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Medical school looking for site

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GINA R. HEINE
February 2, 2012
— The Janesville and Beloit area is among eight locations the Medical College of Wisconsin is considering for a community-based medical education program designed to address Wisconsin’s impending physician shortage.

The private college in Milwaukee is studying the feasibility of placing a community-based medical school focused on primary care medicine in one or more locations in the state. Curriculum would focus on practicing in rural or urban areas that are underserved.


Administrators are hoping to complete the studies by the end of March and focus on one or two sites by spring or early summer, said Dick Katschke, associate vice president for public affairs.


The goal is to launch the first program as early as 2014 and no later than 2015.


Other regions under consideration are: Fox River Valley (Appleton, Oshkosh, Fond du Lac) Green Bay, Eau Claire, La Crosse, north central Wisconsin (Wausau, Stevens Point, Marshfield), northwest Wisconsin and Racine/Kenosha.


The Wisconsin Hospital Association projects that the state will need to add 100 physicians annually to avoid a shortfall of 2,000 physicians by 2030.


In this region, the southwestern counties of Grant, Iowa and Lafayette have been federally designated as physician shortage areas.


The goal for the program is to partner with local colleges and universities, local health systems and local government, Katschke said.


Doctors in Janesville or Beloit, for example, could be among the instructors, and students would be on clinical rotations within the local health care facilities, he said. The college also will be studying the expertise available at local universities with the potential that professors could teach some basic science courses, he said.


A typical medical school program is four years, and the plan would be to have students complete all four years in the community along with a residency, he said.


“The reality is wherever you do your residency training is the best predictor of where you’re going to practice medicine,” he said.


“One of the things we’d be looking at in the process is the enthusiasm and commitment of local hospitals/health systems to develop residency programs,” he said. “It’s not enough if we offered medical education in the Janesville area but then have no residency positions.”


The average medical student graduates with $150,000 of debt, he said, so the college also is looking at possibly developing a 3.5-year model to cut tuition costs.



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