LECOM hailed as model for new medical school growth
Josiah Macy Foundation recognizes College’s expansion over the past decade

A new report detailing the expansion of medical schools in the past decade cites the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine as a model for the growth of new medical schools. The Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation recently released “New and Developing Medical Schools: Motivating Factors, Major Challenges, Planning Strategies,” written by Michael E. Whitcomb, M.D., from the George Washington University School of Public Health and Science.

The report explores the first major expansion of medical schools in 20 years that began in 2000. Ten new medical schools have opened or announced plans to open since then. Dr. Whitcomb has identified emerging trends that reflect the impact that changes in the delivery system, in the profession, and in academic structure have had on the new schools.

While the opening of LECOM occurred in 1992, the branch campus in Bradenton, Fla., and the additional location in Greensburg, Pa., fall within the current decade.

“Changes in the organizational structure of osteopathic medical schools in the past decade have the potential to affect the emergence of new allopathic schools in the future,” Dr. Whitcomb said. “Many may view this as an unlikely development. However, because the majority of osteopathic medical school graduates are now entering and performing well in allopathic residency programs, it is not inconceivable that those interested in developing a new allopathic medical school might take advantage of lessons learned from the ongoing development of osteopathic schools.”

He notes that in addition to six new colleges of osteopathic medicine, three existing schools established branch campuses at sites some distance from their main campuses, including LECOM Bradenton. Unlike allopathic schools, the new osteopathic colleges are independent of major universities, research institutions, and major health systems, putting fewer restraints on planning and development of the colleges. Because the osteopathic schools are private institutions, they have fewer restrictions imposed by state government.

“In this regard it is notable that four new osteopathic medical schools were established during the 1990s (including LECOM Erie) when no institutions interested in starting a new allopathic medical school could obtain the approval required to do so,” writes Dr. Whitcomb.

In addition to the College's expansion, LECOM has been lauded nationally for its Primary Care Scholars Pathway, which has received significant attention since the program accepted its first students in 2007. Most recently, the program was hailed in Academic Medicine's February 2010 issue, in which author T. Samuel Shomaker, MD, JD, noted how LECOM is "leading the way in experimenting with a three-year medical school curriculum." Dr. Shomaker acknowledged that this type of program is part of a strategy for medical schools to "reduce training time, educational expense, or both -- while still preserving quality and adding the content mandated by today's (medical) practice environment."

The Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine and LECOM School of Pharmacy offer innovative and affordable education in osteopathic medicine and pharmacy. From campuses in Erie, Pennsylvania, Greensburg, Pennsylvania and Bradenton, Florida, LECOM provides student-centered pathways to prepare the next generation of healthcare professionals. Prepare yourself for medicine as your life’s profession.

January 4, 2010
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