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VOL. 128 | NO. 227 | Wednesday, November 20, 2013

UTHSC’s Chisholm-Burns Honored by Pharmacists Society

By Michael Waddell

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Dr. Marie Chisholm-Burns has been busy in her first two years as dean of the College of Pharmacy at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center.

This year she has maintained a focus on overseeing the college’s diverse student body and on keeping costs of attending the college much lower than its competitors, while also completing a Master of Business Administration program in August and being honored this month as the recipient of the 2013 Literature Award for Sustained Contributions, given by the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists Research and Education Foundation.


“We have stayed very busy in the last year and a half,” said Chisholm-Burns, who was appointed dean of the College of Pharmacy in late 2011 and took over on campus near the end of February 2012. “This is a great school to be a part of, and I’m honored that I’m here.”

This year the college has teamed up with the College of Allied Health to offer more options for students and has introduced a new certification program in medication therapy management. Chisholm-Burns has also expanded on the college’s strong relationship with the University of Memphis.

“Now we have a strong PharmD MBA, dual-degree program. Before, we had one or two students graduate per year with a PharmD MBA, and now we have more than 10 students enrolled in the program at the University of Memphis," she said.

Adding to her hectic schedule this year, Chisholm-Burns completed and graduated from the MBA program in August in order to be able to better advise her students.

Enrollment numbers at the College of Pharmacy over the past two years have held steady, with this year’s first-year class totaling 166 students. The student body ranges in age from 20 to 47, and 60 percent of students are female.

“We’re very proud of our diversity in terms of age, gender, race and ethnic background,” said Chisholm-Burns, who prior to coming to UTHSC spent 13 years working at the University of Georgia in the area of transplant medicine and then spent five years as a department head at the University of Arizona. She has worked as a pharmacist since 1992.

The UTHSC College of Pharmacy maintains a footprint throughout the state, with sites in Nashville and Knoxville, but all first-year students start out in Memphis and then have the option to stay or transfer to another campus.

“We plan to increase our presence in Nashville since many of our students spend the final year and a half there,” Chisholm-Burns said.

On the Memphis campus, the college moved into a new building on Madison Avenue early last year, and classes have operated on the first four floors. The fifth floor will be built out early next year with lab space, conference rooms and office space. The bid process is not complete yet for selection of the construction contractor for the fifth floor. That process should be completed in the next few weeks, and work on the sixth floor will get underway in the second half of next year.

Post-graduation, the college’s students had a 100 percent success rate in June on the North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination, or NAPLEX, administered by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy.

“We typically have a 98 percent or higher board pass rate, but to get 100 percent is certainly something we are proud of,” Chisholm-Burns said. “After graduating from pharmacy school, many of our students do residencies. We have a strong residency program, and we are affiliated with about 37 residencies per year.”

Student debt is an issue for many hoping to attend college, and Chisholm-Burns touts the fact one year of classes at the UTHSC College of Pharmacy costs roughly $22,000, while at competing colleges, that figure generally runs in the low- to mid-$30,000s per year and as much as $40,000 per year in a few cases.

“More than 97 percent of our students that graduated last year had jobs within three months of graduating,” she said.

Capping off an eventful year, Chisholm-Burns was honored last week with the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists Foundation’s 2013 Literature Award for Sustained Contributions, which honors important contributions by pharmacists to biomedical literature.

Chisholm-Burns’ extensive work has appeared in more than 260 publications, and she has received approximately $8 million in external funding from various organizations.

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