FIU among universities to expand medical schools

Eshrat Nikrooye-asli / Asst. News Director

The expansion of medical schools in South Florida has seen a rapid trend in development and Florida International University remains one of the most competitive institutions.

The University, alongside Florida Atlantic University, has increased the amount of residency programs in its intuition. Recently, Nova Southeastern University has announced that Dr. Johannes W. Vieweg, the director of the University of Florida’s Prostate Disease Center, will act as a founding a dean to its second medical school. While the University of Miami revealed last Thursday that the family of Stuart A. Miller, chair of UM’s Board of Trustees, donated $50 million towards the development of an advanced medical building for its medical school.

The University of Miami maintained the first medical school in Florida based on a “traditional medical doctor program”, followed by Nova Southeastern, which developed on osteopathic medicine.

In 2009, medical school development in South Florida greatly expanded, with the development of FIU’s Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine, which was followed by Florida Atlantic University’s school of medicine in 2011. By 2018, South Florida will home five medical schools after the construction of NSU’s MD program.

The Dean of UM’s medical school, Pascal J. Goldschmidt, stated “This is good for the area, it’s difficult to be the only medical school. It’s important to have a mass effect of people who are very well educated and who are engaged in research activity and medical care.”

These expansions have arrived just in time as recent predictions state that by 2025, Florida will be short 7,000 physicians.

FIU alone hosts 480 medical students at the Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine and continues to expand. The medical school also employs over 8,300 employees and contributes to estimated $1 billion to the state economy.  In 2015, the University in partnership with Nicklaus Children’s Hospital, Cleveland Clinic, and Broward Health North opened a new residency training program at West Kendall Baptist Hospital.

Dr. John Rock, Dean of FIU’s medical school stated “We’re actively increasing the residencies, because obviously, we want our students to stay here in South Florida and train.”

Rock insists that many students that complete their residencies at FIU will remain in South Florida. He also said that those that complete their residencies outside of FIU, but originate from South Florida, usually return. Of these students, Hispanic students tend to return at a higher percentage due to their“strong ties to the region”.

“They want to be home with their families and the rich culture of South Florida,” Rock said.
Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine is community-focused. Medical students join faculty and students in the nursing school to address the needs of low-income residents through home visits and unique medical to neighborhood linkages, including a mammogram equipped van that can perform screenings in the community.

Through the Green Family Foundation NeighborhoodHELP, the University’s medical students, spend a large portion of their academic years in diverse teams, alongside social work, nursing and public health students, that together directly monitor the health of 1-2 households in surrounding communities.

Many of these residents cannot afford the necessary tests provided by the University students. Also, mobility within the community allows medical care accessibility to community members that face traveling disadvantages. The collaboration between students and faculty facilitates and supports the University’s goal to community activism and improvement.

Unlike any program hosted in the US, students will spend their four years monitoring their paired households. The teams will work with these households and their healthcare providers to construct and implement care plans.

Students will be paired with families that are uninsured and under-insured, with the hopes that this experience will develop compassionate physicians that are also aware of the cultural identities and economic struggles that may characterize their future patients.

“We’re really embedded in the community, improving the quality of life of men and women here. That’s a social mission for us,” Rock stated.


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