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Meeting state’s need for more health providers

Partners from Green Bay and Central Wisconsin gathered at the Medical College in August for a day of team-building and knowledge-sharing toward the development of community medical education programs in their communities.

In the next 20 years, Wisconsin faces a significant shortage of physicians, particularly in primary care in rural and urban underserved areas, according to extensive studies by the Wisconsin Hospital Association, the Association of American Medical Colleges, and the Wisconsin Office of Rural Health.

“The Medical College of Wisconsin is deeply committed to developing a community medical education program that addresses the need for more primary care physicians and health care providers in underserved communities across Wisconsin,” said John R. Raymond, Sr., MD, Medical College President and CEO.

As envisioned, the program would employ an immersive teaching model in which medical students receive their education and training in Wisconsin communities, with the goal of students remaining in the communities to practice. The immersive model is a strong predictor of success in retaining physicians, according to data which shows that 80% of students from Wisconsin who complete both medical school and residency training in Wisconsin stay here to practice.

In 2012, Medical College leaders contacted more than 25 community medical education programs around the U.S., studied national models and best practices, and visited leaders of 21 Wisconsin health systems and academic institutions. Comprehensive feasibility analyses were conducted in regions of Wisconsin considered for establishment of a community-based program.

In June 2012, the Medical College selected Green Bay and Central Wisconsin as locations for the first two community medical education program campuses. Both regions possess strong health systems with outstanding physicians and established programs for student clinical experiences, quality academic institutions with a scientific program infrastructure, enthusiastic civic and business engagement, and a strong readiness to proceed.

The development phase of the program is now underway with funding from the Research and Education Program of the Medical College’s Advancing a Healthier Wisconsin endowment. The goal is to admit the first group of 15 medical students at each of the new campuses as early as July 2015. Collaboration is a centerpiece of the community medical education initiative, as the Medical College is engaging physician practices, county medical societies, academic and health system leaders, local government, and business and civic leaders in the Green Bay and Central Wisconsin regions to assist in planning the program. Collaboration is cost-effective, as start-up expenses are greatly reduced by sharing existing facilities and resources of the regional partners in lieu of new construction.

Milestones to be achieved include curriculum development, accreditation, funding, governance structure, faculty recruitment and development, creation of additional residency training positions, and formalization of agreements with local health care systems and academic institutions.

“This is a transformative program that will ultimately benefit the health of Wisconsin citizens for generations to come,” Dr. Raymond said.

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Page Updated 12/13/2012