Gaps exist in veterinary pharmacy education

Dragana Gordic/

This article was originally published by Drug Topics, a sister company of dvm360.

Many pharmacists who graduate from pharmacy school know very little about veterinary pharmacy, which presents a challenge: if pharmacists are not exposed to veterinary pharmacy where they study, how are they going to learn and use it? implement in their pharmacies?

After all, when it comes to dogs and cats, prescriptions written by a veterinarian for a pet are sometimes products for human use, requiring customers to visit their human pharmacy in order to have the prescriptions filled . But if the pharmacist is not versed in veterinary medicine, the customer will go elsewhere.

Gary Koesten, BPharm, president of Vet Pharm Consulting in Boynton Beach, Fla., and former director of pharmacy services at 1-800-PetMeds, understands the importance of education and training manuals for newly hired pharmacists.

“I found that there really isn’t any veterinary pharmacy training for pharmacists as part of typical pharmacist training,” he said. “When I retired from PetMeds and realized there was this lack of information for pharmacists, I started this company to provide training to independent pharmacies and pharmacy chains. »

Koesten also completed her own veterinary pharmacy certificate program at the University of Florida, one of the few schools in the United States to offer such a program, to further expand her knowledge base.

“We offer veterinary pharmacy training programs either through training manuals or I give continuing education programs to pharmacists,” he said.

Although it has helped pharmacists learn more about this field, there is no actual training available, except for a handful of pharmacy schools that offer veterinary pharmacy electives, and only Perdue University has its own veterinary pharmacy program as part of its curriculum.

Lauren Forsythe, PharmD, a veterinary pharmacist and assistant professor of social and administrative pharmacy at the University of Findlay, noted that a student can look up information if they really want to, but many students don’t even know that veterinary pharmacy is a real thing.

PowerPak, a continuing education company for pharmacists, also offers a suite of veterinary pharmacy certificate programs.

They’re 30-credit programs, so it’s pretty intense,” Koesten said. “It’s a great experience for pharmacists who are interested in veterinary pharmacy.”

Brian T. Bowers, PharmD, RPh, director of pharmacy at Oregon State University’s Carlson College of Veterinary Medicine, agrees that veterinary pharmacy does not receive the recognition it deserves as a profession, especially in programs of education.

“It is a specialty practice of pharmacy that we are failing to meet the basic measures we owe to those we serve, such as our pet patients, our pet owners, our students (to both veterinarians and pharmacy), our veterinarians and veterinary nurses,” he said. “We must have an educational foundation to ensure best practices in filling prescriptions for our pets and animals, dedicated to understanding patient care and the legal aspects of veterinary pharmacy.”

Bridging the educational gap in the future will mean convincing pharmacy schools that they need to offer an elective course in veterinary pharmacy that would give students some knowledge.

“It wouldn’t necessarily make them experts, but it would certainly give them the degree of education they need, and because they’re pharmacists, they could also self-train,” Koesten said. “There are categories of medications used for dogs and cats, and if you’re a pharmacist, it shouldn’t be difficult to look up the literature on these medications and get a good understanding of what that medication is and how it works. The only thing that would be different would be to dose an animal rather than a human. »

It’s not uncommon for Koesten to hear complaints from veterinarians when they’ve prescribed a medication and pharmacists call them because the dose is unreasonably high. He noted that’s because the doses for dogs are higher because they metabolize differently than humans, and pharmacists just don’t always know.

“That’s another part of this education gap and why colleges, as a group, really need to put these elective programs in place, because more and more pharmacists are responsible for prescribing these medications veterinarians,” he said.


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