Youngstown State University and the Northeast Ohio Medical University, also known as NEOMED, have partnered up to create the BaccMed program, which will allow students to earn a bachelor and medical degree in a compressed seven-year period.
The goal is to graduate more primary care physicians who are committed to serving financially disadvantaged families in rural and urban areas in Ohio.
Erik Porfeli, associate dean of community engagement and admissions for NEOMED, said he is optimistic about the partnership.
“We are really committed to identifying, recruiting and training doctors for and from Ohio,” Porfeli said.
Porfeli identified four specific objectives of BaccMed: recruiting and supporting students, finding a majority of students that are committed to primary care, finding students who are committed to working in medically underserved communities and finding diverse students.
“There are communities in Ohio that have a great supply of physicians. There are other communities that have virtually none. Those communities are in desperate need, and NEOMED is here to help address that need. So we are looking for students who will work with those communities and us,” Porfeli said. “[Also,] when we look at medical schools from across the nation, there are meaningful groups of people who are not well represented in medical schools. We hope in this partnership with Youngstown State to address that challenge.”
YSU Provost Martin Abraham said he thinks the program is a good opportunity for students.
“Because the NEOMED students are going to be more geared towards primary care and our hospital and physician services are designed more for primary care, we’ll be able to connect those two back up, so that when they complete their work at NEOMED they’ll be able to come back in and do residencies as part of our programs here in the Mahoning Valley,” Abraham said.
Typically, students in this program will spend three baccalaureate pre-med years at YSU and four medical years at NEOMED.
Stephen Rodabaugh, YSU-NEOMED liaison officer, said the nominal timeline for this program is “three plus four,” but that’s assuming that a student is calculus-ready. If a student needs more time to prepare for calculus, then they can add another year to the program.
According to Rodabaugh, primary care orientation is included in the curriculum. BaccMed students will take classes in community health that focus on underserved populations, shadow physicians who work in urban and rural clinics, and receive Medical Competency Admissions Test — or MCAT — preparation so they have a better chance of getting into medical school. BaccMed will admit students directly out of high school, but they won’t be accepted by NEOMED until their sophomore year at YSU.
Porfeli said that even if students get admitted into BaccMed after their second year at YSU, they will get a version of the BaccMed curriculum where they may have an option of earning different bachelor’s degrees. He said that regardless of major, all students will have to complete the pre-med requirements.
“There’s a heavy concentration of basic science courses, but there’s also experiences in the community around health care; there’s also courses in there that address diversity issues in health care. So the curriculum has been designed to ready students for the NEOMED medical school admission,” Abraham said.
Enrollment for the program starts in fall 2017. NEOMED will guarantee at least 35 seats for YSU BaccMed students each year.
BaccMed intends on getting potential students involved in the healthcare community at a young age. NEOMED offers a program called Health Professions Affinity Community Program — or HPAC — in local high schools.
Porfeli said the program empowers students to identify local health concern and decide what health concerns are the most important to them. Then, they develop their own program to address the concern in their community. A student’s involvement in HPAC will be considered when they apply for NEOMED.
“…So many health profession degree programs are looking for students who have this kind of passion, drive and determination, who actually want to do things in their community, have done things in their community, because the health care system more and more is going to need people to serve in local communities and particularly those who have very limited health care resources,” Porfeli said.
Porfeli and the other developers of the program are very excited about the partnership.
“So that at the end of the day, a student who is from Mahoning County Valley region can develop real connections with real healthcare professionals from kindergarten through 12 grade to pre medical phase and all the way through the end of medical school. We don’t want students to have to leave their communities to go to college and hope they come back; we want to create an experience where students never have to ultimately leave their community,” Porfeli said.