Leadership Degree Option

To cultivate the pharmacy leaders of today to serve the healthcare needs of tomorrow.

Welcome to the University of Oklahoma College of Pharmacy Leadership Degree Program (LDO). Eleanor Roosevelt said, "You must do the thing you think you cannot do." The LDO is designed with the purpose to facilitate personal and professional growth and development that will prepare you to lead within the changing health-care system. You will engage in team-based learning and experiences that will take you on a journey of self-discovery and build your leadership capacity.

– Michael Smith, LDO Coordinator


The goal of the Leadership Degree Option is to provide leadership development for future healthcare professionals in order to equip them with the knowledge, skills, and attitudes necessary to assume the roles of leaders, change agents, and advocates in an ever changing health care environment. The degree option consists of 10 didactic hours and 8 Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experience (APPE) hours. Four of the APPE hours must be completed on the OKC campus. Entry into the degree option is by application only and is competitive. Applications are accepted in the spring semester of the P2 year. All courses listed below are required for the Leadership Degree Option. 

For more information, contact Dr. Michael Smith

+ Acceptance into degree option is not required.
++ Acceptance into degree option is required.

  • Introduction to Mentoring +

    Explore the essential skills to be an effective mentor and leader. Each student is assigned a first-year student and charged with acting as their mentor; promoting a life-long commitment to developing others.

    Enrollment with instructors permission

  • Leadership in Pharmacy I +

    Engage in activities of self-discovery through a variety of “hands on” experiences and leadership assessment tools (Myers Briggs, Emotional Intelligence, Strengths Finder) and create and a personal development plan based on these assessments.

    Enrollment with instructor’s permission

  • Leadership in Pharmacy II +

    Prerequisite: Leadership in Pharmacy I

    Focus shifts to leading and being a member of a team. Explore organizational dynamics and engage in leadership projects. Complete the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument (TKI) and explore conflict resolution methods. Work through the five dysfunctions of a team while developing and implementing a leadership project.

    Enrollment with instructor’s permission

  • Pharmacy Business and Entrepreneurship +

    Explore the relationship between leadership and the advancement of pharmacy as a profession. Apply entrepreneurial practices to the development of a business plan for starting a new pharmacy.

  • Leadership in Action I ++

    Build on concepts learned in previous leadership courses and apply them to embracing change. Explore the necessity of an organization to implement a continuously changing environment.

    Work to develop the ability to lead people towards meeting an organization’s vision, mission and goals. Students will be given the opportunity to develop a constructive resolution to the conflicts associated with change using John P. Kotter’s 8-stage process for leading change.

  • Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experiences ++

    Two leadership focused one-month rotations during the fourth year of the Pharm.D. program.


  • Why did you join the leadership track?

    I wanted to make the best of my future and the future of those around me. I believed then, and still believe now, that this track would offer insight and opportunity into aspects of self-development as well as the development of others. This sort of development is incredibly important to a functioning, successful organization. Armed with a conviction for broadening my perspective, developing leadership skills, and the belief that I could not be the person I wanted to be without this sort of knowledge, joining the leadership track was a relatively easy decision. The leadership track offered structure and guidance that went beyond what I could find in a book or online resource.

    I joined the leadership track because to be an effective pharmacist I felt being an effective leader was critical. The track has helped me form better relationships both personal and professional. I would tell anyone looking at the leadership track to be prepared to work hard and to learn a great deal about yourself. The most beneficial thing about the leadership track for me was learning to set goals properly and work with a team to get those goals accomplished. We all know that working on a team can present tremendous challenges, but the skills I've acquired through the leadership track were instrumental in all of the team activities.

  • How did the leadership track help you professionally?

    The leadership track has helped me communicate more effectively with professionals by giving me opportunities to meet with influential leaders in the industry and pushing me to join events or organizations I am passionate about. It has also pushed me outside my comfort zone by helping me discover the ways I am able to influence, despite being an introvert. I know how to better manage conflict in team settings and how to build strong teams, which I know I will use daily in my professional life.

    The leadership degree option entails a number of assessments to help the students gain valuable introspective views into their own lives. Each assessment was a valuable tool in describing how I interact with others. Beyond the realization of my own tendencies, there was also an appreciated level of education on how to handle the varying personalities and styles of conflict. My confidence has grown significantly in working with people as a result of this degree option.

  • How has the leadership track helped you personally?

    I am a very different person than when I began the leadership track. This option gave me the opportunities and tools I needed to discover my potential and began to develop a vision for my life. Had I not enrolled in the track, I would have only caught glimpses of these things from taking the first electives. My confidence has grown, and my ability to lead is growing as well.

  • What was your individualized APPE rotation and what did you learn from this experience?

    My rotation was a volunteer experience at a non-profit in Oklahoma City. I was able to spend a lot of time with the founder of an organization helping marginalized women and refugee families in the area and learn the trials and tribulations as well as joys of being fully committed to non-profit work.

    My experience helped shape me with a clearer vision of what my future will hold as I pursue my calling of working with low-income families and children. I so appreciated the ongoing encouragement I received from Dr. Spies.

    I shadowed Mike Suwalski, a senior director of the product development and innovation team for Walgreens in Chicago. I saw the current projects he was working on and what was required for a project to trickle down into the pharmacies for Walgreens. Not only did I see what he worked on, but he also introduced me to people on different teams working on a prescription savings card, adherence, immunizations, etc. I spoke to each of them individually and saw what it took for them to be in their current positions. My final project was to sit in front of the leadership team and pitch a new program that they hope to see in Walgreens.

    My rotation was in Phoenix with the Be A Leader Foundation, a nonprofit organization. I worked with middle school and high school kids as they were taking the steps necessary to prepare themselves for college. After talking with Dean Wilson and Dr. Spies I realized my eventual goal in life was to start my own non-profit. By working at Be A Leader, a small organization with a huge impact, I realized that my goal is definitely attainable.

  • What have your employers said about your leadership?

    I worked at Oklahoma Children's Hospital for my two-week rotation this past summer. My preceptor called me into her office to review an evaluation she had done about my time spent working there. She reviewed my strengths and weaknesses and one of my strengths was leadership. One of her comments that stood out in my mind was this ... "I can definitely see you working in many different fields of pharmacy. However, I know that wherever you end up, you will be promoted to a leader/management position."

  • What would you advise a student looking at the leadership track?

    Anyone who has even a little bit of interest in pursuing leadership development will benefit from the leadership track. The amount of time and effort the professors and other leaders pour into your development is invaluable. The benefits of this track would be difficult to obtain at any other time in life after school. I would encourage everyone to give it a try and dive in totally with the track. The potential gain from the time investment is larger than you even deem possible.

    I encourage everyone to look at the leadership degree option for a variety of reasons. Employers value leadership, making this a very marketable skill set. More importantly, pharmacy needs people willing to step up and lead due to the constantly changing healthcare system. This degree option focuses on the fact that these skills can be built on and as with anything, the more you practice, the better you become.

    The leadership track is guaranteed to stretch you in capacities different than any other course at pharmacy school. It is sure to challenge you and exceed your expectations. The skill sets and knowledge learned through this track will help differentiate you to potential employer. I'm confident that upon completing this track, my classmates and I will be prepared and equipped with a toolset different from many of our colleagues. If you are curious about this course, take the first step and simply enroll.

    The results you see even within the first semester of leadership classes are worth every single second you invest. You come to pharmacy school expecting to be a pharmacist, but when you enter the leadership track your horizons broaden so much. You will graduate, not only as a pharmacist, but as an effective leader within the healthcare profession. You will have the tools you need to help optimize your patients' health.

    Do not discount the leadership track just because you don't hold any leadership positions in organizations. I think that is a common misconception students have about these classes. The focus of the track is more about working and communicating effectively with other people, which is very important in the pharmacy profession. Having all the drug knowledge in the world doesn't make a difference if you cannot effectively communicate it to someone, whether that is another health care professional or a patient.

  • What was the most beneficial thing you learned during the leadership track?

    It's definitely how to deal with other people. From learning about myself through the different assessments and seeing how accurate they are, I understood how important different personality types are in team projects. I have been fortunate in my life to be on many different teams, but I never realized how important it is to know my emotional intelligence, how I deal with conflict and how others deal with these issues as well. I never realized that dynamics within a team and the need to understand of differences were so important for success.

    I have learned is how to handle conflict in a healthy and positive way. I tend to avoid conflict whenever possible but since being in this track, I have learned how detrimental it can be to consistently practice this habit. The courses in this track have taught me to approach conflict in a healthy manner. I've learned how to recognize conflict styles in others in order to engage in a productive discussion.

    I have learned to think more about why people do and say the things they do. I have learned about different personality types, and how to view the world from beyond my own personal opinions.

    I have learned that positive relationships are crucial to the functioning of any group. To build relationships, it is important to understand that everyone functions a little differently and has different preferences in stressful situations. Having that basic knowledge goes a long way.
    What was your favorite project during the leadership track and why? Describe a positive experience working on projects during leadership.

    The First Year Initiative (FYI) was one of (if not the best) experiences I've had during my time at the college. Our cohorts created this leadership program, FYI, for new pharmacy students from the ground up. The program had three main parts: improve new student orientation, present monthly leadership lectures based on the "SERVANT" model, and provide a project for the students to take active leadership roles, which consisted of an all-campus benefit concert. Our mission was to encourage and provide opportunities for students to grow as leaders. We also served as mentors, and that is where I felt some of the most reward. My classmates and I were able to speak encouragement and help cast visions for our first-year students in daily conversations outside of class, much of the same way I have been encouraged in the leadership track.

    I really enjoyed working with other people to get a project going outside the school setting. It's rewarding to share an idea you have that can improve a community with someone else, and see that passion for you have for your idea transferred to them as well. You really want to see that project through to completion!

  • How has the leadership track prepared you for future career opportunities?

    I've become part of a tight-knit group of like-minded individuals that I believe I will be able to call upon for the rest of my life. They're my future work associates, my business partners; and, most importantly, my friends. Secondly, I have a skill-set and an experience that only a select few graduating from pharmacy school share. The training and background I received through the leadership track will definitely serve to help me in whatever career I pursue.

  • As a National Advisory Board member, why do you support the leadership track?

    "If pharmacy doesn't develop its own leaders, then who will provide the vision, infuse the energy, and develop the requisite relationships to demonstrate our value to the health care system?"
    – Travis Watson, National Advisory Board

    "Leadership at its core is about serving and advocating; much of what pharmacy is about as well. The two are very closely tied."
    – Josephine Li-McLeod, National Advisory Board