LI clinical campus to train med students

Medical students Zachary Zimmer, left, and Bhumika Patel

Medical students Zachary Zimmer, left, and Bhumika Patel visit with patient Emily Kramer at Winthrop-University Hospital in Mineola, where the Stony Brook University medical school has established a training clinic. (Nov. 18, 2011) (Credit: Ed Betz)

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The Stony Brook University School of Medicine has expanded to establish a clinical campus at Winthrop-University Hospital in Mineola, where at least 80 medical students will be trained annually in an effort to meet an increasing national demand for physicians.

In this year's second major advance for medical education on Long Island, the hospital is expected Thursday to announce receiving its accreditation for the program from the Liaison Committee on Medical Education.

In July, Hofstra University welcomed 40 first-year students as the inaugural class of the newly established Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of Medicine, which university officials there have said will seek to become a national leader in medical education.

Pearl Kamer, chief economist for the Long Island Association, said the growth in medical training and research is a smart move for the universities.

"They are expanding to meet additional health care needs," Kamer said. "In addition, health care has been the only industry on Long Island that has expanded throughout the recession and is still expanding."

The campus at Winthrop will serve 40 third-year and 40 fourth-year medical students who will receive most of their clinical training on-site rather than rotating through the hospital for a shorter period of time. Students can attend lectures at Winthrop and return to Stony Brook for exams. Each student also is assigned a mentor and adviser from the Winthrop faculty, such as a physician.

Stony Brook students' training relationship with the hospital has developed over the years since the university medical school's 1971 inception, Dr. John Aloia, Winthrop's chief academic officer, said. But recently, the hospital wanted to do more.

"We have Stony Brook students in fairly large numbers rotating through all major programs, and we felt what if we could keep the students for the entire two years rather than simply rotate them through?" said Aloia, who was one of the leading proponents of the hospital becoming a clinical campus and spearheaded the effort.

Previously, students would rotate at Winthrop for a month or two at a time and spend the rest of the year at other places, said Dr. Susan Guralnick, Winthrop's director of graduate medical education.

"The way it works now is pretty much the entire third and fourth year of medical school is at our campus," she said. "There is a continuity. They get to know people and people get to know them."

Aloia said the clinical campus benefits not only students but also the hospital. Medical students participate in bedside learning with hospital patients under the supervision of a clinical team, he said. In addition, all students are offered on-campus housing, and 26 reside there.

"Now we have greater responsibility for the students instead of making sure every rotation was OK," Aloia said. "We are now responsible for the entire education of the students for two years."

The first group of third-year students started earlier this year.

Nathan Watters, 26, of St. Louis, said he sought the Winthrop campus because "one of the main reasons was having a true home base. . . I like to have one home base and really get to know the people there."

Nadia Baranchuk, 24, of Brooklyn, said spending a year at one location can ease the rigorous training in medical school. For example, she said she is familiar with the hospital's software instead of having to learn a new system with each rotation.

The Liaison Committee on Medical Education -- the nationally recognized accrediting authority for medical education programs in the United States and Canada -- accredited the hospital in November. Winthrop has created a student lounge, and Aloia said that more teleconferencing with the university will be offered.

Robert D'Antuono, Winthrop's director of continuing medical education, said the hospital's designation as a clinical campus did not add much additional cost because most of the infrastructure and support programs already were in place. With the hospital preparing to break ground on a $65-million, four-story medical and research building, students in coming years will see more benefits.

With a campus in central Nassau County, students can be drawn from locations farther west of Stony Brook, officials from the medical school said.

So far, demand has been high.

"We were hoping to get maybe 10 or 15 [students] and there ended up being a waiting list for the 40 spots," Guralnick said. "We have told Stony Brook that there is room here . . . There is such a need for physicians in the workforce."

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