Medical College to open pharmacy school in 2017 or 2018

The Medical College of Wisconsin announced on Monday that it plans to open a school of pharmacy in existing space at the Wauwatosa campus in the summer of 2017 or 2018.

Sixty students are expected in each class, and MCW is currently undergoing a national search for a founding dean with the assistance of the Boston recruiting firm Isaacson, Miller. Around 21 to 24 full-time employees are also anticipated to be hired depending on whether the program will be three or four years.

The development of the new school is intended to address an overall need for highly qualified pharmacists who can provide expanded services as part of a health care team, as well as to address pharmacist maldistribution in underserved communities in Wisconsin.

“MCW possesses the expertise and experience to train the next generation of health care professionals in specialty practices such as pharmacogenomics, pediatrics, cancer and mental health,” said Dr. John Raymond, president and chief executive officer of the Medical College. “Interprofessional training with our medical students and early clinical exposure will further add value to the pharmacy school at MCW.

“The next generation pharmacist will be trained to provide expanded services in medication monitoring, immunizations, health screenings, chronic disease management, acute ambulatory care and specialty pharmacy care.  Changes in health care are transforming how physicians, nurses, pharmacists and other health professionals work together to achieve improved health while advancing the values of the Triple Aim of health care: lower cost, better value, better care.”   

The school’s total startup cost is estimated to be around $30 million over five years. MCW’s Advancing a Healthier Wisconsin Endowment will provide $3 million for initial design and development.

The school of pharmacy will offer specialty tracks aligned with health needs such as pediatrics, psychiatry, cancer, pharmacogenomics and medical toxicology.

“This endeavor will be enhanced by the engagement of our hospital partners, our pediatric and adult practices, and our community partners, as well as our expertise in research and education,” said Dr. Joseph Kerschner, executive vice president of MCW and dean of the school of medicine.

The idea of partnership was also emphasized by Paula Lucey, a nurse and chair of the MCW Consortium on Public and Community Health, who attended MCW’s press conference on Monday.

“I believe that nurses, doctors, pharmacists and all health care professionals in the future must be able to collaborate, communicate and work together in order to provide high quality patient care,” Lucey said. “The MCW school of pharmacy will help increase access to health care, as well as provide quality care.”

Along with Lucey, city of Milwaukee health commissioner Bevan Baker said the key to overcoming health challenges is partnership. Additionally, he said the school of pharmacy will make the region more attractive to students.

“This is an investment in the city, county and state,” he said at the press conference.

MCW’s board of trustees approved the school of pharmacy on Friday.

Raymond said MCW began envisioning the pharmacy school five years ago, and it has been working to develop it for the last two.

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