New Horizons in Human Medicine

MSUCHM was founded in the 1960s in response to what Denise Holmes, associate dean for government relations and outreach, Institute for Health Care Studies, called “a strong sense of urgency to meet Michigan’s need for primary care physicians.” MSU admitted 26 students in the fall of 1966 and 23 in the fall of 1967 for two years of pre-clinical study, after which these students transferred to other medical schools to complete their degrees. In 1967, the College of Human Medicine received approval for a four-year, degree-granting program, and the first MDs graduated in 1972. MSUCHM is considered the first community-integrated medical school. Since it was created within a state-funded institution to serve the citizens of Michigan, it believed and continues to believe that students should receive their clinical training in the state’s communities. Its curriculum emphasizes a patient-centered philosophy and focuses on patients’ individual needs while developing an understanding of medical science.

“The emphasis has been, and continues to be, on primary care. The majority of our students choose to become primary care physicians, and a significant proportion of CHM medical students remain in Michigan to practice medicine after graduation,” said Holmes.

MSUCHM admits about 100 students a year, approximately 80 percent of whom are Michigan residents. Students spend the first two years of their medical education on the East Lansing campus. The first year is comprised of courses that include basic sciences, behavioral sciences, clinical skills, clinical correlations and mentor groups. Students begin their training in clinical skills with their very first semester and work with real patients, simulated patients and patient models. The second year emphasizes the application of biological and behavioral sciences to an understanding of human disease.

In the third and fourth years, students work and learn at one of CHM’s six community campuses, located in Flint, Kalamazoo, Grand Rapids, Lansing, Saginaw and the Upper Peninsula. More than 2,000 physicians in these communities have clinical faculty appointments and volunteer their time and expertise to train undergraduate students. Upon graduation, students complete a residency in their specialty or subspecialty.

Currently, there are 493 students enrolled in the MSUCHM. These students are spread throughout the six campuses, with 331 students located in the Lansing area.

Recently, the Blue Ribbon Committee on Physician Workforce commissioned a study of the state’s physician workforce for the future. Results of the study found that the shortage of physicians in Michigan will be even more acute than the nationwide shortage, which estimates that the United States will have between 85,000 and 96,000 fewer doctors than needed by 2020.  Michigan will be short 900 physicians by 2010, 2,400 by 2015 and 4,400 by 2020 with the greatest areas of shortage being family physicians, general surgeons and cardiologists. The study recommended that Michigan make changes to its medical education system to attract and retain enough physicians to meet the state’s needs.

To further its mission, MSUCHM is expanding its program to include a campus in Grand Rapids which will offer a four-year medical school education. Currently under construction is the Secchia Center, funded by private donations and a commitment of $55 million from Spectrum Health to cover principal and interest payments on the building for 25 years. Private donations have raised $35.7 million through October of 2007, with a lead $10 million gift from Peter F. Secchia. Located on Grand Rapids’ “Medical Mile,” the Secchia Center will open in the fall of 2010 with 100 first-year students taking classes there. However, the phase-in begins in 2008 with 50 second-year students and 70 third- and fourth-year students beginning classes on the Grand Rapids campus. These are students who have been admitted to MSUCHM in anticipation of the upcoming expansion.

The East Lansing campus will continue to provide medical education to the same number of students as before the expansion. Holmes emphasized, “The Lansing area is in no danger of losing anything they already have. We are maintaining our commitment to this community, and the program here can only benefit from this expansion. By increasing our offerings, the MSUCHM will grow in reputation, enhancing our ability to recruit great faculty and researchers. Anything that grows and strengthens MSU can only benefit Lansing.”

By 2013, it is anticipated that MSUCHM will train 800 students each year, nearly double the current capacity.  By bringing together the resources of MSU, the area’s healthcare institutions and the Lansing community with the resources in Grand Rapids, including the Van Andel Institute, Spectrum Health, St. Mary’s Health Care and Grand Valley State University, the entity known as MSUCHM will continue to enhance its world-class standing as it brings together the best and the brightest of students, faculty and researchers.

MSUCHM continues to grow in reputation and reach. Marsha D. Rappley, MD, dean of the Michigan State University College of Human Medicine, said, “MSU has tremendous resources that are not duplicated elsewhere, providing innovative opportunities to our students, researchers and clinicians statewide. The new MSU Institute for Engineering and Health is a collaboration between the MSU College of Engineering and MSUCHM, opening the door to new discoveries in medical technology.”

Rappley reiterated MSUCHM’s commitment to the Lansing community. “Our health partner, Sparrow Hospital System, is presently providing medical education and training to 182 MSUCHM students and residents. Our partnership with Ingham Regional Medical Center includes 14 graduate medical education residents. In addition, we engage in planning for growth in clinical faculty and programs. MSUCHM continues our successful partnerships with Ingham Regional Medical Center, McLaren Health and Great Lakes Cancer Center.”

It was announced in October of 2007 that MSU will be coordinating a study of the effects of environmental influences on child health, funded by an $18.5 million contract from the National Institutes of Health. The National Children’s Study will monitor more than 100,000 children nationally from before birth to age 21. Project collaborators include MSU, University of Michigan, Wayne State University, Children’s Hospital of Michigan, Henry Ford Health System, Michigan Department of Community Health and Wayne County and City of Detroit Health Departments. Directing the project will be Nigel Paneth, MSU professor of epidemiology. MSU will coordinate the overall work of the study and house the program on its East Lansing campus.

As the state of Michigan and its citizens face the future, one thing is certain: Michigan State University’s College of Human Medicine will continue in its mission of providing us with extraordinary physicians, cutting-edge research and development and the finest medical education available.

Author: Jane Whittington
Photography: Terri Shaver


Michigan State University College of Human Medicine

A110 Fee Hall

East Lansing.

Marsha D. Rappley, MD, Dean of the MSU College of Human Medicine

Denise Holmes, Associate Dean for Government Relations and Outreach, Institute of Health Care Studies

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