>>>> FAQ on medical-education expansion
Q: Does South Carolina need another medical school?
A: This is not a new medical school but an expansion of the existing University of South Carolina School of Medicine program to Greenville to better meet medical needs across the state. USC’s third- and fourth-year medical students have received clinical training at Greenville Hospital System (GHS) since 1991. This expansion will allow USC medical students to complete all four years of education and training in Greenville.
Q: How will South Carolina benefit from expanding medical education in Greenville?
A: South Carolina will benefit from the expansion of the USC medical program because it will help combat the state’s ongoing physician shortage. Studies show that South Carolina is already experiencing a physician shortage, and physicians often settle and practice where they train. Expanding physician education and training in Greenville where USC medical students have already been training for two decades increases the likelihood of keeping these physicians in South Carolina.
Q: Why not increase the size of the state’s two existing medical schools?
A: USC and Palmetto Health are exploring opportunities to increase the capacity of the USC School of Medicine Columbia, but expansion in Columbia alone would not be sufficient to meet the need. Medical education, unlike other forms of professional education, requires a large patient base in outpatient and hospital settings. The GHS patient base is growing significantly.
Q: Why is GHS seeking to increase physician productivity with USC, rather than one of the nearer Upstate universities, such as Clemson or Furman?
A: Neither Clemson nor Furman University offer MD programs. While both those universities have been important partners in numerous education and research endeavors, GHS’ partner for medical education has been the University of South Carolina since 1991. Expanding the existing partnership is the most efficient way to address those needs because a substantial infrastructure is already in place.
Q: Is it wise to initiate this expansion given current economic conditions?
A: This is a timely expansion of an already successful collaborative program. Expansion to a four-year medical school campus in Greenville promises to be a significant economic stimulus capable of enhancing the area’s knowledge-based economy. Since it will take many years to increase the physician workforce, we must move forward now and begin this endeavor.
Q: How can the state legislature provide recurring financial resources to a medical school campus in Greenville? Won’t this take money away from the other schools?
A: The current ten-year financial plan for the program does not anticipate public funds. In fact, substantial infrastructure, including an entire clinical faculty that is integrated with GHS’ University Medical Group, has already been established. In addition, a 98,000-square foot building intended to support education and research with USC is already built and would be up-fit to house the expanded medical program. A sound business plan is being developed to ensure support of the medical school campus.
Q: Would it make more sense to place resources behind the existing medical schools in Columbia and Charleston?
A: South Carolina has two outstanding medical schools. USC and Palmetto Health are exploring opportunities to work together to increase the capacity of the USC School of Medicine in Columbia. An expanded program at the Greenville campus will transform healthcare delivery statewide, and, with its mission of education, research and patient care, have a significant impact on health care in the state.
Q: Why not link MUSC, USC and the Greenville campus to create one university?
A: Each of these is a strong institution linked to its respective community and shaped by its broader role in the state. The USC School of Medicine and Greenville Hospital System collaboration does represent a linked model, now nearing a 20-year partnership. Similarly, the S.C. College of Pharmacy component in Greenville is a collaborative partnership with MUSC, USC and GHS.
Q: Why is GHS pursuing a medical school campus? As a hospital, shouldn’t GHS focus its resources on providing better access and quality care to patients in the Upstate instead of on medical education?
A: GHS is a public healthcare system responsible for the health and well-being of the region. An expanded medical education program will increase the supply of physicians, improve health care, and enhance the environment for innovation. It also advances efforts to retain physicians in the Upstate region and the state at large. A four-year medical program in Greenville will also allow the creation and implementation of a curriculum that emphasizes evidence-based medicine.
Q: How is GHS going to teach basic science courses in the first two years of medical school in Greenville?
A: Basic science faculty in specific content areas will be recruited and hired by the dean, and they will be USC employees, as will the dean.
Q: Why not just expand the GHS Graduate Medical Education program instead of expanding the medical school campus?
A: An expanded medical education program will emphasize primary care throughout all four years of medical education. Expanding the existing program to a four-year medical school campus in Greenville enhances our ability to influence, retain and place medical trainees in areas affected by shortages, such as primary care. In other words, as a practical, philosophical and economical matter, we will be contributing to getting doctors to help South Carolinians day by day in their local environments.
Q: Who will run this expanded program?
A: The expanded program will have a dean reporting to the provost at the University of South Carolina.
Q: With the new D.O program getting started in Spartanburg, are there enough qualified applicants to support this expanded program?
A: Each year, MUSC and the USC School of Medicine at Columbia turn away qualified applicants, who either must abandon their plans for medical education or leave the state for training. The nearly 20-year affiliation between USC and GHS has established a strong foundation for medical education in Greenville. That foundation, coupled with the resources of a flagship university recognized for its outstanding medical and health sciences programs, makes USCGHS an attractive choice for medical education.