Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of Medicine officials hope its latest addition boosts academic programs, brings more medical conferences and builds new off-campus partnerships on Long Island.

Medical school faculty, students and elected officials Monday -- in celebrating the completion of the school's $35.9 million building and the full accreditation of its curriculum -- spoke of further implementing the school's innovative model of physician training.

"We've succeeded in creating a new model of medical education that integrates the clinical and classroom science, and that recognizes that physicians treat people and not just their illnesses," Hofstra University President Stuart Rabinowitz said. The medical school, announced in 2007 as a partnership between the Island's largest hospital system and the Hempstead-based private university, is one of 141 programs in the country to offer the doctor of medicine, or MD, degree.

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"Health care reform is occurring here," said Michael Dowling, president and chief executive of the North Shore-LIJ Health System. "You can't change the delivery of health care 10 to 15 years from now unless you change the way you train and teach practitioners of that medicine today."

The new 63,000-square-foot addition more than doubles the size of the medical school, which has been operating in a renovated building once used as the Jets' football training facility.

There are currently 280 students enrolled, with plans to grow to 400. The first class, admitted in 2011, will graduate in May.

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In founding the school, the first in the state in more than 40 years, the hospital system and the university sought to create a curriculum that exposed students to patients in their first year to allow for more hands-on training.

Within the first nine weeks, each first-year student becomes an emergency medical technician.

Fiore Mastroianni, 27, of Westbury, came back to Long Island to attend the school because he "wanted to be a part of something new and exciting."

"You only go to medical school once and I think everyone had other options as to where they could go, but chose Hofstra because they wanted to be pioneers," Mastroianni said.

Of the project's total cost, $14.5 million was provided from $25 million in New York State Economic State Development Corp. grants that Hofstra secured in 2008. The $21.4 million balance for the new building was financed through bonds issued by the Town of Hempstead Local Development Corporation.

The medical school has worked with Hofstra's schools of law, business and engineering. A master's of public health has been created and a new degree in advanced nursing is being planned, according to Dr. Lawrence Smith, medical school dean.

There are plans to partner with a group of physicians to bring medical care to the uninsured in the Rockaways, Smith said.

Friday, the school hosts its first medical conference.

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So far, the medical school has proved to mutually benefit the university and the health system, he added.

"But I also promised this would be a better community because we were here," Smith said.