Considering a Master’s Degree in Pharmacy Leadership?

The demands of COVID-19 continue to grip health care workers, including pharmacists. Throughout the pandemic, direct patient care by pharmacists has shown the potential to improve patient outcomes during a public health emergency. In addition, the role pharmacists played in the public health response has revealed the possibility for those expanded roles to continue beyond the pandemic. Arguably an exciting time for the expanding industry, it comes at a time when pharmacists are already feeling stretched.

While the pandemic surges on, pharmacists continue to suffer from burnout. According to an article by U.S. Pharmacists, they are experiencing burnout at rates higher than many physicians, with causes stemming from time constraints and performance metrics. The article stresses the importance of overcoming burnout, noting multiple organizations working to prevent burnout, including the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP).

As burnout continues and the pandemic ebbs on, you may be thinking about your future. Many PharmD students, recent graduates, and those working as Pharmacists for several years may wonder if a second degree is necessary for their goals. Maybe it’s time to polish your skills and pursue a master’s degree to meet the needs of an ever-changing landscape. Could a master’s degree in Pharmacy Leadership help set you apart from others and open doors for leadership opportunities?

What is a Master’s in Pharmacy Leadership?

The Master of Science in Pharmacy Leadership degree was designed for pharmacists and PharmD students looking to advance their careers in management and leadership roles. A unique alternative to the Master of Business Administration (MBA), Master of Health Administration (MHA), and Master of Health Informatics (MHI) degrees, this program is an optimal learning experience where students can apply their knowledge and skills immediately to their everyday practice. The pharmacy leadership program combines management and professional development content in a series of healthcare, business, and management courses.

Most notably, this program is a collaborative effort with the University of Cincinnati’s MBA, MHI or MHA programs. It requires two elective courses from those programs. During the MBA, MHA, and MHI courses, students join from all types of health professional and business backgrounds to learn about health care administration and health-related business issues and apply leadership skills in an interdisciplinary approach.

How Can a Master’s in Pharmacy Leadership Help Your Career?

The Master’s degree in pharmacy leadership is a program for pharmacists in any field. Whether from a hospital setting, community pharmacy, or federal pharmacy, our graduates come from various backgrounds, goals, and aspirations. A common thread among our graduates of the pharmacy leadership program is the positive impact it has had on their careers.

Helps both in micro and macro ways

Take Zack Dumont, for instance, a 2018 graduate who entered the program ready to take his career to the next level. Working with his director to identify the right program to increase the likelihood of moving to a leadership position, he enrolled in the M.S. in Pharmacy Leadership program. When asked how his pharmacy leadership degree has helped his career, he responded by saying it helped both in micro and macro ways. “Regarding the former, well, my research project was published, which has landed me a few higher-profile speaking engagements. As for the latter, I did get a promotion to manager within the year after graduation. I’m also halfway through a three-year presidential circuit with the Canadian Society of Hospital Pharmacists.”

Opens doors to management positions

According to 2020 graduate Kelli Clarkson, earning her Master’s degree in pharmacy leadership was the key to opening doors to management positions. Her employer requires an advanced degree for any management position. As someone looking to grow and develop her leadership skills further, she found that the Master’s in Pharmacy Leadership was a good fit. When asked if she had any advice for future students looking into the program, her advice was, “If you are considering this program, I would recommend doing it sooner rather than later. My biggest regret is not doing it sooner. I feel like this program has helped me develop as a leader and has opened so many doors for my future. I took one class to try the program out, and this really helped alleviate any anxiety I was having and gave me the confidence to continue.”

Expands your knowledge

For Rachel Guggemos and Sarah Hines, earning a master’s degree in pharmacy leadership wasn’t just about getting a promotion. They wanted to advance their career by expanding their knowledge. Rachel credits her course work and classmates for broadening her perspective, which has allowed her to approach problems with more tools and resources to find solutions. When speaking about her classmates, Rachel said, “My classmates worked in children’s hospitals, the Indian Health Service, Veterans Affairs, rural hospitals, infusion clinics, and many other places. Each of us had similar experiences but enough variation in the tools available that we could share best practices and lessons learned with one another. This has been the greatest benefit to my career and is something I am forever grateful for.”

Goes beyond just Pharmacy

Sarah attributes her expanded knowledge of healthcare beyond just pharmacy to the Master’s in Pharmacy Leadership program at the University of Cincinnati Online. When deciding if she wanted to pursue an MHA or MBA degree, she found the pharmacy leadership program incorporated elements of both and was a perfect fit for her. The program gave her a new perspective, and as she says, “now, when I meet with healthcare leaders outside my department, I speak their language.”

Whether you’re taking the next step towards a management position or looking to expand your depth of healthcare knowledge, the pharmacy leadership program is a good fit for someone who desires to understand the pharmacy ecosystem and impact their career.

Why Choose An Online Master’s in Pharmacy Leadership?

Kelli explained it best when she said, “The opportunity to complete this program 100% online was so incredibly valuable for someone in the workforce who is trying their best to balance both their work and family. I would not have been able to complete this program any other way.” At the University of Cincinnati Online, we know that your time is valuable, so we build flexibility right into our programs. The classes are asynchronous, meaning there are no scheduled lectures or class times. The student completes the work on their time. A program like the Master of Science in Pharmacy Leadership is designed to fit into the student’s life, not the other way around.

Earning your Master’s degree is a huge commitment, but the positive impact on your career after completing your degree is well worth the time spent. Regardless of your motivation, earning a master’s degree in pharmacy leadership could be your next step, and doing it online could be the perfect fit for you.

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