As entry into medical school grows increasingly competitive CUNY is opening another door of opportunity for students hoping to practice in medically underserved communities. Health Reporter Erin Billups has the details on the city university's new and only medical school and filed the following report.
Some city students will soon be among the first to graduate from the newly accredited CUNY School of Medicine at City College.
It's an expansion of an existing program - the Sophie Davis School - where students straight out of high school take a mix of general education and medical classes over a five year period. But now, instead of transferring to other area med schools to complete their medical education, they can stay to finish up with guaranteed rotations at St. Barnabas Hospital in the Bronx.
"It is harder and harder to get clerkship spots for those third and fourth years. We felt it was really time for us to take ownership," says City College President Lisa Coico.
Indeed, an influx of foreign medical students training at area hospitals has meant fewer spots for Sophie Davis graduates. That was threatening the program's 40-year-old mission meeting the general health needs of poor communities by training up doctors from within those communities.
"Between 2009 and 2013, 43 percent of our students were black or Latino. And in 2015, 44 percent of the students, they come from these communities, they go back into these communities," says Coico.
More than three quarters of Sophie Davis graduates stay and practice in the New York City area.
The expansion is an effort to address the doctor shortage mainly outside of Manhattan. The state meets only 40 percent of its primary care needs.
Cladimar Vasquez, a Sophie Davis School sophomore, hopes to be part of the solution.
"When you have a physician that's like from your own community and who understands where you're coming from and what not, that it builds that bridge and it helps the patient be able to tell you more about their story," she says.
And for Sophie Davis students it means worrying less about the competitive med school matching process and more about their coursework.
"It makes it a better experience, cause you're not, you're gonna be stressed with the classes itself, you don't have to have that extra stress," says Kareena Lashley, a Sophie Davis School sophomore.
The school will receive full accrediation when its first class graduates.