Developed in 2001, the UTRGV/UT- Austin College of Pharmacy Cooperative Doctoral Program in Pharmacy (CDPP) encourages students from the Rio Grande Valley and Laredo regions of South Texas to pursue pharmacy as a career, and provides recruitment, training and retention of proficient pharmacists that understand the language and culture of the largely Hispanic South Texas community. There is a disproportionately low enrollment of Hispanics in the majority of pharmacy schools in Texas and many of the CDPP students would have had limited opportunities to pursue a pharmacy career without the support of this program. Our students include migrants, single moms and other hardship cases. Lastly, the CDPP has evolved into a source of opportunity for students that are committed to giving back to the community in the Rio Grande Valley.
The goals of the CDPP include the following: (1) address the pharmaceutical care needs of the underserved in the Rio Grande Valley and Laredo Regions; (2) nurture student interest in pharmacy as a professional career; (3) enhance the accessibility of a pharmacy education to students residing in the Rio Grande Valley and Laredo regions; (4) alleviate the shortage of pharmacists in the Rio Grande Valley and Laredo regions; (5) diversify the profession by educating more pharmacists who are sensitive to the unique needs of the region; and (6) research border health issues.
The 12 CDPP students accepted annually represent a cross-section of the 89% Hispanic student population of UTPA. Since 2001, the CDPP has graduated 84 PharmD trained pharmacists (first complete graduating class in 2007). Almost 81% of alumni have stayed to work in this area.
For the past four years, 100% of students achieved success at their first attempt for the National Boards and State Jurisprudence exams. The CDPP initiated a celebration of American Pharmacists Month in 2010. Local practitioners and pharmacy students established a pharmacist-led annual health fair and free flu vaccine clinic for the community, and administered all services. For the past 2 years, The Texas Pharmacy Association has designated one of our students as the Distinguished Pharmacy Student for the entire state.