Many experts predict that by 2025 the United States will suffer from a physician shortage of 130,600. This statistic, from a supply-and-demand study conducted by the Association of American Medical Colleges, is not only concerned with patient care resources nationwide but also resources at the state level. Wisconsin, a state that currently graduates 400 new physicians each year from its medical schools, is one area that is at risk for a physician shortage in the long term. In an attempt to offset the projected outlook of Wisconsin experiencing a 2,000-physician shortfall by 2030, the Medical College of Wisconsin is introducing a new program designed to get students on the fast track to graduating and beginning their healthcare careers.
New Medical College of Wisconsin
The technology-heavy program is hosted at a new medical campus within the Science Center at St. Norbert College. Supplementing the Medical College of Wisconsin’s Green Bay and Milwaukee campuses, the new 5,500-square foot campus features expanded classroom space, wall-to-wall televisions with high-definition capability, multi-directional teleconferencing devices and top-quality cameras. Aspiring physicians complete their general and specialized coursework while using this state-of-the-art technology, which enables faster completion of degree requirements and a smooth, efficient transition into practical training at patients’ bedsides.
Taking advantage of latest technology
The program, which accommodates 20 to 25 students at the St. Norbert College campus, utilizes several forms of technology for curriculum and lecture delivery. A main professor oversees each course, and guest lecturers from remote locations are able to supplement class material via a video conferencing system. Lectures that are given in real time are also recorded so that students can access them at their own discretion. The curriculum is delivered to students through various electronic devices, including smartphones, computers and tablets. A fingerprint identification system allows program participants to receive notes, class handouts and other curriculum components on these devices. Although less conventional in delivery than what is typically offered in medical school programs, the course materials used in this program are designed equally in terms of state education standards.
Tuition savings lure applicants
Applicants for this Medical College of Wisconsin program number 1,900 at present. Debuting in July 2015, the program lasts three years in duration and does not include summer breaks, a factor that enables students to spend less on tuition than they would in a longer medical school program. Those who are accepted to the medical campus and who complete their studies on time will save approximately $50,000, or one year’s worth of tuition, while simultaneously qualifying to work as physicians in Wisconsin in an expedient manner.
Partnering with leading healthcare providers
According to Maureen Mack, the college media-relations director, this technology-centered program costs $11 million to implement when all expenses are taken into consideration. In order to avoid spending additional money on a brand-new campus, yet still having the ability to provide a larger student population with adequate training and clinic space, the Medical College of Wisconsin is partnering with several health care providers and academic institutions. Bellin Health, Prevea Health, Bellin College, St. Norbert College and the University of Wisconsin – Green Bay are the establishments participating in this new program model. The innovative collaboration of the medical campus with partnering facilities is looked upon favorably by a number of health care leaders throughout Wisconsin, including Therese Pandl, the CEO/President of Hospital Sisters Health System. Pandl opines that an increase in qualified medical students can greatly benefit the quality of care that Wisconsin patients receive.
How insiders view new campus
Matthew Hunsaker, the dean of the Medical College of Wisconsin’s Green Bay campus, believes that the college’s new technology-oriented program is a cost-effective and efficient way to solve the physician shortage program. He states that the curriculum is structured in a manner that allows students to hone their clinical skills early on so that they can work successfully as physicians after completing the program. Aspiring medical student, Julia Furtado, agrees with Hunsaker in regard to the importance of familiarizing future physicians with up-to-date technology. She feels that integrating technology at the classroom level prepares medical students for working with the electronic records systems used in modern professional environments. In contrast, Kyle Jackson, another pre-med student, thinks that increasing enrollment rates at medical schools may be a more effective way of preventing physician shortage in Wisconsin and other states.