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Central Wisconsin Identified as Site for Medical College Campus

By Portage County Business Council

Central Wisconsin has been identified by the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW) as one of two sites statewide for the development of a medical school campus. The second site is Green Bay. MCW’s Board of Trustees authorized MCW’s leadership to enter into the development phase of establishing the two community-based medical education campuses with a goal of admitting the first group of medical students to the new campuses as early as the summer of 2015. The Trustees identified milestones that must be achieved before student recruitment will begin on the selected campuses.

Milestones to be achieved are relevant to accreditation, funding, faculty recruitment and development, formalized agreements with local health care systems and academic institutions, MCW faculty approvals, and the creation of local residency programs.
MCW is launching the community-based medical education initiative to address the shortage of physicians and other health care providers in Wisconsin, especially in underserved rural and urban areas.

“The Medical College of Wisconsin is committed to developing community-based medical education programs that mirror the quality and success of the Medical College of Wisconsin’s medical education program in Milwaukee,” said Edward J. Zore, Chairman of the MCW’s Board of Trustees. “We believe the milestones identified in the development phase will ensure our partner communities, health care systems and academic institutions that this investment in expanded medical education will result in a steady supply of physicians to meet each region’s future needs.”

John R. Raymond, Sr., MD, MCW President and CEO, said, “Working through Centergy Regional Economic Development, mayors, academic leaders, and economic development, business council and chamber of commerce representatives presented the Medical College of Wisconsin with a letter of interest detailing the tremendous strengths that exist in Central Wisconsin. We have had the opportunity to tour Central Wisconsin’s outstanding academic institutions and health care facilities and meet the leaders of these organizations who shared with us their vision for Central Wisconsin. We have confidence that a quality community-based medical education campus can be developed in the heart of our state.”

“Central Wisconsin’s strengths include strong health systems with outstanding physicians and established programs for student-focused clinical experiences, quality academic institutions with a scientific program infrastructure, and civic and business engagement and enthusiastic support. We look forward to working with leaders in Central Wisconsin as we begin the development phase of this project,” Dr. Raymond said.

He added, “Central Wisconsin and MCW are united in a shared vision to partner in developing a Medical College of Wisconsin medical school campus that addresses the region’s needs and reflects the region’s values.”

Central Wisconsin academic and health care institutions involved to-date in the discussions are (in alpha order): Aspirus Health System, Marshfield Clinic, Mid-State Technical College, Ministry Health Care, Nicolet College, Northcentral Technical College, Riverview Hospital, University of Wisconsin – Marathon County, University of Wisconsin – Marshfield/Wood County, and the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point.

In evaluating the potential of Central Wisconsin as a site for a medical school campus, MCW noted that approximately 175 physicians in the region are MCW alumni. MCW’s medical library is affiliated with six hospital and/or public libraries, providing access to MCW’s medical literature holdings.
MCW collaborates with six Central Wisconsin area organizations on five initiatives funded through MCW’s Healthier Wisconsin Partnership Program.

Joseph E. Kerschner, MD, Dean of the Medical School and Executive Vice President of the Medical College of Wisconsin, said, “We believe that there is a rich pool of potential Wisconsin-based medical school applicants for our community-based medical education program. Based on data from 2007-2012 , a total of 191 Central Wisconsin residents applied to medical school at MCW. On average, 625 Wisconsin residents apply annually to MCW’s medical education program. A substantial number of these applicants reside in underserved rural or urban areas of the state.”

“We want to provide medical education opportunities for Central Wisconsin residents who wish to study in their home region, as well as for students from other parts of our state who wish to stay in Wisconsin to pursue their medical education,” Dr. Kerschner said.

While Central Wisconsin and Green Bay are the first sites going through the development phase, MCW will consider other sites statewide for future campuses. Dr. Raymond said, “The Medical College of Wisconsin is committed to developing multiple community-based medical education sites throughout Wisconsin. In addition to Central Wisconsin and Green Bay, we received enthusiastic responses from several other communities who want to be considered at a later date. We will continue to engage in discussions with communities across the state with the hope that other sites could be developed. We will continue discussions with potential partners in multiple regions of Wisconsin; no sites have been ruled out.”

A next step in the development phase will be to engage Central Wisconsin physician practices, county medical societies, and academic and health system leaders in the planning of the community-based medical education campus.

“The Medical College of Wisconsin has had ongoing discussions about our community-based medical education initiative with the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health,” Dr. Kerschner said. “We share a commitment to coordinate statewide medical education outreach programs and explore opportunities for collaborative efforts.”

The initial plans to be reviewed in the development phase call for an immersive model in which students will receive their medical school education in Central Wisconsin. Students will have the opportunity to take elective courses at MCW’s Milwaukee campus or at other campuses.
The first class of medical students at both campuses will target a minimum of 15 students per class. In subsequent years, the class size will target 25 students per class. The class size could increase in the future if determined by community needs and resources.

“Our vision is to develop a curriculum that reduces student debt and places students in residency programs earlier,” said Dr. Kerschner. “This will lessen the financial debt burden for medical students and hopefully enable more students to pursue careers in primary care. Debt burden prevents many medical students from considering careers in the traditionally lower-paying primary care fields. ”

One of the key drivers of the success of the Central Wisconsin program will be the commitment of regional health systems to create residency programs. The development phase will identify the capacity of Central Wisconsin health systems to support new residency training positions.

Research has shown that the best determinant of where physicians will ultimately practice is tied to where they do their residency training. According to the Wisconsin Hospital Association’s 2011 report “100 New Physicians a Year: An Imperative for Wisconsin,” over 75 percent of Wisconsin citizens who receive both their medical education and residency training in Wisconsin remain in the state to establish their practices.

The cost to develop the two community-based medical education campuses in Central Wisconsin and Green Bay is approximately $23 million. MCW has approved a $4 million grant from the education component of its Advancing a Healthier Wisconsin endowment to jump-start the development phase. MCW expects to work with the communities to raise substantial funding support so that the first group of medical students can begin their studies on the new campuses as early as July 2015.

To keep costs manageable, the Central Wisconsin campus will use a modest amount of existing space for academic and administrative needs. MCW will initially create a small number of positions in both Central Wisconsin and Green Bay to support medical school programs. Most of the programmatic and administrative needs will be handled by existing staff at MCW and by Central Wisconsin and Green Bay academic and health system partners.

Plans call for the curriculum to teach “Triple Aim” core competencies: improving the patient experience (including quality and satisfaction); improving the health of populations; and, reducing the per capita cost of health care.

The curricular development also will include a focus on opportunities for interprofessional learning with other health sciences programs such as physician assistants, pharmacy, nursing, or dentistry to emphasize a team-based model of care, and leverage distance learning techniques.

About the Medical College of WisconsinThe Medical College of Wisconsin is the state’s only private medical school and health sciences graduate school. Founded in 1893, it is dedicated to leadership and excellence in education, patient care, research and service. More than 1,200 students are enrolled in the Medical College’s medical school and graduate school programs. A major national research center, it is the largest research institution in the Milwaukee metro area and second largest in Wisconsin. In FY 2010 – 11, faculty received more than $175 million in external support for research, teaching, training and related purposes, of which more than $161 million is for research. This total includes highly competitive research and training awards from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Annually, College faculty direct or collaborate on more than 2,200 research studies, including clinical trials. Additionally, more than 1,350 physicians provide care in virtually every specialty of medicine for more than 400,000 patients annually.