The University of South Carolina School of Medicine Greenville is a four year medical program developed as a partnership between the University of South Carolina (USC) and the Greenville Health System (GHS).
USC, founded in 1801 in Columbia, SC, currently has a research flagship university in Columbia, four-year campus locations in Aiken, Beaufort, and Spartanburg and two-year campus locations in Lancaster, Sumter, Salkehatchie (Allendale and Walterboro), and Union (Union and Laurens). Total annual student enrollment at the University is approximately 44,500. The Columbia campus has more than 324 degree programs through its 15 degree-granting colleges and schools. Its faculty generated $212 million in funding for research, outreach, and training programs in fiscal year 2010.
USC's participation in undergraduate medical education dates back to the 1960s. After an extended planning period, which resulted in preliminary accreditation by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME), the USC School of Medicine Columbia matriculated its first class in February 1977. The charter class graduated in May 1981, at which time the school achieved full LCME accreditation.
GHS, founded as a city hospital in 1912, is a public not-for-profit academic health system committed to clinical health care delivery, workforce education and development, and clinical research. Over the years, GHS has progressed from a standalone hospital to an integrated delivery system with academic teaching and research programs. As a public hospital with five campuses, 1,200 beds and nearly 600 employed physicians, GHS provides comprehensive health care for the 10-county upstate region of South Carolina and beyond. As both the safety net hospital and the major provider of specialty services, GHS is the predominant healthcare resource in the region. Currently, GHS has a Level I Trauma Center and Level III neonatal ICU designation. It is the largest provider of cardiovascular and obstetrical services and the only provider of children's services in the region. GHS has a rich academic history; currently there are 177 residents and fellows in 11 ACGME-accredited postgraduate residencies and fellowships and more than 550 clinical trials, 100 annual peer-reviewed publications, and 250 national peer-reviewed presentations annually. GHS is the third largest provider of continuing medical education in South Carolina, granting 900 total hours of educational programming to more than 10,000 physicians in 2010. GHS began offering elective rotations for fourth year medical students from the USC School of Medicine Columbia in 1983. Citing a common interest in health care education and the acknowledgment of the robust clinical activity at GHS, USC and GHS partnered to create a regional clinical teaching campus of the USC School of Medicine in Greenville in 1991. Since that time, 15 to 30 students annually relocate from Columbia to Greenville to complete their clinical clerkships at GHS.
Realizing that fulfillment of their mission and vision could best be achieved through expanding their relationship, USC and GHS pursued a broader partnership and signed the USC/GHS Networking Agreement in 2008, which created the USC/GHS Academic Health System. With the goal of developing interdependent programs which will enable the institutions to evolve into an academic health system capable of meeting the challenges confronting health care delivery, the Agreement sought to leverage the resources within the USC Health Sciences Division (which focuses primarily on health-related research and education initiatives) and GHS.
Acknowledging that South Carolina faces chronic shortages of healthcare professionals in both number and geographic distribution (ranking 37th nationally in physicians per 100,000 population ), discussions quickly gravitated towards expansion of the undergraduate medical education program. Given the physical and clinical capacity constraints at the existing state medical schools, as well as the continued budgetary challenges facing the State University System, a partnership between GHS and USC was viewed as a potential mechanism to address the State's physician workforce needs. With the abundant clinical resources in Greenville, the most logical growth strategy involved expanding the campus at GHS to a four-year medical school with separate LCME accreditation.
In the spring of 2009, USC and GHS authorized a feasibility study to examine the creation of a four-year medical program in Greenville. The findings of that study, presented to leadership in August 2009, included the following: 1) The medical school expansion is consistent with the mission statements and goals of the respective institutions. 2) There exists a successful 27-year history between USC and GHS of working together to create, manage, and deliver existing medical education programs. 3) There exists an administrative vehicle capable of creating and overseeing a medical school. 4) There appears to be a qualified prospective medical student applicant pool in South Carolina capable of supporting an additional medical campus. 5) The existence of a de facto clinical faculty with experience in undergraduate medical education is already in place at GHS. 6) The size and composition of existing and potential cash flows is sufficient to both capitalize the startup cost and ensure ongoing operational integrity of the program.
Based on the findings of the feasibility study, the Boards of Trustees of GHS and USC instructed regional academic campus leader and USC Associate Dean Jerry R. Youkey, M.D. to develop a comprehensive plan for a school of medicine in Greenville. USC School of Medicine Greenville applied for Applicant School status with the LCME in January 2010. Dr. Youkey appointed former USC President Dr. Andrew Sorensen, to commission a joint task force of USC and GHS faculty and administration to create a comprehensive plan for the School of Medicine in Greenville. The task force completed its work in May 2010. From this, a Foundational Agreement was established, a multi-year financial projection completed and the mission, vision, goals and Guiding Principles were established. On August 6, 2010, the Boards of Trustees of GHS and USC approved by proclamation the creation of the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Greenville. The national accrediting body for medical schools (the Liaison Committee on Medical Education) granted preliminary accreditation in October 2011 which qualified the school to begin receiving applications through the American Medical College Application Service. The School matriculated its inaugural class in the fall of 2012.
The vision of the USC School of Medicine Greenville is to educate and advance knowledge to transform healthcare for the benefit of the people in the diverse communities we serve. Being integrated into a highly integrated health care delivery system, the School envisions that its graduates will be equipped to address contemporary issues that challenge clinical care delivery such as variation in quality, inadequate access, and uncontrolled cost, through an educational program that emphasizes care of the total patient, founded on evidence based, comparative effectiveness and outcomes research as the basis for clinical decision making. The School will embrace an integrated curriculum which stresses systems-based practice, population health concerns, and value-based care, and will strive to meet the workforce needs in the region.