Purdue launches veterinary pharmacy residency

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Program will certify pharmacists as veterinary pharmaceutical experts.

As consumer options to purchase veterinary drugs outside of the veterinary clinic increase, so does the need for pharmacists with special training in animal health. Purdue University will soon become the third institution to offer a residency program in veterinary clinical pharmacy practice. The program will open with one residency position in July 2015.

Brian Shepler, director of advanced pharmacy practice experiences and assistant dean for experiential education in Purdue's College of Pharmacy, says in a university release that demand for pharmacists trained in veterinary care and therapeutics has increased as treatments and medicines available for pets have become more abundant. "Whether filling a prescription for Frank or Fido, a pharmacist's role is to ensure that a medication and its dosage are safe and appropriate for a patient, to check for any potentially harmful interactions, and to offer advice on ways to minimize discomfort from side effects. This residency provides training to pharmacists so that they can help ensure an animal's safety and provide optimum care," Shepler says.

Wil Gwin (right), pharmacy director at Purdue's Veterinary Teaching Hospital, guides Purdue pharmacy student Jonathan Sarky as he fills a prescription during a clinical rotation in the hospital's pharmacy. Photo courtesy of Purdue University.According to the university, during the one-year residency a pharmacist will participate in rotations in the various departments of Purdue's Veterinary Teaching Hospital. "Residents will learn the anatomy, physiology and different ways drugs are metabolized and act within different species, and to prepare high-quality, safe and effective compounded preparations for animal patients," the release states. "Residents also will learn the regulations and ethical responsibilities of drug use in animals and will gain experience in designing and performing clinical pharmacology research." The additional training and education will prepare residents for certification by the Society of Veterinary Hospital Pharmacists and to become diplomates of the International College of Veterinary Pharmacy.

Wil Gwin, pharmacy director at Purdue's Veterinary Teaching Hospital, who helped develop the new residency program, says there is a need not just for those trained to dispense medications to animals, but for those who can prepare the medications. "There is a great variation in prescribed doses from Chihuahua to Great Dane and from dog to cat to bird or guinea pig," Gwin says in the release. "The drug manufacturers don't provide the medication in each of these doses, so many of the medications dispensed to animals must be specially prepared for each prescription. There also are different toxicities that need to be taken into account. A sweetener that helps your child's medicine taste better can be fatal to dogs."

University officials believe the new residency position will be highly coveted. Gwin says graduates of Purdue's residency program will have knowledge and skills that will make them valuable assets to the veterinary pharmaceutical industry, regulatory agencies, colleges of pharmacy and colleges of veterinary medicine. Last year, he says, 36 pharmacists applied for the two available positions within such residencies in the nation.

Applicants must have a doctor of pharmacy degree and be eligible for licensure to practice pharmacy in Indiana. Those interested in applying should contact Gwin directly at wegwin@purdue.edu.

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