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RPHARM Concentration

Concentration in Rural Pharmacy Services

While there is a clear shortage of pharmacists in the United States, Illinois faces a dual problem, both a pharmacist shortage and the maldistribution of pharmacists across the state. These trends are predicted to continue for the foreseeable future. The Illinois Workforce Information Center projects an annual average shortfall of 730 pharmacist positions statewide, due to increases in both employment and retirement. Of these, approximately 350 positions will be in the Chicagoland area and the remainder will be spread throughout the state.

Demand for pharmacists is often high in  rural communities where access to medical services may be limited. The concentration in rural pharmacy services, also known as the Rural Pharmacy Education Program (RPHARM for short), is an option within the Doctor of Pharmacy degree program.  The goal of the RPHARM Program is to educate students about the unique challenges and opportunities present in rural communities and to prepare them to practice pharmacy in a patient-center and interprofessional manner.

Select students are admitted to the Rural Pharmacy Program (RPHARM) each year. These students typically come from rural backgrounds or are interested in practicing pharmacy in a rural community.  Students enrolled in this program train collaboratively with medical students from the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Rockford Rural Medicine (RMED) Program. 

Practice in a community you love

The  concentration in rural pharmacy services uniquely prepares individuals who enjoy small-town life for a satisfying, service-oriented rural pharmacy career. Students who choose to participate in the RPHARM Program receive education and mentoring focused on the healthcare needs of small communities.

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Graduates often serve as leaders in their local communities, becoming involved with the health and well-being of the town, schools, and local businesses. Rural pharmacists are vital, respected members of the local healthcare delivery team. They choose rural pharmacy to make a difference in their patients’ lives.

Targeted educational experiences for rural success

During the first three years of pharmacy school, students enrolled in the Rural Pharmacy Education Program complete a series of elective courses designed to offer insight into issues affecting rural communities through seminars, field trips and projects. Many of these tasks are completed in partnership with medical students enrolled in the Rural Medical Education (RMED) program from the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Rockford. This collaboration provides an interprofessional educational experience that is unique to the RPHARM and RMED Programs.

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During the fourth and final year of pharmacy school, students rotate through six advanced pharmacy practice experiences (APPEs). RPHARM students complete three of these experiences in the same rural community, which provides an in-depth exposure to rural practice. These three rotations are completed as part of an interprofessional team with an RMED student.

Click here for a downloadable brochure on the Rural Pharmacy Education Program (RPHARM).