Educating Future Pharmacists, Other Healthcare Professionals

Dr. Renee Coffman is the president and co-founder of Roseman University, which offers Colleges of Pharmacy; Nursing and Dental Medicine; an MBA program; and has more than 1,000 students attending.She holds a pharmacy degree from Ohio Northern University and her doctorate in industrial and physical pharmacy from Purdue University.

Growing up in a small rural community in Ohio, Dr. Coffman credits her family for influencing her two career choices: pharmacist and educator. “I became interested in pharmacy through my great-uncle who owned an old-fashioned pharmacy with a soda fountain. It was a great small-town pharmacy where the pharmacist knew just about everyone, and was someone who people went to not only for their prescriptions, but also someone who listened to people and someone who was trusted for advice about health and medicines,” she said.

“(Also) I was always interested in being an educator. My mother was a first-grade teacher for over 20 years and I always enjoyed helping my classmates and teaching others. I’ve always felt a sense of pride in being able to explain difficult concepts and theories in a manner that helps students really understand,” Dr. Coffman said.

Roseman University began with the idea from founder Dr. Harry Rosenberg that pharmacy education could be more effective by developing a curriculum (which is still in use today) that rather than semesters or quarters, the curriculum is organized into blocks. The single course schedule allows students to focus on each individual topic and also emphasizes active participation in the learning process by incorporating a variety of hands-on activities in addition to the traditional lecture format.

According to Dr. Coffman, Dr. Rosenberg is her most influential mentor. “His philosophies on education and his style of management are something I’ve drawn on daily throughout my career in healthcare education,” she said.

In fact, Dr. Rosenberg was such an influence, she married him and said that one of the most important things her husband taught her is that whether it’s a student in a classroom or an employee, no one walks in hoping to fail. “If you’re an educator or if you’re in a position of authority in a work environment, your main focus is really simple—it’s to help that individual succeed. That idea has really crystallized with me and I strive every day to ensure that my students can succeed in the classroom and that people who work for Roseman have opportunity to succeed in their jobs,” she said.

As for advice for women entering the work force, Dr. Coffman believes, “Have confidence in your abilities, but don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. Have the courage to take action when necessary, but don’t be afraid to ask questions so that you have as much information as possible to make good decisions. Be who you are—don’t feel that you need to reject motherly instincts such as being nurturing and caring to succeed. Being kind, caring and genuine will serve you well whether you’re starting out on the bottom rung or whether you’re the CEO.”

Outside of work, she is devoted to her husband and daughter. Most of that time is spent as a soccer mom since her daughter Leili plays on a competitive travelling team, which means practice, private training sessions, games and tournament weekends both in Las Vegas and out-of-town.

Dr. Coffman believes that Southern Nevada was the perfect place to be able to start a higher education institution focused on the education and training of health care professionals and there will continue to be a need for well-educated health care professionals. Dr. Coffman will continue to educate those professionals and demonstrate why she is a Fearless Female.