SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) - The Indiana University School of Medicine-South Bend is attempting to carve out a niche in medical education by focusing on community health.
With this, officials say, the school will set itself apart from the other IU School of Medicine satellite campuses, defining its future and developing a distinct identity.
“What happens in the doctor’s office and hospital, only accounts for 10 to 20 percent of health outcomes,” explained associate dean and director Dr. Mark Fox. “When you think about genetics and behavior, social circumstances, all the other slices of the pie, those are things that aren’t really the focus of a traditional medical school curriculum.”
The new focus includes the Community Health Innovation Program, a partnership with the University of Notre Dame’s Center for Social Concerns that provides a stipend to regional undergraduates and IUMS-SB students to work for community organizations and conduct research into local needs and develop new programs.
The program allows students from the medical school and Notre Dame to learn about the factors that impact community health and well-being while serving at local nonprofits. The students are working on solutions for solving problems, such as youth homelessness, lack of access to mental healthcare, and unhealthy eating habits.
The IU School of Medicine in Terre Haute has already implemented its own focus, with its Rural Medical Education Program that is tailored for medical students who plan to serve rural communities.
Next year Fox said the South Bend medical school will implement some of the new courses, and begin marketing to prospective medical students in the next application cycle.
The move comes at a time that the school is celebrating 50 years of medical education in South Bend. The school has come a long way since starting in 1968 as a pilot program with just two students. Since then the regional campus has graduated 600 doctors and is currently educating 76 medical students.
Dr. Paula Toth-Russell, a neurologist with Saint Joseph Health System, was a student in the program after it began offering two years of medical school. Now she mentors students one-on-one in her practice for a month apiece.
“There’s a science to medicine and there’s and art to medicine,” Toth-Russell said. “They’ve got to learn how to approach patients and talk to them.”
In 2005, the school expanded, building the Ernestine Raclin and O.C. Carmichael Jr. Hall at the southeast corner of the intersection between Notre Dame Avenue and Angela Boulevard. and three years later, it began a four-year program.
John Rice, a pediatrician at the South Bend Clinic, was also a former IUSM-SB student and now hosts students in clerkships as well as giving lectures in pediatrics at the school.
“At major med center there are many layers between you and professor,” Rice said. “But here you’re elbow to elbow with people who are world renowned in their fields.”
Establishing the new focus in community medicine is just one of the additions planned for the school. Fox also hopes to leverage the unique opportunity with Notre Dame to continue IUSM-SB’s partnership with the university, and foster innovation in the field.
“The South Bend region is manageable size for healthcare innovation opportunities. When you think about things like Innovation Park, The IDEA center at Notre Dame is doing things with health related startups,” Fox said. “We’ve got a medical student currently pursuing his MBA at Mendoza. He’ll be right in that mix as far as the innovation that’s going on.”
Fox also hopes to see more students stay in South Bend during their clerkships, when they have the option to also go to Indianapolis, and to expand the residency opportunities for students after they graduate. Currently, residencies are hosted at Saint Joseph Regional Medical Center and Memorial Hospital in the field of family medicine.
“Across the state we’re seeing communities that are expanding their training options,” Fox said. “There is discussion in the community about what are our opportunities to expand the residency training options.”
Moving forward, Fox doesn’t know what the medical school will look like 50 years from now. Its growth began with two students in 1968. Now there and 74, and more than 600 physicians have graduated from IUSM-SB.
“In 1968, no one would have projected what the campus looks like now,” Fox said. “Since Notre Dame just celebrated its 175th anniversary, 50 years kinds of looks like chump change. We’re just entering adolescence.”
Source: South Bend Tribune
Information from: South Bend Tribune, http://www.southbendtribune.com
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