School of Doc

School of Doc

Written by Jessie Martin Category: Valley News Issue: February 2017
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This summer, the University of Arizona College of Medicine’s 50-year run as the only M.D.-granting institution in Arizona will come to an end with the debut of the Mayo Clinic School of Medicine in Scottsdale. It will be the third branch of the medical college, which was founded in 1972 in Rochester, Minn., followed by a sister campus in Jacksonville, Fla. The Scottsdale expansion, which opens in July 2017 with a founding class of 50 students, aims to augment the Mayo curriculum with a healthy dose of innovation and research infrastructure via a partnership with Arizona State University.

Dr. Lois Krahn, a Mayo Clinic physician of 22 years, says a common misconception of this partnership is that ASU and Mayo Clinic are opening a joint medical school.

“It’s important to note that we are not partnering with ASU in the legal sense. We have a very rich and productive collaboration with ASU that dates back over a decade,” Krahn says. “Their expertise in terms of engineering science and the humanities is very complementary with our expertise in biomedical science, medicine and running a clinic and hospital. It just has made a lot of sense that we would work together and bring together our complementary assets.”

The alliance will provide each student enrolled with the opportunity to complete a certificate in the science of health from ASU in addition to their medical degree, making MCSM the only school in the country with this unique educational opportunity. Students will also be able to complete an optional master’s degree in this program while in medical school.

Dr. Michele Halyard, dean of the Arizona MCSM, says this collaboration distinguishes the school. “This program makes us one of 11 medical schools recognized by the American Medical Association to develop the most innovative curriculum,” Halyard says. “We have a long-standing history and tradition and [knowledge of] what works, but we have also innovated our curriculum with the science of healthcare delivery and with web-based tools.”

Mayo students will spend their first two years in the classroom at the Mayo campus in Scottsdale, and will gain inpatient and outpatient experience on both the Scottsdale and Phoenix hospital campuses during their clinical years.

Halyard says it’s important to note that MCSM is not opening a new school, but rather another branch of a well-established program. “Being a national medical school means we have faculty across the Mayo enterprise,” Halyard says.

Krahn, who has been with Mayo for more than three decades as both medical student and physician, says the Southwest expansion fits the organization’s goal of providing excellent care to patients across the country – especially in medical industry hives like the Valley. “I joined Mayo when I was accepted to Mayo Medical School,” Krahn says. “I was very impressed with how patient-oriented the institution was and my education would be. Now, 31 years later, I remain inspired by the institution’s focus on how can we improve quality of life and outcomes for our patients.”

Krahn says another goal of MCSM’s Arizona branch – which required a $100 million initial investment to found the school – will be long-term research, which ASU will be involved in. “Some of the topics that our research teams are working on are helping people who have psychosocial distress, undergoing stem cell transformation by digital storytelling, heart failure, breast cancer, migraine headaches and prosthetic limbs,” Krahn says. “One thing that we have done more recently is work more closely with ASU to help joint research teams. We have benefited from ASU’s scientists and engineers in these areas.”

In addition to the Mayo and University of Arizona medical schools, Arizona is also home to two of the country’s 33 accredited osteopathic medicine (D.O.) colleges: A.T. Still University School of Osteopathic Medicine in Mesa and the Arizona College of Osteopathic Medicine in Glendale. The total of four medical schools is about in line with other Western states of comparable size: Washington has three; Colorado has two.

Med School Controversy
According to The Arizona Republic, the Arizona Board of Regents’ health affairs committee began investigating the University of Arizona’s College of Medicine’s operations in August 2016 after a leadership exodus. Although the board never released a report with detailed information, some of the topics in question were the use of public money, the legitimacy of documents, and the ethics of some of the leaders involved in the school, including health sciences senior vice president Dr. Joe G.N. “Skip” Garcia. The Board of Regents held meetings for several months regarding these issues, but decided in November to discontinue its inquiry after spending $180,000 on an independent report.