In 1973, the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education and the State Legislature authorized the university to apply for a grant from the Veterans Administration to assist in the development of the medical school. The grant was approved the following year.
Faculty recruitment and curriculum planning began in 1975, and in 1976 the School of Medicine received provisional accreditation from the Liaison Committee on Medical Education of the American Medical Association and the Association of American Medical Colleges. In February 1977, the school was granted approval for admission of its first class of 24 medical students that fall.
The charter class graduated in May 1981, when the School of Medicine in Columbia was fully accredited by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education. Medical student class size has qaudrupled since the entrance of the first class, and today almost 400 medical students are enrolled in our four-year program.
Growing the Graduate Program
The School of Medicine’s education programs were further augmented by the establishment of a handful of graduate programs.
- Ph.D. Program in Biomedical Science in 1981
- Master of Science Program in Genetic Counseling in 1985
- Master’s Program in Nurse Anesthesia in 1994
- University’s Master’s Program in Rehabilitation Counseling was transferred to the School of Medicine in 1994.
- Master’s Program in Biomedical Science was initiated in 1998
- Physician Assistant Program in January 2017
Residency programs are co-sponsored with Palmetto Health, the Dorn Veterans Administration Medical Center and the South Carolina Department of Mental Health. A residency program in preventive medicine and fellowships in several clinical specialties are offered by the School of Medicine and/or affiliated hospital departments.
- Emergency medicine
- Family practice
- General surgery
- Internal medicine
- Obstetrics and gynecology
- General and child/adolescent psychiatry
- Orthopaedic surgery and pediatrics
The School of Medicine’s basic science campus is located four miles from the Columbia campus of the University of South Carolina on the Dorn VA Hospital campus, in a complex of fully-renovated historic buildings. The complex provides teaching and research facilities that are some of the best in the nation. Most clinical departments are located on the Richland Medical Park campus in central Columbia.
Affiliated hospitals are Palmetto Health (including Palmetto Health Richland and Palmetto Health Baptist), the Dorn Veterans Administration Medical Center, the Greenville Hospital System University Medical Center, the Lexington Medical Center and facilities of the South Carolina Department of Mental Health.
Florence Regional Campus
In 2015, the School of Medicine launched it's Florence Regional Campus. This program gives our third and fourth year medical students the opportunity to live and learn in Florence, to get many opportunities to learn side-by-side with attending physicians and to increase their knowledge of rural medicine. This program is part of the school's mission to decrease the shortage of primary care physicians in rural parts of South Carolina.
Integrated Ultrasound Curriculum
Continuing our tradition of innovation in medical education, the University of South Carolina School of Medicine has become a national leader in primary care medical education and was one of the first medical schools in the country to integrate ultrasound technology in all four years of the medical curriculum.
All students are given the opportunity to participate in a variety of community outreach activities that are focused on developing patient communication skills and basic exam proficiency, including a yearly student-hosted community health fair and a nationally recognized Senior Mentor Program that pairs medical students with community elders.
We also fulfill our mission to provide quality health care to the people of South Carolina through the Palmetto Health-USC Medical Group, which is comprised of nearly 700 physicians and advanced care providers. From the Department of Neurology’s clinically advanced stroke care and research to the recognized quality-focused health care model of the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine/Palmetto Health Family Medicine Center, we are addressing the future of patient-centered care today. In fact, we are a leader among U.S. medical schools in percentage of graduates who practice primary care.