UCSF School of Pharmacy

UCSF School of Pharmacy

Situation

When viewed from the perspectives of federal science funding and national rankings, the UCSF School of Pharmacy is a long-time world leader in research, innovative and high-quality doctor of pharmacy (PharmD) and PhD education, and patient care. The School’s drive to seek and apply new knowledge underpins everything it does. Despite its many successes, though, the School has faced challenges in differentiating itself in a highly competitive academic environment.

The demand and role of pharmacy in health care have evolved rapidly in recent decades. A rising demand for retail pharmacists in the recent past led to an explosion in doctor of pharmacy (PharmD) degree programs, more program choices for applicants, and an overall decline in applicants per school. 

All PharmD programs graduate PharmDs who then become licensed to practice pharmacy. The UCSF PharmD Program does the same, but its graduates are distinguished as highly-trained, critically-thinking pharmacists who assume leadership roles not only in pharmacy practice but in government, industry, and academia.

As part of an effort to further assert its leadership and better articulate its bold, forward-looking and public-minded approach to education, the UCSF School of Pharmacy undertook a major redesign of its PharmD curriculum and will welcome its first class under the new curriculum in later summer 2018. Marshall Strategy was asked to develop strategic positioning and audience messaging for the new PharmD curriculum as well as for the School of Pharmacy as a whole. This strategic work would become the launch pad for major initiatives and campaigns, such as student recruitment, fundraising, and alumni engagement.

ucsf school of pharmacy brand
Photos by Majed Abolfazli, ©Majed Abolfazli@majedphoto.com

Strategy

After interviewing more than fifty people, including researchers, clinicians, PharmD students, and leaders of peer institutions, we determined that the UCSF School of Pharmacy’s relentless focus on science is its core differentiator. Almost 75 percent of the School’s PharmD graduates in 2017 planned on additional advanced training through residencies and fellowships. After 38 years, the School remains the top recipient of research funds from the National Institutes of Health, receiving more than any school of pharmacy nationwide.

From chemistry and pharmacology to bioscience and engineering, no other school of pharmacy has the breadth and depth of excellence in science that UCSF does. We put this scientific focus front and center in the School’s positioning statement:

At the UCSF School of Pharmacy, science is at the heart of our pioneering research, education, and patient care.

For the PharmD program and its new, integrated curriculum, we focused the message on the scientific approach that underlies everything from clinical practice to exploring new frontiers in pharmacy. We wanted prospective students to see a UCSF PharmD as the path to a limitless future in health care and beyond. UCSF is different because it develops practice-ready problem solvers instead of formula followers.

“Our goal is to prepare fearless and compassionate leaders in pharmacy, with a scientific mindset and a limitless future.” Vice Dean Sharon Youmans, PharmD, MPH

Results

The positioning and messaging program received an overwhelmingly positive response from constituents. At the School level, the new positioning, with science at its core, has galvanized the School’s communications, raising awareness of the School’s research and education program within UCSF as well as externally. Meanwhile, the PharmD program has begun implementing its new messaging into student recruitment and other efforts.

“With the new messaging, we have a common, clear way—a compelling way—to talk about the School and the PharmD program. It’s already had a huge impact, and we’re just getting started.” Susan Levings, MS, Associate Dean, UCSF School of Pharmacy

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Date

March 21, 2018

Category

Brand Research, Messaging Strategy, Positioning Strategy

Tags
audience messaging, brand positioning, marshall strategy, National Institutes of Health, PharmD, PharmD curriculum, UCSF School of Pharmacy, UCSF's School of Pharmacy