Clemson-MUSC program to shorten med school, reduce tuition

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Yesterday, Clemson University and the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) launched a new, fast-track program for students who wish to become doctors and pharmacists or work in other healthcare-related professions.

The Accelerated Pathways to MUSC collaboration will start in the fall of 2017, and it will save students about one year of study. For instance, a pre-med student who enrolls in the program and is accepted to MUSC will only have to take three years of courses at Clemson before starting the four-year medical school program.

“We’ve already enrolled one student in the health administration track,” says Ron Gimbel, chair of the department of public health sciences at Clemson.

Clemson undergraduate students can apply to admission to nine graduate programs at MUSC. These include the medical school, dental school, pharmacy, physical therapy, cardiovascular perfusion, health administration, and others.

The program’s chief goal is to eliminate a student’s total tuition debt by eliminating one year of their education. “It also tries to keep the best and brightest in our state,” Gimbel says.

After one semester at Clemson, students could apply for several of the master’s programs, such as the master’s in public health in biostatistics, epidemiology, or health behavior and health promotion.

“If they make the criteria for the masters of health administration, then they can be provisionally admitted — right there on the spot — by filing the letter of intent,” Gimbel says.

There is no limit to enrollment. The entire goal is to establish healthcare educational pipelines that will meet the state’s increasing need for health are professionals.

Clemson and MUSC also have started a new joint PhD degree program in biomedical data science and informatics.

“There are two tracks. One is population health and how to manage big data for health care,” Gimbel explains. “The other track is a precision medicine track that takes discoveries from the genomic level out to delivering care – the future of medicine.”

The healthcare field needs professionals who know how to work with the vast amount of data collected by electronic medical records, Gimbel says. Under the Affordable Care Act, health systems are required to address their community’s major health problems.

“There is so much data, you need a special skill set to mine the data and to help health systems in identifying where the high-risk patients are and how to manage the health of the population,” he says.

Clemson’s work to create the accelerate and joint PhD degree programs fulfills its land grant mission, Gimbel says.

“We are giving back to South Carolina to improve health care,” he says.

For more information, visit clemson.edu/academics/programs/musc.

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