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ISU College of Pharmacy's Alaska program has a successful first year

June 29, 2017
Written by Scarlett O. Smith

Picture of students Tiffany Ma and Janelle Solbos and ISU Alaska Programs Assistant Dean Tom Wadsworth
From left, students Tiffany Ma and Janelle Solbos and ISU Alaska Programs Assistant Dean Tom Wadsworth.

POCATELLO – It has been one year since Idaho State University united with the University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA) to offer students a four-year Doctor of Pharmacy degree without having to leave Alaska.

Since then, the ISU College of Pharmacy's Alaska campus has received its accreditation and has already filled all 15 of its seats for the upcoming fall semester. Now, because of ISU’s expansion to Alaska, all 50 states have a Pharm.D. program offered within their border.

ISU’s successful expansion to Alaska is due largely in part to the hard work of Tom Wadsworth, ISU’s assistant dean of Alaska programs. Wadsworth moved to Alaska from Idaho for the position and says he is thrilled to help run the new pharmacy program and work with passionate students.

“The founding principle of this program is to train Alaskans, in Alaska, for Alaska jobs,” Wadsworth said . “Our students want to give back to the community, so working in Alaska after they graduate is important to them.”

Alaskan students connect online to the Pocatello and Meridian lectures via distance learning and video conferencing technology. Therefore, students have the same instructors and can interact with Idaho students.

After a visit to the Alaska campus one of the members of the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education said, “Frankly, it was the best distance learning experience to date for the staff member who has encountered many dual-campus programs. The program is complemented for its attention to meeting its technology needs to deliver the curriculum.”

The first Alaska class will graduate in 2020 and consists of five students. Though small, most of the class members have received a 4.0 GPA in their first year.

“These five students are real trailblazers for future classes. They are also filling a void that’s been lacking here in Alaska,” said Wadsworth.

One of those students is grateful to pursue this degree in her home state.

“As a lifelong Alaskan, I look forward to raising my son, growing my family and learning in a challenging and dynamic career where I can contribute the best of me for the good of others in our Alaska community,” said Tiffany Ma, UAA student.

With the program still in its establishment phase, UAA is taking big steps to update its facilities. Over the summer, student laboratories and administrator’s offices will be remodeled.   

For more information about the ISU-UAA joint pharmacy program, go to