The WMU Homer Stryker M.D. School of MedicineThe question is, of course, did we need a medical school? Did we need another medical school in Michigan? Did we need another medical school in West Michigan?
It's hard to answer, especially as the fallout from the start of the Affordable Care Act and the continued giant hospitalization of doctors isn't clear. However, I will say that Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo have each fostered large medical hospitals -- some of which have merged -- which provide a huge number of spots for medical student internships and residencies. But when we moved down here twenty-plus years ago, there were no medical schools on this end of the state. They were all in East Lansing, Ann Arbor and Detroit.
WMU has talked about doing a medical school for years, just as it talked about trying to get into the top tiers of the Carnegie Research University classifications -- to be taken seriously against the Big Boys of Michigan State, Michigan and Wayne State. This during a very tight time of finances, when there was even some discussion about whether Western should be shut down. GVSU, which has a large nursing program, also talked about a medical school. But in the end two things happened: (1) Michigan State decided to move its School of Human Medicine from East Lansing to The Medical Mile in Grand Rapids, chock full of hospitals and major research centers, and (2) Western was able to fund its own medical school in Kalamazoo without, so they say, a dime of state or tuition money.
And 3500 applications for 50 places in the inaugural class is certainly one level of either success of the proposal or desperation amongst students trying to get into medical school, any medical school, anywhere.
So we'll see how good the program comes in. But I for one will give it the benefit of the doubt. There are a lot of doctors in the area who are already teaching medical students -- they just didn't have a medical school in their backyard to do it in. I'd like to think that a WMU medical school might even be able to make a small dent in the shortage of GPs... though I suppose you could consider that wildly optimistic given everyone else's track records.
Meanwhile, back to grading worksheets...