OUR VIEW: Hiram, NEOMED agreement good news for health care

M.D. PATHWAY PROGRAM blends liberal arts, medical training

Published:

Northeast Ohio Medical

University and Hiram College have begun a partnership that will be mutually beneficial to their educational missions and help bring medical care to areas where it is needed.

The NEOMED-Hiram College Baccalaureate to M.D. Pathway Program will bring five Hiram graduates to the Rootstown-based medical school through a direct pipeline program, starting in 2014, in an effort to encourage students from rural areas to become primary care physicians.

The program will focus on students seeking a liberal arts education leading to a degree in medicine, a linkage between Hiram and NEOMED that will utilize existing programs, such as Hiram's Medical Humanities program, in addition to other training and educational programs.

Hiram's pre-med program has 70 to 80 students, most of whom are from Northeastern Ohio. Admission to medical schools is highly competitive, with thousands of applicants for a relative handful of open slots; reserving five spots for Hiram students at NEOMED is a significant set-aside, given the fact that there are only about 150 openings there.

NEOMED and Hiram College are working on a plan to provide scholarships for the students chosen for the program; as part of the NEOMED Education for Service initiative the new doctors would agree to serve five years in the community providing the scholarship. It is hoped that at least some of the scholarships will provided for physicians serving Portage County.

The Hiram College agreement is NEOMED's first with a private educational institution. In addition to its traditional partnerships with Kent State University, the University of Akron and Youngstown State University -- the founding members of the consortium that brought the medical college into existence 40 years ago -- NEOMED also has partnerships with Cleveland State and Central State and is in talks with Bowling Green and Miami of Ohio.

Dr. Jay Gershen, NEOMED president, said it is hoped that the agreement with Hiram will enable recruitment of students from diverse backgrounds with an interest in providing primary care to medically underserved populations.

When NEOMED came into being in the early 1970s as Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine, an important part of its mission was to provide training for primary care physicians with the hope that graduates would establish practices in areas where medical care was most needed. Hiram College, under President Thomas Chema, has broadened its educational scope to include a nursing program as well as a pre-med curriculum. The agreement between the two institutions sounds like a natural partnership.

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