Leader of VCU School of Pharmacy at UVA seeks to further collaboration and boost enrollment
By Leah Small
For VCU School of Pharmacy
Robert Guanci, Pharm.D., assistant dean for the VCU School of Pharmacy at UVA Division and chief pharmacy officer for the UVA Health System, stepped into those roles in August 2021, having served in an interim capacity since 2019. In this Q&A he shares his vision for the educational partnership in pharmacy between VCU and UVA and what students can gain from the cross-campus collaboration.
Guanci started his career in management of hospital systems within the state of Virginia at a Sentara Healthcare system hospital in Virginia Beach, as a pharmacy director, and then rose to managing multiple departments within the facility. He founded Sentara Rx in 2000 as a long-term-care pharmacy operating as part of the Sentara system, then launched an independent company, Rx Solutions Inc., before a 10-year tenure as vice president of operations at Bon Secours. He followed that with a stint as the chief operating officer of Chesapeake Regional Healthcare system. Guanci then managed senior living operations for CVS Pharmacy before returning to his passion – working in hospital systems and acute care – when he was hired for his current role at UVA. He earned his B.S. in pharmacy from Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, his MBA from William & Mary and his Pharm.D. from University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.
VCU SoP News: What strengths do you bring to your role as assistant dean for the VCU School of Pharmacy UVA Division?
Guanci: The experiences I have had cut across quite a few of the spectrums within pharmacy leadership and pharmacy operations, and that gives me a deep and broad breadth of knowledge that I can share with colleagues and learners on campus.
What can VCU’s pharmacy students expect from the program?
We have a dedicated location on the UVA campus, and both VCU and UVA students can attend real-time and virtual lectures at either university. Both VCU and UVA students receive preferential treatment in UVA Pharmacy rotations, and we have a rotation in every aspect of pharmacy operations. The preceptors and program directors that we have in our residency programs have begun teaching classes across VCU, and UVA students and our preceptors are benefitting from the educational opportunities that VCU provides our pharmacists and program directors on the UVA campus. The partnership maximizes the brain power available to our learners, staff and clinical pharmacists, and offers a broad array of talent across multiple specialties that we can expose any interested learner to.
What is your vision for growing and improving the VCU-UVA partnership?
I aim for the leaders at UVA to have goals and objectives that are aligned with the VCU School of Pharmacy, which I think would allow the entities to be more coordinated and better achieve organizational expectations. The universities renewed the partnership agreement for five years in October and we have a new pharmacy education and graduate programs coordinator, Katelyn Hipwell, Pharm.D., who is on the front line with the students. Katelyn works very closely with each of our learners to assist them in achieving their individual goals including acceptance into a residency program.
We also aim to increase our student enrollment. One of the challenges pharmacy has faced throughout the country has been decreased enrollments in pharmacy schools the last few years in general. At VCU and UVA, hopefully we can get back on a growth curve.
I am extremely optimistic that the relationship between VCU and UVA will continue to prosper and grow, and I am excited about the future.