Expanding Osteopathic Medical Education in Michigan

05-22-2007

The decision Friday by MSU’s Board of Trustees to expand osteopathic medical education in Michigan by enrolling an additional 50 students at each of two sites in southeast Michigan reflects this university’s core values—quality, inclusiveness, and connectivity—and our land-grant tradition of serving the citizens of this state.

Although MSU originally considered expanding by only 50 students at one site, the proposals and the enthusiasm from both Macomb Community College (MCC) and Detroit Medical Center (DMC) were so strong—and the need for doctors in this state so great—that it become clear adding two sites was the right thing to do.

The strengths of the two locations are complementary. MCC offers a vibrant educational milieu, and DMC provides an active medical milieu. The suburban/urban differences of the sites will appeal to an array of osteopathic students as well as provide a spectrum of educational, cultural, and voluntarism opportunities.

Michigan faces a looming physician shortage. The Blue Ribbon Committee on Physician Workforce projects Michigan will be 900 physicians short by 2010, 2,400 short by 2015, and 4,500 short by 2020.

Michigan State is uniquely positioned to alleviate this shortage. Our College of Osteopathic Medicine has been ranked by U.S. News & World Report as the top osteopathic college in the nation for primary care for seven years running and is ranked fifth among all medical schools (M.D. and D.O.) for primary care education. The 160 students on the college’s alternate list each year have MCAT scores and GPAs as high as those we admit. And most students the college has to turn away are Michigan residents.

So when we expand the entering class of the College of Osteopathic Medicine from 205 to 305 in summer 2008 or 2009, depending on how quickly construction, renovation, and accreditation tasks can be completed, MSU will expand the pipeline for doctors going through one of the best primary care programs in the country. That’s quality.

Michigan residents make up 85 percent of the college’s student population, and about 90 percent of College of Osteopathic Medicine graduates take internships and residencies in Michigan, contributing significantly to the quality of care and to the economic vitality of the state as federal dollars flow to the hospitals that train them. Further, more than two-thirds of the college’s doctors stay in Michigan to practice, serving nearly all of the state’s counties. No other medical school in the state comes close to these numbers in terms of retaining doctors in the state.

In considering where to expand the College of Osteopathic Medicine, MSU’s core values of inclusiveness and connectivity, as well as the college’s history, were important considerations. The college has been teaching students, interns, and residents in southeast Michigan for nearly 40 years, and there was great enthusiasm from the osteopathic community, city and county leaders, state legislators, and our hospital partners for us to expand our reach there.

All proposals for us to locate in southeast Michigan were initiated by the communities themselves, and there was a great desire for our involvement. As a land-grant institution, we are rooted in outreach and service to communities across the state. We listened to the people of southeast Michigan and to the medical community who invited us to be part of their communities, to help raise the quality of medical care, and to help offset the physician shortage in this most densely populated area of the state where many vulnerable populations live. That’s connectivity.

Locating in southeast Michigan also affords us the opportunity to enrich our students’ experience by teaching them in areas with more diverse and often medically underserved populations. With roots in these areas, they may choose to do clinical rotations, and possibly residencies as well, there. This is important, because the location of residency is the single most predictive factor for where physicians choose to practice. We took social responsibility into account as we considered our options. That’s inclusiveness.

There are some, including our sister University Research Corridor school Wayne State University, who have raised concerns about our presence at DMC. I believe these concerns are based primarily on misperceptions stemming from the differences between the osteopathic (D.O.) educational model and the allopathic (M.D) educational model. They are quite different, with different cost structures and different patterns of placing students in clinical rotation. Detailed information on the models and other information addressing Wayne State’s concerns has been added to the College of Osteopathic Medicine Web site.

This expansion truly is a win-win for the state of Michigan, its citizens, and our partners. We will continue to listen and address concerns, and in the spirit of the University Research Corridor, work together to ensure a win-win for all.

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