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Midway College officials debut plans to open Pharmacy school in Johnson County

By: Angela Sparkman Email
By: Angela Sparkman Email

A new pharmacy school in the Big Sandy is expected to create new jobs and bring in millions to the local economy.

Midway College officials announced they will build the new facility in Paintsville in Johnson County.

The community cheered a new pharmacy school coming to Eastern Kentucky that is expected to help both healthcare and the economy.

The school will open in the fall of 2011.

"Being able to stay home and go to a pharmacy school is amazing." John Cybriwsky, a senior at Paintsville High School said.

The goal is to get more pharmacists in Appalachia. Officials say the region does not have enough to meet the demand and worry the problem will get worse with many pharmacists nearing retirement and an aging population creating a bigger need.

"When one looks at the current number of pharmacists needed, we're going to need just a third more to service the needs." Dr. William Drake, Jr., the President of Midway College said.

"This will certainly fill that gap. It won't be an end to the problem but it will certainly be part of the solution." Johnson County Judge Executive Tucker Daniel said.

It will create 100 new jobs and is expected to bring 30 million dollars to the economy.

The school will temporarily be in the Mayo Campus of the Big Sandy Community and Technical College, but Midway officials say they will build their own campus in Johnson County.

The school will take 80 students per year, up to 320 total.

"Being able to attend a local pharmacy school here and give back to my community is amazing." Sarah Fraim, a senior at Paintsville High School said.

The school is expected to cost 20 million dollars to start-up.

Midway officials are asking for ARC money to help fund the school and state lawmakers plan to ask for money to help with student scholarships.

Tuition is expected to be 31 thousand dollars.

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PAINTSVILLE, Ky. (AP) A small college in Kentucky's bluegrass region rolled out plans Monday to reach into Appalachia to open a pharmacy school, vying for a role in solving a nagging problem filling pharmacist jobs in the state.

Midway College officials said the pharmacy school is set to open in August 2011 in Paintsville, about two hours from the college's main campus nestled in thoroughbred country between Frankfort and Lexington.

Its four-year pharmacy program will enroll up to 80 students per year, with a maximum enrollment of 320 when fully operational. Midway College President William B. Drake Jr. called the projected $20 million startup venture one of the biggest decisions ever for the private college whose roots predate the Civil War.

"We're going to specifically focus on students from Appalachia initially, and then from Kentucky," Drake said in an interview. "Because our whole goal in this is to provide pharmacists for Appalachia."

Kentucky has pharmacy schools at the University of Kentucky and at Sullivan University in Louisville.
n October 2009, only Wisconsin, Alabama, Texas and West Virginia had higher difficulty filling open pharmacist positions than Kentucky, according to the Aggregate Demand Index, a survey sponsored by the Pharmacy Manpower Project. Kentucky was tied for fifth with Missouri, North Carolina and North Dakota.

"Kentucky has been consistently above the national level in the difficulty in filling open pharmacist positions," said Katherine Knapp, project director of the index and dean of the Touro University California College of Pharmacy.

Kentucky House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, said the new school "holds a lot of potential" and praised Midway College's "willingness to do what it can to fill a need, no matter where that might be."

Midway has already hired a dean for the pharmacy school and is interviewing for faculty positions, Drake said. Tuition hasn't been set but is projected to be about $31,000 a year.

The pharmacy school will employ about 100 full- and part-time faculty and staff. Drake projected the school will generate more than $30 million in economic activity in the Paintsville area each year.

Tucker Daniel, the judge-executive of Johnson County, where Paintsville is the county seat, said the pharmacy school will be "a huge asset" to the area and beyond. Planning for the school showed a "huge need" for pharmacists in eastern Kentucky, he said, and the new school will help fill that gap.

The school will be located temporarily on the Mayo Campus of the Big Sandy Regional and Technical Center in Paintsville until a permanent campus is created, school officials said.

Drake said the college has plans for an approximately 60,000-square-foot building that will feature classrooms, laboratories and auditorium. The college doesn't have plans for dorms in Paintsville.

Midway will seek funding support from the Appalachian Regional Commission, Drake said. The school also has received private donations and Daniel said Johnson County Fiscal Court has committed $400,000 in local economic development funding.

The University of Kentucky's highly ranked College of Pharmacy recently began moving to its new $134 million, 286,000-square-foot building on its Lexington campus. Classes begin in the new building on Tuesday.

UK enrolls 513 pharmacy students, most of them coming from across Kentucky. UK's pharmacy college was ranked fifth in the latest U.S. News & World Report's survey of pharmacy programs.

Sullivan University, a private school, opened its College of Pharmacy in 2008 with a class of 74 students and expects to reach its maximum enrollment of 100 students per class in 2011, said dean Hieu Tran.

At Midway, the pharmacy school opening is the latest expansion effort. The college hopes to increase its enrollment from 1,800 to 4,000 by 2014. It has a women's-only day college on its main campus in Midway, Ky., and has co-educational evening programs, coed day programs at other locations and an online program.

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