L'Université de Moncton is hoping to offer New Brunswick's first pharmacy program, beginning in September 2015.
It would be the only French-language pharmacy program offered in Canada, outside of Quebec, and could help retain pharmacists in New Brunswick, said academic vice-president Neil Boucher.
But "the initiative is more in its embryonic state than its final stages," he said.
The university still needs approval from Health Canada to move forward, said Boucher.
"And we're of course awaiting results from grants that we have asked for via Health Canada."
The new program would be a partnership between l'Université de Moncton and the University of Ottawa.
'Pharmacists that have been trained in New Brunswick, that are francophone, will stay in New Brunswick.'—Neil Boucher, academic vice-president
Under the proposed plan, 12 students would be accepted each year into a two-year pre-pharmacy program, which would be followed by a four-year pharmacy program, said Boucher.
Students would be enrolled at the University of Ottawa but would complete most of their work on the Université de Moncton campus, he said.
There is currently a shortage of francophone pharmacists in Ontario and in New Brunswick, especially on the Acadian Peninsula, said Boucher.
Training pharmacists in the province is the best way to retain them, he said.
"Pharmacists that have been trained in New Brunswick, that are francophone, will stay in New Brunswick," Boucher said.
"That's the whole idea behind this because the last year of the program, the fourth year, is the practicum year and the practicum would be done in the place of origin of the students as a way to entice students to stay within the province."
Medical school has proven model can work
Boucher said the medical school at l'Université de Moncton has shown that this kind of a partnership can work.
That program is a joint project between the Université de Sherbrooke and the Université de Moncton, with the Quebec school issuing the degrees and hospitals in Moncton providing much of the training.
It started back in 2006 and is the only Canadian medical program offered entirely in French outside of Quebec.
"The amount of graduates that go through the Sherbrooke program at Moncton, I think the retention rate in the province of New Brunswick is something like 95 per cent ... and we are aiming for that type of paradigm to enhance the pharmaceutical profession in New Brunswick," said Boucher.