A new program announced Tuesday will give some Hiram College students a leg up on medical school.
The tax-supported Northeast Ohio Medical University in Rootstown said it will reserve up to five seats each year for Hiram graduates who aim to become primary care doctors in rural and underserved areas.
This follows similar NEOMED arrangements for 35 students at Cleveland State and five at Central State, the tax-supported, historically black university in Wilberforce.
“We’re trying to develop a work force that can mirror our region and that will focus on medically underserved populations and primary care,” said Dr. Jeffrey Susman, NEOMED dean of medicine. “There’s a mismatch between what the population needs and what we provide.”
The hitch is that many medical students shy away from primary care specialties — family medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics and geriatrics — because they will make as much as $200,000 less per year less than in the higher-paying specialties like cardiology or neurology.
Also, the typical medical school graduate owes $160,000 at graduation, which can motivate some to select the higher-paying options.
Susman said that NEOMED and its partner schools look for grants and scholarship opportunities to whittle down students’ costs and make primary care more financially attractive.
The college already has raised more than $5 million in the Cleveland area in recent years for those initiatives, he said.
“One of the things that people don’t know is that primary care is a huge lifestyle sacrifice,” said Sandy Madar, director of strategic academic services at Hiram.
Over a lifetime, primary care doctors may make up to $3 million less than their colleagues who specialize, she said.
At the private, not-for-profit Hiram, the 20 or so students who major in pre-medicine each year now will have the chance to apply to NEOMED in their sophomore year if they are interested in primary care.
The NEOMED-Hiram College Baccalaureate to M.D. Pathway will guarantee seats for up to five of them from diverse backgrounds. The program will begin next year for this year’s freshmen.
The program may make it easier for Hiram students to get into NEOMED. With five slots reserved for Hiram graduates, they won’t necessarily compete against the hundreds of other students who seek direct admission.
Typically, NEOMED has about 35 seats available for students beyond its three feeder schools — the University of Akron, Kent State and Youngstown State, all of which take part in an accelerated six-year B.S/M.D. program.
All students must be academically qualified and meet NEOMED’s admission standards.
Susman said NEOMED is exploring similar partnerships with other colleges and universities.
Carol Biliczky can be reached at email@example.com or 330-996-3729.