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Florida International University Unveils Plan For New Medical School

Florida International University Unveils Plan For New Medical SchoolMIAMI  
Florida International University presented plans in early July for a medical school on its campus, saying the facility is necessary to help alleviate a shortage of physicians.
FIU President Modesto Maidique said a formal proposal has been presented to the Board of Governors, who must approve what could become the state’s fourth public medical school. The plan also needs legislative approval.
Maidique also announced a $10 million gift for the school, which, with matching private and state funds could become $40 million if the school is approved.
FIU officials cited statistics that reflect a dearth of doctors nationwide, and said the planned school could alleviate the problem in Florida. About 85 percent of all FIU graduates remain in Florida after finishing their degree, and 80 percent remain in South Florida.
Also, with a large pool of applicants expected from multicultural Miami-Dade County, the school will be training doctors who can more easily cater to minorities, said Provost Mark Rosenberg.
“We can contribute a diversity of doctors, homegrown doctors that understand the issues of this community,” Maidique said.
Florida ranks 45th in the nation in number of medical residents, or physicians in training. The state’s 17 medical residents per 100,000 people is well below the national average of 37 residents per 100,000 people.
The Graduate Medical Education Committee has estimated Florida needs an additional 2,000 residency positions over the next five years to approach the national average. The state is 2,500 residency slots short of keeping up with the state’s current population, according to a report by the medical education committee.
Critics say that opening another public medical school — in addition to Florida State University’s medical program created in 2000 — is the most expensive option to build Florida’s doctor base, and efforts should instead focus on keeping medical graduates in the state for their residency programs.
The Board of Governors has discussed ways to keep more doctors in Florida.
“They have a heavy burden to prove there’s a need, but I’m going to try to keep an open mind,” Steven Uhlfelder, a member of the board, said of FIU’s request.
He said that FIU would have to convince board members how the planned school would add to the state’s doctor pool. Uhlfelder added FIU’s pursuit of a medical school also is a way for it to gain more prestige.
Florida has public medical schools at the University of Florida, the University of South Florida and Florida State University. The University of Miami operates a private medical school.
The University of Central Florida in Orlando also has expressed interest in opening a medical school. 
     —  Associated Press

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