LSU, ULL May Partner for 3-year M.D. Program

LAFAYETTE, La. – The University of Louisiana at Lafayette may soon partner with the state’s flagship university to create a medical school program that will allow students to complete a M.D. program in three years.

Carolyn Bruder, UL’s interim provost and vice president of academic affairs, tells The Advertiser (http://bit.ly/t56Iww) that the new partnership would be an expansion of a current program allowing LSU med students to complete the first two years of medical school in New Orleans before coming to Lafayette to spend two years doing clinicals at University Medical Center.

The program’s expansion would admit 40 students each year to a three-year “compressed” MD program focused on primary care, rather than the traditional four-year programs in which students also learn a specialty, Bruder said.

The program would be limited to Louisiana residents, and the first class of students could begin studies as early as July 2013.

“The three-year compressed program addresses two needs,” Bruder said. “First, it addresses the primary physician needs in Louisiana, and, second, it addresses the exorbitant debt that students are graduating from med school with. It seems like a win-win for everybody involved.”

Bruder said officials began discussing the partnership’s expansion in February 2010, and they’re still having discussions to finalize details.

“The reality is we’re still in the very early stages of looking at the feasibility and whether or not this is something we can even do,” said Dr. Larry Hollier, chancellor of LSU Health Sciences Center in New Orleans.

“We haven’t approached the regulatory agency yet, and we haven’t actually completed the curriculum for that,” Hollier said. “There’s a host of steps that would have to happen between now and then.”

Hollier did, however, say Lafayette is “a very attractive place” to set up a three-year M.D. program, in part because of the current program’s success.

“The physicians, the hospitals and the patient base in Lafayette are all certainty attractive to us because they’ve been supportive of our other programs in Lafayette,” he said. “But we’re not going to rush into something without making sure it will be an outstanding program for our students.”

Hollier said his school received about 2,000 applications this past year for a program with only 200 positions.