The University of South Carolina School of Medicine Greenville celebrated the class of 2024 on May 22 with a White Coat ceremony highlighting the partnership between the school and Prisma Health, which allows medical students to gain hands-on experience while attending school.
That partnership is why Dr. Marjorie Jenkins, dean of the school and chief academic officer for Prisma Health-Upstate, says she took the job.
“It’s a really special school that was looking at this very holistic process of bringing physicians in and being able to train them in a really complex environment to be the thought leaders of tomorrow,” Jenkins says.
The school has been open since 2012 and about 4,000 applicants vie for 100 spots every year, she says.
She says this year’s applicants entered the program with a unique perspective.
“We have heard a lot more in this cohort of students that they were very impacted by seeing the frontline workers and really seeing the physicians work through the pandemic,” Jenkins says.
She says the school’s partnership with Prisma Health has been valuable for South Carolina.
“I think COVID has shown us that population health, in addition to point of care where it’s one-on-one, is extremely important, especially for a diverse state like South Carolina and a state that routinely ranks in the bottom 15% for good health in the nation.”
Prisma Health president and CEO Mark O’Halla calls the medical school a “grand experiment” because, for years, there had been a desire for a regional medical school that did not rely on state or university funding. Prisma has funded $3 million in supporting scholarships for students at the medical school.
“That grand experiment has blossomed into this amazing medical school that is a linchpin to everything that Prisma does across the state,” O’Halla says.
Diversity has also been prioritized by the medical school. O’Halla says about a quarter of the students who enrolled in 2020 were from underrepresented populations. Jenkins says the school has been intentional to make diverse classes. It’s something that UofSC School of Medicine Greenville alum and local physician Dr. Brittany Kizer Stovall remembers even as part of the first cohort.
Dr. Kizer Stovall, who addressed the incoming class at the White Coat ceremony, says when she enrolled, she was impressed that half of her classmates were women and she’s proud the school continues expanding its diversity initiatives.
“I think it’s really important to create a kind of like a diverse workforce, whether it’s medical school or … businesses, and I really feel like the medical school is leading the charge on that,” she says.