Midway, West Virginia colleges plan to join forces for pharmacy program in Paintsville

Kentucky's Midway College is planning to go into business with the University of Charleston, allowing the West Virginia school to operate a pharmacy program at Midway's new building in Paintsville.

Last week, Midway and UC officials signed a letter of intent to house the UC program in Midway's campus in Paintsville.

Midway had planned for several years to open a pharmacy program at the site to help ease a pharmacist shortage in Eastern Kentucky, but the search for a dean and the accreditation process had held up the plans.

"With every different bump, there are other cost considerations," Midway spokeswoman Ellen Gregory said. "The board decided this was in the best interest for all involved to realize this dream of having a pharmacy school in Paintsville."

The agreement is going through a 60-day period of due diligence before final approval. If that happens, the program would start in January 2013.

UC opened a pharmacy program in Charleston in 2004, and the program — fully accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education — now has 290 students. The ACPE would have to approve the new program as well.

Midway had about 15 faculty and staff ready to start its program; they will have to reapply for jobs with UC.

Midway had accepted about 70 students, but they also will have to reapply to UC. All application fees to Midway will be reimbursed, Gregory said.

The Paintsville program will have about 50 students starting out, said Jennie Ferretti, spokeswoman for UC. But students may apply to UC for pharmacy school in Paintsville or Charleston with the application fee waived.

When the program is at full strength, it will have about 200 students.

The new school will award four-year, post-graduate pharmacy degrees. The new name will be a mouthful: the Perry Center for Pharmacy Education at the University of Charleston School of Pharmacy at the Midway College Paintsville Campus. It's named for late Midway donor Chad Perry.

"From day one, the mission has been to prepare pharmacists to meet the needs of rural West Virginia and the Appalachian region," Edwin Welch, president of the University of Charleston, said in a statement. "This potential expansion is a continuation of that interest."

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