Bernie’s Pharmacy helps educate Alaska pharmacists for fifth year in a row

by UAA College of Health  |   

Check presentation
Checks are presented to the Bernie Klouda Memorial Scholarship supporting the UAA/ISU Doctor of Pharmacy Program. Present are (L to R): Executive Associate Dean Tom Wadsworth, Editha Manansala from First National Bank of Alaska, Scholarship recipients David Besh, Hee Namung and Viktorija Podlutskaya, Jacqueline May, Alaska Pharmacist of the Year and Teresa E. Hall-Klouda, owner of Bernie's Pharmacy, and Kippy Lane, brange manager from First National Bank of Alaska. (Photo by Brett Rawalt / University of Alaska Anchorage)

Since the Doctor of Pharmacy Program began in Alaska, Bernie’s Pharmacy has provided nearly $30,000 in scholarships to students.  

Bernie’s Pharmacy is an Alaskan-owned, independent pharmacy in Anchorage, founded in 1980 by life-long Alaskan, Bernie Klouda. Over the years, Bernie provided the opportunity for pharmacy students to complete their intern rotations at Bernie’s Pharmacy, mentoring many pharmacy students and new pharmacists. Bernie had a long and distinguished career, and he believed strongly that educating pharmacists was important to ensure the health of Alaskans. 

He passed away in 2015, and his wife, Terri Hall Klouda now operates Bernie’s Pharmacy and helps carry on Bernie’s passion and legacy through the Klouda Foundation. 

“The collaboration between UAA and ISU to open a Doctor of Pharmacy education program in Alaska has been a historic undertaking to address the unique needs of developing pharmacists in our state, and Bernie’s Pharmacy has been with us every step of the way, making sure our students are successful,” explains Tom Wadsworth, PharmD, BCPS, executive associate dean for the program at UAA/ISU. 

The Alaska Department of Labor & Workforce Development reports that there are at least 20 new vacant pharmacist positions annually throughout the state, and projects an additional four percent growth in pharmacist positions by 2028. Providers in Alaska frequently resort to hiring pharmacists outside of Alaska, driving up their costs to cover incentive bonuses and relocation fees. These extra expenses often repeat for the same position in a short period, as outside recruits typically leave Alaska within two years. 

Jennifer Motes, UAA College of Health senior development officer, says, “Alaska has many unique challenges that make it clear the solution for Alaska is to educate its own pharmacists. Tuition assistance is an important part of ensuring students can count on this support and complete the program on time. We are grateful for Bernie and Terri’s commitment to provide a scholarship for every first year student.” 

The pharmacy program at Idaho State University is one of the premier pharmacy programs in the country with a 102-year history. In 2015, the University of Alaska Anchorage partnered with ISU to establish an Alaska-based campus for ISU’s pharmacy program as a way for Alaskans to earn a Doctor of Pharmacy degree without leaving Alaska. The program enrolls up to 15 new students every semester, resulting in an active cohort of 60 students pursuing a degree annually. The first cohort of students graduated in 2020. All secured employment in the state or entered residency programs with plans to return upon completion.

“If UAA did not offer its pharmacy program in Alaska, I would not be in pharmacy school right now. I would be studying some other career field”, said Amity Winborg, UAA/ISU Pharmacy Student. 

A formal check presentation took place on Monday, February 13, 2023 at Bernie’s Pharmacy. 

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