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New England News

UMass Medical School To Open Springfield Campus At Baystate Med Center

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WAMC
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The University of Massachusetts is forging stronger ties with Springfield.  A new partnership in education based in Springfield is aimed at improving health care in urban and rural areas of western Massachusetts.

The University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester will open a campus in 2017 at Baystate Health’s flagship medical center in Springfield.  This will be the first regional campus for the state’s only public medical school. By placing it in western Massachusetts, officials hope to begin to address a severe shortage of physicians in the region.

Dr. Mark Keroack, president and CEO of Baystate Health, said the new medical school campus will be called UMass Medical School-Baystate Health.

" I believe our collaboration will mean great things for our two institutions and most importantly for the people of western Massachusetts," he said Monday at the announcement of the partnership.

The new partnership means Baystate will end a long running relationship that saw the western Massachusetts hospital provide training for students from Tufts Medical School.

UMass Medical School Chancellor Michael Collins said the school plans to increase enrollment by 25 students to a total of 150.  Twenty-five students will be recruited to do their basic science courses in Worcester and complete their clinical requirements in Springfield.

" One of our goals is to recruit people who want to stay in the community," he said.  " We know half of our graduates stay in Massachusetts and half go into primary care."

     A recent workplace survey by the Massachusetts Medical Society found the number of physicians in the Springfield and Pittsfield regions reporting significant difficulty in filling vacancies was more than double the rate in Boston.

Dr. John Schreiber, director of Baystate’s medical practices, said the new partnership is an ideal opportunity to train a new generation of doctors to work in western Massachusetts.

" The doctor shortage means people have trouble getting into practices, you can't stay with your provider because they leave the area, and so it has been tough for people in need in both urban and rural settings," he said.

The medical school students in Springfield will also work with the School of Public Health and Health Sciences at UMass Amherst.   UMass Trustees Chairman Victor Woolridge said that will provide the doctors-in-training with hands- on experience with the health problems facing low-income communities.

" It is really a great synergy of talents and abilities we can bring to bare on the challenges facing western Mass," he said.

UMass, last fall, opened the system’s first satellite undergraduate campus in downtown Springfield. The announcement Monday about plans for a medical school campus was hailed by Mayor Domenic Sarno as another step in the strategy of using the education and healthcare sectors to boost the city’s economy.

" This puts us right on par with Worcester and Boston," Sarno declared.

Officials say a regulatory process that must be followed before the new medical school campus can open will begin this fall.

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