Published on August 16, 2021 by Sarah Waller  
pharmacy nutrition student

Samford University’s McWhorter School of Pharmacy is a leader among pharmacy schools in the United States for the number of joint degrees it offers students. In addition to earning a Doctor of Pharmacy, students have the opportunity to combine it with a master’s degree in fields like business, law, public health, health informatics and analytics and, starting this year, nutrition.

The university’s new joint Doctor of Pharmacy and Master of Science in nutrition program is designed to equip future pharmacists with advanced knowledge in the field of nutrition science. The combination of these two degrees provide students a competitive advantage as they prepare to enter the workforce, knowing that a holistic approach to care includes the impact nutrition has on human health.

“Nutrition is firmly engrained in almost every aspect and avenue of pharmacy, as lifestyle modifications may enable patients to increase their quality and duration of life, many times in place of medicinal treatments,” said Owen Bradford, a second-year Doctor of Pharmacy student who began the joint degree program this summer. “I was attracted to the Pharm.D./M.S. joint degree because I believe that it could strongly impact my ability to counsel patients within the field of pharmacy, and it could make me more marketable to future employers. You can never have too many tools in your belt.”

The joint degree is coordinated between McWhorter School of Pharmacy and the School of Public Health, which provides students with increased access to resources and faculty expertise provided by both schools.

“We are excited about the launch of this joint degree program, knowing that nutrition science is an important aspect of health care education and good nutrition is important for staying healthy across the lifespan. Through this program, pharmacy students will have the opportunity to expand their knowledge and develop new skills,” said Suresh Mathews, professor and chair of the School of Public Health’s Department of Nutrition and Dietetics.

There are many cases where the management of medication and nutrition go hand-in-hand. For example, pharmacists with proper nutrition training can be better equipped to teach their patients in diabetes education classes how to manage their diabetes through a variety of approaches. In addition, pharmacists support nutrition services in the inpatient care setting, for example, through parenteral (intravenous) nutrition.

“This new joint degree further enables our students to personalize their pharmacy education,” said Michael Crouch, dean of McWhorter School of Pharmacy and associate provost of Samford’s College of Health Sciences. “But it also supports the expansion of interprofessional opportunities and provides different perspectives in the classroom.”

While Samford’s Doctor of Pharmacy is an in-person program, students complete the Master of Science in nutrition fully online.