Quinnipiac University to open medical school

North Haven campus aerial view
An aerial view of the North Haven campus
Jan. 28, 2010 - Quinnipiac University President John L. Lahey announced today that the University would begin the complex process of opening a medical school, with an emphasis on primary care and global health.

The Board of Trustees gave its formal approval to do so following a year of internal studies and a six-month feasibility study by expert outside consultants. The study concluded that a medical school is compatible with the University's mission and that Quinnipiac possesses both the financial and physical resources necessary to open one.

The process is expected to take several years to complete and includes discussions with possible hospital/health system clinical partners and the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME), the accrediting body for U.S. medical schools. Quinnipiac plans to enroll its first medical school class by Fall 2013 or 2014.

"Two major challenges that must be successfully met are securing a major hospital/health system clinical partner and meeting the very high and demanding accreditation standards of the Liaison Committee on Medical Education," Lahey said. "Quinnipiac will turn its immediate attention to these two requirements and goals."

Quinnipiac is well positioned to develop a medical school given its long-standing institutional commitment to health and medical education and the significant physical space and educational resources already available on its new North Haven Campus, which opened in August of 2009. The North Haven Campus houses all of the School of Health Sciences programs, including nursing, physician assistant, physical therapy, occupational therapy, pathologist assistant, radiology assistant and diagnostic imaging. A new anesthesiology assistant program also will be offered on the North Haven Campus next fall.

"While a medical school will certainly advance the University's commitment to health and medical education, it should be recognized that Quinnipiac already has a long and successful history of preparing health care professionals," Lahey said. "Its doctor of physical therapy and its master's in occupational therapy programs are widely recognized as among the largest and best programs in the country along with its nationally recognized master's level programs for physician assistants and nurse practitioners."

"A medical school is the next logical extension for Quinnipiac since we now prepare so many other essential members of the health care team," said Edward R. O'Connor, dean of the School of Health Sciences. "It only makes sense that we extend our health professions programs to include training physicians, particularly in this time of critical health care reform."

Emery A. Wilson, M.D., a principal of DJW Associates, an academic medical consulting firm which worked with Quinnipiac on a feasibility study has concluded a new medical school is both feasible and achievable. "Quinnipiac University is addressing projected changes in higher education by developing more graduate and professional programs, while responding to a national shortage of physicians," said Dr. Wilson. "The University is in a unique position of having considerable resources and infrastructure to start a medical school with a clearly defined mission."

Adding a medical school to its existing schools of law, communications, business, education, health sciences and College of Arts and Sciences will continue Quinnipiac's transformation into a major national university. There are only 200 American Bar Association approved law schools, 135 approved U.S. medical schools, and only 89 universities in America (out of 3,600) that have both law and medical schools.

With the possibility of national health care reform bringing an additional 30 million more Americans into the U.S. health care system, the country will require a significantly higher number of health and medical professionals trained to deliver primary care.

"Quinnipiac will be at the forefront nationally in addressing this critical health care need," Lahey said. "A Quinnipiac medical school with a primary care emphasis combined with our existing primary care focused nurse practitioner and physician assistant programs will make Quinnipiac uniquely positioned to help solve the primary care needs of our country."

The medical school also will direct its resources to global primary health care needs. Through its Albert Schweitzer Institute and School of Health Sciences, Quinnipiac has already worked on global health issues in many developing countries, including Costa Rica, Gabon, Haiti and Nicaragua.