by Judith Riess, Editor of Medical Training Magazine

It was my privilege to have a tour of the University of South Carolina School of Medicine, Greenville. Dr. Jerry Youkey, Dean, and USC Associate Provost of Health Sciences and Executive Vice President of Medical Affairs kindly briefed me on the school’s background. From its inception the plan was for the school to be an integral part of the community and to provide not only excellent health care but to be a contributing factor in the growth and wellbeing of the community. Dr. Youkey gave me a tour of the facility and the plan behind its design. He gave credit to Dr. John Schaefer, III for the design of the simulation spaces and explained how the schools thru ought South Carolina work hand in hand to provide the best academic and personal experiences for their students.

Their first class graduated in May of this year and made history with their inaugural match day with 98% match and 100% placement in South Carolina and prestigious programs across the US.

In their inaugural year, 2012 they had 1404 applicants for a class of 53 medical students. Each year applications have almost doubled and this year there were 4158 applications for 100 slots.

A great deal of interest is generated through their Medical Experience Academy (MedEx) which is the pipeline program for the medical school. The MedEx Academy received commendations as a “best practice” medical school pipeline from the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME) during the provisional accreditation. They have a strategic collaboration with the Greenville County School District for high school students to learn about healthcare careers (Tier 1). Tiers 2-4 are focused on colleges and universities and another dimension of the Academy is focused on historically black colleges and universities to encourage participation in health science careers.

The medical school was founded on a unique economic partnership between the Greenville Health System and the University of South Carolina.

The school was founded to be a thriving part of the community so they looked at factors which would contribute to the communities they served. First, they addressed transforming their health and wellness; providing a different delivery system and a different kind of care given by a different kind of doctor, educated in a different kind of medical school.

The need for the medical school began with our countries physician shortage. Twenty-five per cent of our physicians are 65 or older and one/third will retire within 15 years. Added to that we have an aging population that will need increasingly complex medical care.

So they asked themselves what it would take to transform healthcare and decided they needed to become a total health organization that would be able to provide care across the continuum. In order to do that they needed to become a health care value leader in their region. To do this they had to improve care delivery and workforce development through academic innovation. Last but definitely not least they had to have a sustainable financial model.

They are transforming their delivery system to provide the right care at the right place when and where needed. They are focusing on wellness rather than illness by creating healthier communities which will keep people out of the hospital and the emergency room. They are partnering with organzations,like EMS and YMCA, schools and the business community to foster collaboration and wellness through proper eating and exercise. They are partnering with businesses to improve employee health, reduce absenteeism and minimize disability. For Greenville, medical care will focus on individual help, leverage technology for convenient care and integrate resources to provide the highest quality of care at the lowest cost through the use of proven practice guidelines, community campaigns and collaboration with the community.

Their progressive medical education program requires their medical students to have emergency management technician certification, giving them unparalleled knowledge of the community by serving individuals and families.

They may be the only medical school to promote lifestyle medicine education by teaching the importance of exercise and nutrition in disease prevention and treatment, launching a national movement to integrate lifestyle medicine into all medical school curricula.

Their unique curriculum which requires EMT training and lifestyle medicine coupled with population health and health services research and patient and clinical experience during their first weeks as students teaches them necessary skills to work as a team to provide safer, quicker more coordinated and cost conscious care.