CUNY Launches Med School

School Plans to Focus on Black and Latino Students

By Clifford Michel

CUNY announced the accreditation of the CUNY School of Medicine, a medical school to be located in City College’s Harlem campus. The new medical school aims to increase diversity amongst doctors and train physicians for underserved communities across New York State.

The School of Medicine will launch its inaugural class in fall 2016 with 70 students. The medical school will be partnering with in St. Barnabas Health System in the South Bronx. The School is also expected to provide its students with earlier clinical experiences through a curriculum incorporating coursework and experiential learning alongside medical training.

State legislators and CUNY officials announced the school’s accreditation in mid-July, focusing on the potential of training a generation of physicians that serve lower income neighborhoods.

“This action increases employment, research and learning opportunities for students and faculty members at CUNY School of Medicine in Harlem and will help our next generation of healthcare workers serve communities across New York State,” said Governor Andrew Cuomo in late July. “This new school is another step toward making medical care more accessible for all New Yorkers.”

CUNY Chancellor James B. Milliken followed suit, saying that a medical school under CUNY’s umbrella was a natural outgrowth of demands of the healthcare industry in New York.

“We thank Governor Cuomo and state and city leaders for their support of CUNY’s historic commitment of access to high quality healthcare education for underrepresented constituencies in New York,” said CUNY Chancellor James B. Milliken. “The new medical school is a logical and necessary expansion [for] the college.”

Word about CUNY’s medical school have travelled through the tight-knit community of biology majors at the College of Staten Island, sparking hope for many students who may have viewed med school as a long shot.

Pablo Llerena, a junior biology major on the pre-med track, said he shared many student’s excitement about the medical school’s launch.

Llerena, who assists Professor Sebastien Pojet with research on transmembrane proteins, said that he has faith that the medical school can help bridge an achievement gap for minority students.

“It’s very exciting, I think it’s going to give more people opportunities to follow their dreams,” said Llerena. “It’s also good for society as well, we’re lacking in primary care physicians and CUNY’s medical school can help supply that.”

“We’re underprivileged and definitely underrepresented in the community,” Llerena continued. “I feel like the medical school can give us the resources we need.”

According to a 2013 Kaiser Family Foundation study, New York State is meeting only 40 percent of its primary care needs, one of the lowest rates in the country.

The Liaison Committee on Medical Education, an accreditor of medical education recognized by the U.S. Department of Education, approved the new school on June 10 giving it “Accredited – Preliminary Status” following a review of its academic program, teaching facilities and clinical partnership.

The school is conducting a campaign underway to raise $20 million in interest-free loans for its students.

The CUNY School of Medicine at City College will be using the Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education’s facilities. Sophie Davies has long been recognized as a gem of the CUNY system for its focus on patient-centered, culturally sensitive approach.

Sophie Davis is also recognized for preparing underrepresented minorities for medical practice. After five years of education at the Sophie Davis School, students traditionally transferred to fully accredited medical schools for the last two years of clinical education.

The majority of Sophie Davis graduates are licensed to practice medicine in New York State, many in primary care, with most serving in physician shortage areas or serving a patient base that is underserved.

CUNY was faced with the decision of either closing its medical education program or fully developing Sophie Davis due to an increased demand for transfer slots.

About 43 percent of the students graduating from the Sophie Davis School have been black or Latino.

In comparison, blacks comprise 6 percent of the nation’s medical school graduates and Latinos are 5 percent of the nation’s medical school graduates, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges.


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