University of South Florida

Entrepreneurial Academy aims to put USF Health pharmacy graduates ahead of the pack

Some pharmacists may want an edge, that entrepreneurial know-how, an added advantage of understanding how to create and drive change that supports value-based care and health care innovation.

That’s why the USF Health Taneja College of Pharmacy (TCOP) is launching a new program that aims to help its pharmacy students succeed in the health care industry and pharmacy sector.

Called the Taneja College of Pharmacy Entrepreneurial Academy, the intra- and inter-collegiate interdisciplinary program is a partnership with the USF Muma College of Business and aims to provide pharmacy students with innovative, intrapreneurial and entrepreneurial knowledge, tools, and skills necessary for advanced practice training and health care careers.

“In order to build the pharmacist of the future, we have changed the way we approach teaching today,” said Kevin Olson, PharmD, MBA, assistant professor of pharmacy and the faculty lead for the TCOP Entrepreneurial Academy.

“Every student comes out of pharmacy school with the skills and knowledge they need to practice as a pharmacist, but not necessarily the ability to tap into their creativity and develop a mindset to really think outside of the box and be innovative. We are changing that and the Entrepreneurial Academy is the foundation that will set our students apart and fully prepare them for advanced practice training and working in health care today, tomorrow, and in the future.”

Initially, the TCOP-based academy was envisioned as a potential degree-granting program. However, that vision has evolved beyond that outcome and is now a fundamental philosophy of the college. This will result in cultivating entrepreneurial endeavors in support of TCOP, USF Health, USF, our surrounding communities, and overall health care.

The philosophy is being embedded into the college’s core curriculum and for a student who desires advanced education and training in entrepreneurship, the program creators, in collaboration with experts in the USF Muma College of Business, are developing a health care focused certificate program in entrepreneurship, said Dr. Olson. The certificate program will focus on four key areas: entrepreneurship, business development/analytics, project management, and data management/analytics.

Dr. Olson, who has an extensive pharmacy and business background, acknowledges that, while very few people succeed as entrepreneurs, he believes everyone can be an intrapreneur, which is an individual who supports, engages in, and promotes innovation within a department or organization without the risks of an entrepreneur.

“By including innovation, intrapreneurship and entrepreneurship into the core Entrepreneurial Academy curriculum, our graduates will be a step ahead of other pharmacists, as well as other health care professionals, when entering advanced practice training and the workforce,” he said.

Faculty at the TCOP have also implemented facets of the program into co-curricular activities and established the Innovation Technology and Entrepreneurship in Health Care (ITEHC) student organization. Collaborative efforts with the USF Innovation Center and other community entrepreneurs offer additional learning opportunities for students through field exercises and professional development programs.  Students also have the opportunity to enroll in the USF I-Corps Program, a grant-funded program that teaches aspiring university entrepreneurs a targeted curriculum to identify valuable product opportunities for ideas stemming from their academic research or innovative ideas.

These types of forward-thinking efforts are what set the Taneja College of Pharmacy apart, said Kevin Sneed, PharmD, dean of the TCOP and senior associate vice president of USF Health.

“The Taneja College of Pharmacy has a focus on producing transformational clinicians that graduate with a mindset to exponentially improve the health care system, and not simply exist in the status quo,” Dr. Sneed said. “Our Entrepreneurial Academy is a unique, innovative program built to achieve this outcome.”

In the future, Dr. Sneed said, he hopes for continued incorporation of the innovation and entrepreneurship into the colleges’ core curriculum and potentially one day develop a USF-based Master of Science in Healthcare Innovation in collaboration with the Colleges of Business, Engineering and Public Health.


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