Rutgers Pioneers Dual Doctorate in Pharmacy/Medicine

Rutgers Pioneers Dual Doctorate in Pharmacy/Medicine

The new PharmD/MD program is believed to be first of its kind
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Beth-Ann Kerber

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. – A dual-degree program combining a doctorate in pharmacy with a medical degree has been developed by Rutgers University’s Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy.

The schools, part of the new Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences, will launch the new PharmD/MD program within the next year. Health care education professionals believe that this program will be the first of its kind and could become a model to better prepare the experts who will drive national health-care policy in the wake of the Affordable Care Act.   

The 10-year program, available only to students enrolled in the PharmD program at the Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy, will integrate core instruction in basic and clinical sciences with clinical clerkships and rotations, to train health care professionals as leaders in policy, research, and clinical settings, according to Peter S. Amenta, dean, Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.

Peter Amenta, left, dean, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, and Joseph Barone, acting dean, Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy.
The program will enable students to obtain a more complete understanding of both the diagnostic and treatment sides of health care, toward an ultimate goal of more comprehensive patient care.

“This new program builds on an established foundation of collaboration between our two institutions, and we are particularly indebted to pharmacy Acting Dean Joseph Barone for devising and bringing it to fruition,” Amenta says. “We are pleased to be able to enrich the education of future generations of medical students in a way that has not been available before. The dual degree offers the unique opportunity to integrate the perspectives of pharmacists and physicians in a way that has the capacity to inform health care advances on a national level. It is also reflective of a growing trend toward interdisclipinary collaborations in medicine as a whole.”

The program will train an elite cadre of interdisciplinary practitioners and clinicians, while respecting the history and missions of medicine and pharmacy, says Joseph A. Barone, professor and acting dean, Rutgers Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy.

Historically, there has been a precedent for the pharmacy school’s alumni opting to continue their training at medical school, including Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, Barone notes.

“Creating this formal arrangement solidifies our commitment to educating an individual fully skilled in both professions,” he says, explaining that the resultant training has benefits not only with regard to producing highly skilled educators and researchers with the capability to conduct research at a higher level, but also with respect to changing health care policy. “Health care policy is becoming increasingly complicated, a lot of it being driven by a clear mandate for interdisciplinary care. Somebody with this type of training has the interdisciplinary background that can help them develop a much greater depth of understanding of health care policy issues and, in fact, to be able to help craft national health care policy in a meaningful way.”

Introducing the dual degree now is particularly significant, notes Christopher Molloy, interim chancellor of Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences, given the major health care changes anticipated in the near future and the need for a deeper understanding of individual drugs among health care providers.

“I applaud Dean Amenta and Dean Barone for making this a reality now in the health reform era,” Molloy said.  “We expect that major benefits consumers and academics will realize will result from a greater focus on collaborative and interdisciplinary approaches to education and patient care. Therefore, this is an exciting achievement given the direction in which health care is moving, enabling dual degree candidates to establish a much broader foundation on which to base pharmaceutical therapies.  In addition, this enhances the potential for new types of health care leaders.”

The new PharmD/MD program will provide students with intensive, interprofessional mentoring through the School of Pharmacy’s Research Honors Program and the Honors Program at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.

“They will have the opportunity to develop and participate in seminar series, conceptualize and carry out research projects, and participate in innovative, interdisciplinary clinical rotations and clerkships,” Barone says. “In addition, they will participate in a capstone leadership project that integrates their pharmacy and medical professional training, contributes to the literature on interdisciplinary health care, and makes a documented contribution to clinical practice.”

The PharmD component of the dual degree consists of two pre-professional years and four professional years of training; interested students apply for acceptance into the highly competitive PharmD/MD program in the spring semester of their second professional year. Each applicant will undergo a rigorous review process by the School of Pharmacy’s dual-degree committee and Robert Wood Johnson Medical School’s admissions committee.

More information about the program is available by contacting Carol S. Goldin, associate dean for assessment at the Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy, at 848-445-6254 or For additional information about preparing for medical school as a pre-med student, call Robert Wood Johnson Medical School’s admissions office at 732-235-4577.

About Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School

As one of the nation's leading comprehensive medical schools, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School is dedicated to the pursuit of excellence in education, research, health care delivery, and the promotion of community health. Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, the medical school's principal affiliate, comprise one of the nation's premier academic medical centers. In addition, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School has 34 other hospital affiliates and ambulatory care sites throughout the region. Its physician practice, Robert Wood Johnson Medical Group, is among the largest multispecialty physician practices in the state, with more than 500 physicians representing more than 200 specialty and subspecialty areas.

Part of Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School encompasses 20 basic science and clinical departments, and hosts centers and institutes including The Cardiovascular Institute, the Child Health Institute of New Jersey, the Center for Advanced Biotechnology and Medicine, the Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute, and the Stem Cell Institute of New Jersey. The medical school maintains educational programs at the undergraduate, graduate, and postgraduate levels on its campuses in New Brunswick and Piscataway and provides continuing education courses for health care professionals and community education programs. To learn more about Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, visit Find us online at and   

About Rutgers Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy

Founded as an independent college in 1892 and incorporated into Rutgers University in 1927, The Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, is dedicated to excellence in healthcare and biomedical education, innovative and visionary research and scholarship in the pharmaceutical sciences, exemplary clinical practice, and outreach and community services that address the needs of the citizens of New Jersey and society at large. The school offers a preeminent educational program for doctor of pharmacy students—accredited by the American Council for Pharmacy Education—with a strong foundation in basic and clinical sciences, coupled with an emphasis on patient-centered care; multidisciplinary research, graduate education, and post-doctoral training programs in pharmaceutical and biomedical sciences, pharmacoeconomics, and related health and basic science fields; comprehensive postgraduate clinical residency, and fellowship programs in diverse fields, including pharmacy practice, the pharmaceutical industry, and health outcomes research; and continuing education programs.

In addition to the new PharmD/MD program, Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy also offers dual-degree programs in PharmD/PhD, PharmD/MBA, and PharmD/MPH, as well as graduate programs in pharmaceutical sciences, medicinal chemistry, and toxicology. Its post-doctorate Pharmaceutical Industry Fellowship Program, which trains approximately 85 fellows annually, is the largest in the nation. To learn more about the Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy, visit

Media Contact
Beth-Ann Kerber