MANATEE -- Students in Bradenton will soon be able to earn their doctor of pharmacy degrees from the comfort of home.
The Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine, School of Pharmacy and School of Dental Medicine in Lakewood Ranch, have announced a new online pharmacy program called Distance Education.
The move is designed to keep the school competitive by offering programs to attract motivated students. But learning how to dispense medicine while sitting at home in your pjs can be a challenge. Students have to be self-starters while studying the principles of medicine, biochemistry and customer service away from the classroom.
There will be times when students have to show up in class, but the program offers greater flexibility for those already working, who live a long way from campus or are stay-at-home parents.
The inaugural online class begins in August. LECOM anticipates 24 students to enroll in its first online classes. Expected graduation dates for students starting in August is June 2018.
Michael Polin, director of communications and marketing at LECOM Lakewood Ranch, said the program is ideal for non-traditional students.
Students must have already earned two-year associates degrees before beginning the online pharmacy program.
"It is most ideal for students who aren't able to relocate to a new area, or a stay-at-home parent who has the time but can't physically be in the class," said Dr. Katherine Tromp, director of Distance Education.
While students work to
ward doctorate of pharmacy degrees from home computers, they will still be required to go to the Lakewood Ranch campus each summer to fulfill laboratory, casework and presentation requirements.
Students will also have to complete clinical rotations at pharmacies, hospitals and wellness centers throughout the country.
"The most important thing to realize is it's still a very rigorous program," Tromp said.
Tromp said students should expect to finish about 60 hours of week of coursework to successfully complete the program.
'It's not something you could balance with a full-time job, but it's great for students who need a little flexibility." Tromp said. "It is still a significant amount of time and effort."
Tromp said keeping online classes rigorous while meeting student needs can be a challenge.
"It is up to faculty to make sure the students are getting just as good of an education," Tromp said.
Distance Education students are expected to take the same exams and national board certification tests as traditional LECOM students.
This is LECOM's first online program for pharmacy. In January, LECOM unveiled an online program for earning a master's degree in health administration.
"We are excited to get it going, and we hope they get the education they're hoping for," Tromp said. "More and more education programs are going this route, so we might as well get going on it and build the best program we can."
To register for the Distance Education program go to lecom.edu.
Erica Earl, education reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7081.