Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Jenelle Sobotka, Director of Pharmacy Leadership

Professor Sobotka is on a Mission to Inspire Future Pharmacy Leaders

Jenelle Lynnae Sobotka, Pharma.D, FAPhA, is a Professor Educator and the Director of the online certificate and the MS in Pharmacy Leadership degree, a program with strong connections to the long-established James L. Winkle College of Pharmacy program.

For Professor Jenelle Sobotka, encouraging students to step more fully into a pharmacist leadership role is at the heart of everything she does at the University of Cincinnati (UC).

In Jenelle’s role as the Director of UC Online’s Master of Science (MS) in Pharmacy Leadership program, her commitment to her pharmacy students is evident and inspiring to see.

Jenelle’s passion for the pharmacy field and broader interests in medications date back to her childhood when she was a farm girl living in rural Iowa. She can easily recall her fascination with magazines like Good Housekeeping and their special-interest sections devoted to medical information and healthy living.

As Jenelle grew into an adult, she channeled those early interests in medications and a desire to help others into health care, where she’s had a rewarding career for almost 40 years. Working initially as a pharmacist and later as a pharmacy profession advocate, Jenelle’s spent countless hours advancing the profession and encouraging peers to provide the highest quality patient care. As an educator and mentor to UC students, Jenelle inspires pharmacists to level up their skills to become more influential leaders at work.

Pharmacists’ Shifting Roles, Responsibilities, and Opportunities

Over the last 40 years, as patient care and medicine evolved, so has the pharmacist profession, requiring individuals to adapt, lead and be at the forefront of what comes next. “I’m enthusiastic about this change because patients need better care than our health care system currently supports. I define leadership as driving change,” Jenelle says.

Jenelle knows the challenges pharmacists face, including how they must help people through a system that’s not well designed to sustain optimal patient care. Despite the job’s challenges, Jenelle believes pharmacists with advanced knowledge and leadership skills can drive meaningful, system-level changes and organizational transformation.

In 2016, UC hired Jenelle to build a new online MS in Pharmacy Leadership program. Building the online program from the ground up, Jenelle remembers finalizing the first year’s curriculum. “It was a busy time,” Jenelle says. “I was recruiting pharmacist experts as adjunct faculty and helping assemble courses while working to grow student enrollments.”

Today more than five years later, UC Online’s pharmacy leadership master’s program continues to evolve and improve with contemporary course content for pharmacy leaders — and as the pharmacy profession responds to sweeping changes to contracts, billing services, and more. Given the seismic professional changes and increasing demands put on pharmacists, including those brought on by COVID-19, Jenelle believes that pharmacists can benefit from an advanced degree that helps them manage and lead successfully in today’s environment.

I’m the bubble gum that holds the program together. – Jenelle Sobotka

One-of-a-Kind Leadership Program for Pharmacists

UC’s pharmacy leadership master’s degree is one of the nation’s only programs of its kind and among the first pharmacy-focused program offered online. Since the program’s late 2016 launch, enrollment has grown by more than 250%, attracting pharmacists who want to earn their master’s degree online. With 100% of the learning being asynchronous and not restricted to a specific region or time zone, the online program appeals to working pharmacists in the U.S. and international students.

Jenelle is connected to most every aspect of the program — “I’m the bubble gum that holds the program together,” she says. She meets students early on in her work with the admissions team, answering questions students have when starting the UC Online program, and stays connected to them throughout their time to graduation, helping address any questions or concerns that come along the way.

Jenelle works closely with the UC Online student success coordinator, who supports the pharmacy leadership program. “Collaborating with the student success coordinator, we ensure students succeed by focusing on where they are in the enrollment process, their course selection, any scholarship support they seek, and much more,” Jenelle says. She also advises students on choosing the optimal electives that mesh with their personal and professional career goals.

Staff Leads With Experience, Personal Attention

UC Online’s pharmacy leadership program faculty understand the current health care landscape. They’re seasoned pharmacists, C-level executives, or pharmacy consultants who love education. “Our instructors are leaders in their respective fields,” Jenelle says. “They bring the right experience that pairs nicely with the UC Online’s instructional design experts to build fantastic courses with real-world relevance.”

Jenelle mentions one faculty member, a corporate hospital pharmacy executive overseeing more than 50 pharmacies. With their understanding of present and future best practices, every instructor brings management and leadership skills that are immensely relatable to UC students.

The faculty, Jenelle, and the student success coordinator understand that students are working pharmacists who are still dealing with COVID-19 fallout, job commitments, and busy personal lives. They’re collectively concerned about pharmacist burnout and the potential lasting repercussions. “Because we know students deal with professional and personal pressures, our staff supports everyone based on where they are in their life and finding their best path forward. This personal approach is core to what we offer, and it helps our students reach the program’s finish line,” she says.

Throughout the two-year master’s program, students work closely with Jenelle, including near its end. “I’m responsible for the capstone project students set up during their last year, where they address a research question or quality improvement project,” she says. “The capstone includes a formal presentation and the preparation of a formatted, ready-to-submit journal manuscript.”

Pharmacists interested in getting an advanced degree from UC Online have several options based on their career goals. In addition to the MS in Pharmacy Leadership, UC offers an online MBA, Master of Health Information, or Master of Health Administration.

(View other health-focused master’s degrees.)

Comparing Master’s Degrees for Pharmacists

When asked how a person would know if a pharmacy leadership master’s degree was right for them compared to other degree options, Jenelle’s answer comes quickly: She calls the leadership program a custom-built MBA for pharmacists. All courses include management and leadership content but are taught in a pharmacy context with relevant pharmacy cases and scenarios. “The MS in Pharmacy Leadership is for people who want to manage a team or claim the management track and move up the leadership career ladder in pharmacy,” she says.

Jenelle says many students come to UC Online’s program having already identified a desire to work in management or supervise a larger pharmacy team. If you’re five to 10 years into your career and the light bulb’s gone off, signaling your desire to grow your pharmacy responsibilities, Jenelle says this program will be a great fit.

I describe our online leadership degree as an MBA custom-built for pharmacists. All courses include management and leadership content but are taught in a pharmacy context with relevant pharmacy cases and scenarios. – Jenelle Sobotka

Jenelle adds that for pharmacists interested in a broader, health-focused degree could pursue the UC Online MHA program and become a hospital or health system CEO or leader. For pharmacists who prefer a business-focused master’s program, UC Online’s MBA could meet their needs.

It’s no surprise Jenelle is partial to the pharmacy leadership master’s program, with its emphasis on leadership and how it prepares pharmacists to run large departments or sites, better manage staff and collaborate in a cross-functional team setting. Jenelle believes this program is the best one for honing a pharmacist’s leadership skills, setting them up for rewarding career growth and meaningful advancement opportunities.

Long-time Advocate for the Pharmacy Profession

Outside of her multi-faceted role at UC, Jenelle can often be found volunteering with professional pharmacy organizations. Jenelle served as president of the American Pharmacy Association from 2012-13 and currently serves as chair of the Federation for International Pharmacists Foundation Board (FIP). At FIP, she supports and oversees the board’s work as it develops education and research for pharmacy practice and education science at a global level.

Being involved in the industry gives Jenelle the opportunity to meet new people and learn about how pharmacy works in other countries. “I’ve attended the yearly FIP congress since 1999! I’m lucky to combine my love of international travel with my passion for the industry,” she says.

Jenelle’s industry involvement and connections at the state, national and international levels inform and inspire everything she does with our UC Online students.

Take Your Leadership Skills to the Next Level

We hope you enjoyed learning about Jenelle and her long connection to the MS in Pharmacy Leadership degree, a master’s program custom-built for busy, working pharmacists and PharmD students. By choosing UC Online’s program, you’ll grow your business management and leadership skills and meet excellent instructors and fellow students who are equally committed to making a difference in the profession.

Learn More About the MS Pharmacy Leadership Program with UC Online

The MS Pharmacy Leadership program from the University of Cincinnati James L. Winkle College of Pharmacy is flexible and 100% online. Build your business management skills and advance your career as a pharmacy leader with a custom-built program for busy working pharmacists.

If you’re ready to take your next step to become a more influential leader and manager or want to learn more about the program, please complete our online form to speak with Enrollment Services Advisor.

Jenelle, her fellow instructors, and support staff look forward to meeting you!






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