Drake University hopes to help with pharmacy shortage by prepping students

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DES MOINES, Iowa — While several national pharmacy chains are having issues with staffing, Drake University is trying to help fill the gap.

The dean of Drake University’s College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences says 81 students will graduate in May 2022 and join the workforce.

The school pharmacy is training students to administer the COVID-19 vaccine, give COVID-19 tests to patients and dispense medicine.

Even after filling the shortages at pharmacies, the industry can still make some changes.

“We’re currently in the process of making changes in pharmacy workflows and insurance processing, and I think that’s one of the big areas that sometimes causes a bit of a bottleneck in the pharmacy,” said Renae Chesnut, the dean of Drake University’s College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. “Most important thing that we all need to be concerned about is that the medications are right and that the patients are safe.”

Pharmacy student Tyler Prokuski is one of the 81 students graduating next year. He says that while he is excited to become a pharmacist, he is also nervous about it.

“Especially with corporate chains, we’re filling 400, 500 600 scripts a day,” said Prokuski. “The number of pharmacists and technicians are decreasing and there is a lot of oversight that’s kind of being put on pharmacists and pharmacy technicians.”

Chesnut says enrollment for the program is low. The College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences is offering scholarships to students.

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