 2 • In 1979, O'Brien reviewed the not available to meet additional need for nuclear medical scientists needs as projected. by the radiopharmaceutical indusAs a result, we find that the coltry, excluding academic positions leges of pharmacy are only producand patient-oriented research ing about five PhD radiopharmaneeds. For 1980-85, industry indiceutical scientists per year who will cated a total need of 40 PhD radiobe available for the future workpharmaceutical scientists-an averforce. Thus, the projected prodage of eight per year. uction rate for the next five years is • In 1980, a survey by the Amerionly four or five scientists per year. can Foundation for Pharmaceutical It is apparent, therefore, that col3 Education indicated a need by of pharmacy could double the leges pharmaceutical manufacturers for current graduate students special31 bionucleonics-trained scientists izing in nuclear pharmacy without during the next 3--5 years. Ascreating a market surplus. 0 suming a mean of four years, the estimated need is eight per year. Our survey, based on estimates from each program director, proReferences , jected a need for 39 graduates over 1. C. T. Peng, American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, the next five years, again averaging 37, 651 (1973). ' eight scientists per year (see table). 2. H. A. O ' Brien Jr., paper presented at the American Chemical Society annual meeting, Washington, DC, The two reported surveys and our 1979. 3. American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, 44, 395 (1980). telephone survey correlate well; there appears to be a need in the United States for approximately eight new radiopharmaceutical scientists per year. This would appear to match the current output of PhD nuclear pharmacists in this country. However, the two reported surveys of need did not consider aca45