When the Texas Legislature established Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center School of Pharmacy (TTUHSC-SOP) in 1993, it created the first publicly supported pharmacy program in the United States in nearly five decades. State legislators also mandated that the SOP be located in Amarillo. The first classes began in August 1996 and the school's steady growth since that time has helped the state of Texas address its pharmacist shortage: more than 90 percent of students who have graduated from TTUHSC-SOP have remained in the Lone Star state.
Since its inception, TTUHSC-SOP has embraced new classroom technologies to advance its curriculum and prepare students for the ever-increasing opportunities that exist in pharmacy today. It was the first program in the nation to require all of its students to have laptop computers and to deliver materials and email services in support of coursework. The SOP also requires its students to complete more clinical training hours that any other pharmacy program in the country.
In November 2009, the SOP expanded the Amarillo campus by opening its Pharmacy Academic Center. The 23,000 square-foot facility provides state-of-the-art classrooms and clinical simulation facilities and gives the SOP the ability to increase its Amarillo class sizes from 90 students in 2009-2010 to 115 students beginning in 2010-2011.
The TTUHSC campus in Amarillo also includes a new 48,000 square-foot biological sciences research building and the SOP presently occupies approximately 80 percent of the facility's assigned laboratory and office space. SOP researchers collaborate with TTUHSC School of Medicine investigators whose research is focused upon cancer biology and therapeutic drug delivery.
TTUHSC - SOP Regional Campus Development
Students who enroll in TTUHSC's pharmacy program have the option of attending their first two years of classes at the main campus in Amarillo or at the SOP's Abilene regional campus. Students remain in Amarillo or Abilene for their third and fourth years or they may deploy to either the Lubbock or Dallas/Fort Worth regional campus sites.
The TTUHSC - SOP Lubbock regional campus opened in January of 1998. The campus is located in the main TTUHSC building in Lubbock and deploys students to clinical sites in Lubbock and the surrounding region. SOP faculty in Lubbock have many clinical interests, including adult internal medicine, primary care, geriatrics, pediatrics, community pharmacy and infectious disease research. Their clinical practice sites include University Medical Center, TTUHSC Clinics and the Garrison Geriatric Education and Care Center.
Lubbock faculty and residents also operate the TTUHSC Pharmacy, which provides medications and biologicals to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Montford Unit Regional Medical Facility; the TTUHSC International Pain Institute; and TTUHSC clinics in Lubbock, Odessa and El Paso.
Roughly one-half of the TTUHSC - SOP student population has historically come from within a 100-mile radius of the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex, an area of the state where the shortage of pharmacists has often been described as critical. To help ease the shortage, the school started developing its Dallas/Fort Worth regional program in 1997 with clinical placements for a few fourth-year students.
In 1999 TTUHSC-SOP officially opened its D/FW regional campus using facilities leased from Baylor University Medical Center, and in 2002 the campus was relocated to the grounds of the North Texas Veterans Affairs Hospital in Dallas, where a 4,800 square-foot building was renovated and dedicated to the School of Pharmacy. Additional construction during 2003 increased the size of the SOP's Dallas VA campus to approximately 8,000 square feet.
In August 2008, TTUHSC expanded its D/FW program to a second location inside the Southwest Professional Building adjacent to the University of Texas Southwest Medical Center. The 9,300 square-foot facility includes a 62-seat state-of-the-art classroom, research labs and administrative support areas. The location affords faculty and students better access to the Dallas Medical Center and several of the SOP's important partners, such as Children's Medical Center, Parkland Memorial Medical Center and the UTSW Medical School clinics and hospitals. SOP students and faculty also have user privileges at the UTSW Medical Library, one of the nation's major medical and research libraries.
The concept for expanding the TTUHSC pharmacy program into Abilene first came about in 2004 when a group of community and private organizations approached SOP with a vision to offer four-year pharmacy education and research to their community and region.
The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board approved the expansion in January 2006 and the school began making plans for extending its Pharm.D. and Post-Graduate Pharmacy Education programs into the Texas Big Country. Since that time, a 40,000 square-foot campus has been constructed and classes began in August 2007.
The Abilene regional campus supports all four years of the SOP's Pharm.D. program. It enrolls 40 new students each academic year and increased the SOP's total class sizes from 90 students to 130.