By Sarah Stubbs
After a six month search and selection process by the University of Findlay’s College of Pharmacy, a new dean has been chosen: Debra Parker, Rbh, Pharm.D.
Parker has been an associate professor of pharmacy at UF since 2006 and has been serving as interim dean since July 2014.
According to Parker, students, faculty, and opportunities are what kept her at UF for the past nine years and encouraged her to apply as dean.
“We have faculty members that are energetic, willing to try new ideas, and who work very well together. Their support during my position as interim dean was incredible,” said Parker. “I [also] genuinely love our student body. Our students represent a bright future for our profession.”
Emily Pfahler, a sophomore pharmacy student, says that she was enthused to hear that Parker was selected and is appreciative of how UF made pharmacy students an integral part of the selection process.
“They really wanted us to be a part of the process and encouraged us to attend events where the candidates presented or spoke. I think that in itself is just a testament to how much the University cares about its students and its leadership,” said Pfahler.
Parker holds the same attitude Pfahler does about the University and says that she is grateful for the opportunities the College of Pharmacy offers its students and the collegiality between the college and other programs on campus.
“The college of business is working with us to offer a dual PharmD/MBA and the College of Health Professions to offer a dual PharmD/MSHI,” said Parker.
Looking forward, Parker already has two main goals in place as she commences her now official leadership position – goals that will further UF’s College of Pharmacy’s current missions as well as cultivate campus and community involvement.
“I want to work with our faculty and those in the College of Health Professions to integrate inter-professional education into our curriculum. Doing this prepares these students for work most effectively as members of a healthcare ‘team’ when they graduate,” said Parker. “I also plan to explore opportunities to optimize the use of medication on our campus and in our community.”
According to a news release from the University, Parker has held a “clinical practice with St. Rita’s Health Management Group in Lima since 2012, where she works collaboratively with a multi-disciplinary group of health professionals to provide patients with medication therapy management services.”
Parker says that her experiences in both academics and practice are helpful in her role at the
University and are what make her an appropriate leader for the College of Pharmacy.
“There are so many things you can do with the same degree – I have worked in independent pharmacy, inpatient hospital pharmacy, a drug information center, a doctor’s office, outpatient clinics, and now academia. I have yet to find a setting that I didn’t enjoy,” said Parker.
Among her many accomplishments, Parker is also the 4th female President of the Ohio Pharmacist’s Association.
“I’ve continued to practice pharmacy since coming to academia, and I’ve also been an advocate for our profession in pharmacy organizations for many years,” said Parker.
According to Parker, these experiences will help her to work with the pharmacy faculty at UF to determine curricular changes needed to best prepare students for current pharmacy practice as well as what the College anticipates pharmacists will be doing in the future.
Parker wants her pharmacy students to know that while she has attained professional success, she is also a wife to her husband Devin Parker and mother to three children: Olivia, Sophia, and Reese.
Parker says she wants her students to know that she feels maternal toward them, too.
“I want the best for them, I want to see them succeed, and I expect the very best behavior and performance possible from them,” said Parker.
This family focus is exactly what Parker says makes Findlay’s pharmacy program uncommon and what makes her confident and comfortable in her position as dean.
“We offer a personal touch, a sense of family and connectedness as we help our students grow into professionals. When you couple this with the fact that we are one of only 10 programs in the US that offers direct entry from high school, we have a group of students that collaborate and grow ‘together’ for six year. It’s unique and special,” said Parker.