The Northeast Ohio Medical College got the green light from the Ohio General Assembly last week to add 35 students from Cleveland State University to its student body.
However, these fledgling doctors will come to the Rootstown Township campus through two new programs that aim to bolster the number of primary-care physicians in Greater Cleveland.
CSU students will be eligible to enroll at Neomed by completing a bachelor's degree or two years of a post-baccalaureate preparation program geared specifically to career changers.
''We wanted to offer other pathways to get into medical school,'' said Dr. Mark Penn, special adviser to the president of Neomed and special assistant to the president and vice provost for health affairs at CSU. ''This will be a real attraction to some students.''
Currently the 487 medical students at Neomed earn a combined B.S./M.D. degree by studying for two years at their home campus – the University of Akron, Kent State or Youngstown State – and four years at Neomed. About 20 percent of each class is admitted directly from institutions other than the partners.
But an accelerated program like that may not be feasible for students who come from underprivileged families and may not have considered a medical career before.
The baccalaureate pathway will enable CSU students to test the waters before applying for Neomed after their sophomore year. Those in the two-year post-baccalaureate program can apply for Neomed at the end of their first year.
Those who are admitted get a reserved seat in medical school when they finish their CSU work.
Both Cleveland State programs aim to prepare primary-care physicians who will settle in Greater Cleveland.
''If we take students from communities that are in the most need, we'll have more luck in getting them back there,'' said Dr. Jeffrey Susman, dean of the Neomed College of Medicine. ''If you take a rich kid from Cincinnati, what's the chance he's going to settle on the east side of Cleveland?''
The programs won't require students to stay in urban health if they find something more enticing when they begin their classes at Neomed. But officials hope that they will have a better understanding of community needs and better rapport with primary-care physicians.
Nor will they have to drive down to the medical school's Portage County campus for all of their classes. Officials hope to offer about 50 percent of the courses at Cleveland State and clinical work at Cleveland hospitals.
Neomed also is raising money to fund scholarships for students who agree to work in Ohio's underserved areas after they graduate. That program will apply to all Neomed students but may be especially attractive to CSU students with limited means.
The new CSU programs will take a couple of years to ramp up. However, three CSU students will be the first to be admitted to Neomed this fall, albeit as direct admissions.
Neomed was formerly called the Northeastern Ohio Universities Colleges of Medicine and Pharmacy. The name change is effective in August.
Carol Biliczky can be reached at 330-996-3729 or firstname.lastname@example.org.