ACP, SWVHEC Announce Partnership to Offer ACP Classes at Higher Ed Center

ABINGDON, VA (December 15, 2022) –A memorandum of understanding between the Appalachian College of Pharmacy (ACP) and the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center (SWVHEC) marking the official start of a partnership which will see ACP classes offered at the Higher Ed Center in addition to being offered at the college’s Oakwood campus was formally signed Thursday.

ACP officials, including President Mickey McGlothlin and Provost and Dean Susan Mayhew, were in attendance for the official signing at the center, along with SWVHEC Agency Head David Matlock. ACP offers the Commonwealth’s only accelerated three-year program leading to a Doctor of Pharmacy degree.

A cohort of approximately 20 students will be chosen to participate in the distance learning initiative provided through the partnership. Current students completing their first year of pharmacy school will be given the opportunity in February to apply for the distance learning option and if selected, will begin classes at the Abingdon, Va.-based facility in the Fall of 2023.

“We are excited to partner with the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center on this initiative,” said ACP Dean Susan Mayhew. “The center was selected as the location for ACP’s off-campus site because of its successful record of serving other colleges and universities, as well as for its proximity to the Interstate 81 (I-81) corridor and the communities along the Virginia, Tennessee and North Carolina borders.”

Mayhew noted the state-of-the-art facility offers a robust and experienced IT team along with cutting edge equipment to support the delivery of synchronous and asynchronous instruction.

“The Abingdon region currently serves as a teaching hub for experiential education rotations with several full-time ACP faculty members based in the area,” Mayhew added.

“The Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center is excited to embark on this new chapter with the Appalachian College of Pharmacy,” said David Matlock, SWVHEC Agency Head. “Our partnership symbolizes the center’s continued commitment to advance educational and economic opportunities in Southwest Virginia.

“The addition of the Doctor of Pharmacy program through the Appalachian College of Pharmacy builds on the foundation of current health-related programs already offered at the Higher Education Center, including Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), Master of Science Family Nurse Practitioner (MSN), Doctor of Nurse Anesthesia (DNP), and Bachelor of Science Medical Laboratory Sciences (BS),” he added.

“For more than 30 years, the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center has been helping people in southwest Virginia transform their lives by harnessing the power of education,” Matlock said, noting the center is the first multi-college and university institution of higher education in the Commonwealth.  

The center was established as a state agency in 1991 and partners with public and private colleges and universities to provide degree programs, certificates and professional development courses.

“We’re excited to welcome the Appalachian College of Pharmacy to the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center on the campus of Virginia Highlands Community College,” said Adam Hutchison, Virginia Highlands Community College president. “Because of ACP’s accelerated format, students can start at Virginia Highlands and transfer seamlessly to a Doctor of Pharmacy program, completing most of their coursework in one location. This is an excellent example of institutions working together for students and the community and I look forward to seeing our graduates complete their Doctor of Pharmacy degree through this partnership.”

Mayhew noted the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE) has completed a site visit at the Abingdon Center. The ACPE board will meet next month at which time it is expected formal approval for the off-campus offerings will be made.

The new program will see all ACP students complete the first three terms of the curriculum in person on the Oakwood campus prior to matriculation to the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center for completion of the didactic curriculum.

“This format will allow incoming students the opportunity to get to know their classmates, campus-based faculty and staff; as well as the opportunity to be oriented and engaged with student support services, student organization and outreach initiatives prior to the transition,” Mayhew said.

A set of criteria to select students as eligible to participate in the program has been developed and takes into account, among other things, academic standing, faculty recommendations and geographical need or interest of the student.

Curriculum will be delivered to students at both the center and on the Oakwood campus using in-person and synchronous video conferencing that allows for real-time interaction between students and faculty. The majority of the content will continue to be delivered in person from the Oakwood campus, with a small percentage being delivered from the Abingdon site. Faculty will provide skills training to students at both sites, while pharmaceutics laboratory training will occur at the Oakwood campus.

“The distance site will provide students within the Appalachian region more flexible learning opportunities, a broadened footprint for outreach activities and expanded inter-professional education opportunities with other health disciplines currently at the center,” Mayhew said.

She noted the implementation of a distance site at the center aligns with goals outlined in the ACP’s Strategic Plan, including to:

  • Utilize an innovative recruitment program that will attract qualified students to the college with an emphasis on recruitment from the Appalachian region.
  • Enhance and expand the campus and its facilities to allow for future growth of new or exciting programs.
  • Develop new or non-traditional educational programs as feasible.
  • Support and enhance inter-professional education and collaborative practice models that measure patient outcomes in rural and underserved areas, particularly in Appalachia.
  • Increase the number and type of continuing education opportunities.
  • Provide professional development opportunities for faculty and staff.

“We look forward to beginning this new chapter with the higher education center and to all the opportunities for growth it affords to ACP and to the higher ed center,” Mayhew said.

ABOUT THE APPALACHIAN COLLEGE OF PHARMACY: The Appalachian College of Pharmacy is the only three-year Doctor of Pharmacy program in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Founded in 2003, the college accepted its first students in 2005. It is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE) and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). Its mission is to cultivate a learning community committed to education, community outreach and the professional development of pharmacists. Its graduate pharmacists are now practicing throughout the United States.

ABOUT THE SOUTHWEST VIRGINIA HIGHER EDUCATION CENTER: The Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center (Higher Education Center), located in Abingdon, Virginia, is the first multi-college and university institution of higher education in the Commonwealth. Established as a State Agency in 1991, the Higher Education Center partners with public and private colleges and universities to provide degree programs, certificates, and professional development courses. The mission of the Higher Education Center is to strengthen the regional economy of Southwest Virginia by preparing its citizens for jobs of the 21st Century.

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