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KNOXVILLE—How do you cut costs without cutting quality of care? It’s a question many health care professionals face in today’s health care environment. A new University of Tennessee program, approved by the Board of Trustees in June, aims to develop students who are uniquely equipped to make decisions on key business issues facing the pharmacy today.

The program joins the forces of UT Knoxville’s College of Business Administration and the UT Health Science Center (UTHSC) to offer a dual degree leading to a Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) and a Master of Business Administration (MBA). It is designed to meet the critical need for pharmacist executives with fundamental business skills necessary to operate within the contemporary economic and health care environments.

“As the health care field becomes more competitive, leaders in the field of pharmacy are challenged to make decisions that require an understanding of health care as well as business processes,” said Amy Cathey, executive director of the full-time MBA program. “For example, which of three drugs should a particular patient begin treatment with when the evidence shows all have similar effectiveness, but one is much less expensive based on the negotiated price with the source? Decisions have to be made every day that require balancing cost and customization, all with a focus toward the best possible patient care.”

The five-year program consists of 172 hours of coursework in which the PharmD degree from UTHSC is awarded first and the MBA from UT Knoxville is awarded second. The efficient cross-acceptance of elective classes saves students one semester of coursework. The PharmD educational program includes a strong focus on the appropriate and evidence-based use of medications, medication therapy management, drug actions and properties, critical thinking, and communication skills. The MBA program includes opportunities to work on applied projects that focus on innovation, business analytics, shopper marketing, and supply chain management.

Career opportunities include management and leadership positions in institutional and retail pharmacies, state and federal governments, the pharmaceutical industry, and pharmaceutical consulting firms.

“Change is one thing that most people can agree upon regarding health care,” said Peter Chyka, professor and executive associate dean at UTHSC. “This program can develop the knowledge, skills, and attitudes of a well-educated and informed pharmacist who can provide the business leadership and insight to develop and measure the many aspects of health care as they relate to the safe and effective use of medications.”

UT Knoxville’s seventeen-month full-time MBA program has academic concentrations available in business analytics, finance, marketing, supply chain management, operations, and entrepreneurship, or students may build their own areas of emphasis. The program was ranked thirtieth in 2012 by U.S. News & World Report among top-tier public institutions. For more information, visit

Founded in 1898, the UTHSC’s College of Pharmacy is the first pharmacy school established in the state of Tennessee and has been ranked in the top twenty out of 125 pharmacy colleges in the nation by U.S. News & World Report for the past decade. The UTHSC College of Pharmacy has major campus locations in Memphis and Knoxville. For more information, visit

C O N T A C T :

Whitney Holmes (865-974-5460,

Sheila Champlin (901-448-4957,