IU completing regional medical school expansions

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MUNCIE, Ind. (AP) - All of Indiana University’s eight regional medical schools will be offering the full four years of physician training once that program expands to Muncie this summer.

The IU School of Medicine’s other seven regional programs have already started providing the third and fourth years of medical training.

The regional programs aim to keep primary care doctors in smaller communities by developing deeper ties than if they finish their training at the medical school’s main campus in Indianapolis, said J. Matthew Neal, executive medical director for academic affairs at IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital.

“This way, students who want to stay here have an opportunity to do so and remain in the community,” Neal told The Star Press (http://tspne.ws/1ftDYKy ).

IU has operated a two-year program in Muncie since 1971. The Muncie program’s enrollment will increase from 48 to 64 after the expansion.

The Indianapolis medical school has about 850 students, while the largest of the regional programs have about 80 students, according to IU officials.

The other regional medical programs are in Gary, West Lafayette, South Bend, Fort Wayne, Terre Haute, Evansville and Bloomington. Those regional programs have long offered the first two years of medical education, while the next two years are mainly patient care rotations working with doctors.

All medical students completed those final years through the Indianapolis campus until the regional program expansions began in recent years, according to school officials.

Second-year medical student Jareau Cordell said he welcomed being able to complete his medical training in Muncie.

“Staying here (for four years) would be a positive, because of the one-on-one environment at Ball Hospital,” Cordell said. “Going to Indy you rotate with multiple doctors. You have multiple students on a team. Whereas here it would be very one-on-one, very kind of personalized attention.”

The state Legislature established the regional IU medical schools in 1971 in an attempt to reduce the frequency of medical school graduates leaving the state and increase the number of graduates entering primary care residencies.

Doctors are more likely to stay in a community where they grew up and went through their medical training than they are to move back home to practice after training somewhere else, said Derron Bishop, interim director of the Muncie program.

Being able to confer a medical degree through the Muncie program will “allow us to showcase the great synergy and collaboration” between the medical school, Ball Memorial Hospital and Ball State University, Bishop said.

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Information from: The Star Press, http://www.thestarpress.com

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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