OPENING DAY AT THE MEDICAL College of Wisconsin-Green Bay has had drama and excitement with it and it’s been a smooth start up. Our first students began their studies July 1. They are doing early clinical introduction pieces of the curriculum, and some basic science refresher from their undergraduate training. Then they will jump right in on Aug. 1 with the full MCW curriculum.
They are four-year college graduates. We had 2,000 people apply, representing 18 undergraduate institutions, most from Wisconsin; we did 86 interviews and accepted 26 students.
Before joining the Medical College of Wisconsin I was a full-time family practice doctor in Illinois. I went to the University of Illinois at the Rockford regional campus and ran. The most recent project was to build a medical school with members of the southern part of Thailand. We built a school that is graduating 26 students a year. It made a huge impact on the health of the region. Much of what I did in Illinois is being replicated here.
A recent Wisconsin Hospital Association report suggested we needed to increase the training capacity about 100 positions per year to meet the unmet need. Even with two medical schools in the state, in much of the northern part of the state there is a shortage of primary care and psychiatric physicians. Those who tend to gravitate towards regional areas of practice in non-metro or non-urban areas tend to be people who trained in those locations that are from those locations. In fact, Green Bay was recently named one of the top 10 places in the United States for physicians and surgeons to practice.
A panel of about 50 local community members trained as medical school reviewers and interviewers screened the students. We want to make sure Green Bay and Northeast Wisconsin is a good fit for them because we want them to stay. We know from historic data that if a student does medical school and residency in Wisconsin, about 85 percent of them stay here to practice.
We developed the program here to be what’s called a calendar-efficient model. The program is a little over three years long, saving a year’s tuition of $50,000. They complete medical school here and then they go on to a three-year residency training in whatever specialty they choose.
We have a digital classroom, which provides quality lectures whether they originate in a local setting or from Milwaukee, as part of the basic science program. We also have University of Wisconsin-Green Bay and St. Norbert College professors teaching basic science. We have some simulation and inter-professional space in the lower level of Bellin College that we are using, as well technical training (such as ultrasounds) at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College. It is a community-wide partnership rather than a single-entity institution.
At St. Norbert College the students are able to access the student rooms, cafeteria and exercise centers. What that did is allow us to build a campus very efficiently, rather than spending $180 million building our own campus and basic science labs. In Milwaukee we have world-class medical research and genetic sequencing; we are not replicating those things here. Our Northeast Wisconsin location is really the complementary piece to our academic medical center, making sure we are not missing out on the rest of the state and ensuring the health of Wisconsin residents.