An agreement between the College of Charleston and the Medical University of South Carolina College of Pharmacy has created the first formal program that will guarantee up to five incoming first-year College of Charleston students who plan to pursue a pharmacy career a place in the MUSC College of Pharmacy. It will also reduce by one year the time it takes to obtain a doctorate in pharmacy, according to a College of Charleston news release.
“It’s reassuring to have a guaranteed spot with the College of Pharmacy — as long as the requirements are met,” Karen Eippert, director of pre-professional health advising at the College of Charleston, said in the news release. “It’s a demanding course load, but for students who want a more abbreviated program and to reduce their overall student debt, it’s certainly a viable option.”
Through the program, students will spend their first three years at the College of Charleston majoring in biology, while also job shadowing to experience what it’s like to be a pharmacist, the release said. To confirm their interest in pharmacology, students are encouraged to intern as a pharmacy technician over the summer.
For the fourth year, students will transfer to MUSC, but will still be part of the College of Charleston. At the end of the fourth year, students will receive their bachelor’s degree and then continue on at MUSC for three more years to receive a Doctor of Pharmacy degree. During those three years, students will continually experience what it will be like to be a pharmacist, particularly in the final year when students work in various pharmacy settings, the release said.
The program is designed to take advantage of a strong relationship between the two institutions as it takes full advantage of the power of a liberal arts degree and high-quality medical research and education, the release said.
“This agreement builds upon an already strong relationship,” Dr. Philip Hall, dean of the College of Pharmacy at MUSC, said in the release. “We have always been impressed with the caliber of CofC students and typically have five to 10 students or graduates join us every year. Pharmacists are some of the most accessible health care professionals, so it is essential that they know how to speak with both patients and medical practitioners. MUSC places a heavy emphasis on interprofessional care, so we like that CofC students have strong science skills but also excellent communication skills.”
The accelerated degree comes at a time of high demand for pharmacists in rural areas, the release said.