MARQUETTE, Mich. (WLUC) - Michigan State University Upper Peninsula Region College of Human Medicine has a new curriculum in place for medical students.
Michigan State's Rural Physicians Program has been in place since 1974, but it's evolving. There are three in Michigan - Marquette, Traverse City, and Midland.
"MSU CHM has started a new curriculum. It began two years ago, and what this does is students are now getting in their first and second years of medical school clinical experiences immediately upon starting medical school, which is something that has never happened before," says Susan Tincknell, Community Administrator at College of Human Medicine U.P. Campus.
At the Regional College of Human Medicine, students begin their first two years either in Lansing or Grand Rapids. Traditionally students would attend lectures these first two years, but MSU's new program allows for more hands on experience.
"We get a lot of one-on-one time with the physicians rather than being second, third, fourth in line behind them as you would at some other campuses as well, and its especially good, we have great rotations because of that. We get some good experiences, we first assist on a lot of cases. That is unheard of at a lot of other medical school campuses," explains Eric Schaff, a fourth year medical student at MSU's College of Human Medicine, U.P. Campus.
"I'm very appreciative of the physicians that we have up here supporting us and being able to teach us. This is a volunteer facility, so when they spend their time and dedication to us as students it means a lot," says Caitlin Polakowski, a third year medical student at MSU's College of Human Medicine, U.P. Campus.
Year three of the program is dedicated towards a wide variety of rotations, while the fourth year gives students elective rotations in fields of study that they'll want to go into upon graduation.
"From our experience it is showing that students are more prepared as they enter their clinical years in third and fourth year and that they're scoring better on national standardized exams," explains Stuart Johnson, CEO of MSU College of Human Medicine, U.P. Campus. "Our students, not only do they walk away from our campus with an M.D. degree but they also walk away from our campus with a Leadership and Rural Medicines Certificate. When they apply for residency programs, that really enhances their application process and they're landing residencies in family medicine, pediatrics, internal medicine, and a lot of the primary care specialties with OB."
"So I think it's a myth that if you train in a rural part of the United States that you're going to be focused on primary care only. And we have students going into this year, internal medicine, internal medicine pediatrics, anesthesiology, radiation oncology, child neurology, and pediatrics. And so these students are coming out of this campus doing whatever it is they want to do," Tincknell says.
The Upper Peninsula campus accepts 12 students per year. The program has graduated 286 medical students in the past 44 years, and 30 percent of those students have returned back to the U.P. region to practice medicine.