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Medical college chooses St. Norbert

Heidi Ross, News Writer
December 4, 2012
Filed under News

Following months of planning and negotiation, the Medical College of Wisconsin has finalized arrangements to establish an estimated $11 million satellite medical school at St. Norbert College in De Pere.

The goal is to increase graduate-level medical education opportunities for prospective students in Northeast Wisconsin.

Other locations considered for the medical school included Bellin College of Nursing and UW-Green Bay. Though neither will have the medical school on campus, expert faculty from both schools will help oversee progress of the school, curriculum and students.

MCW announced the expansion in June and plans to open the new college’s doors in July 2015.

St. Norbert officials said the college’s classrooms, offices and laboratories will be constructed as an addition to a science building expansion previously budgeted. For the inaugurating year, the college hopes to enroll approximately 15 students and expand class numbers in future years.

Executive Vice President of the Wisconsin Medical Society, Rick Abrams, said the decision is a big step for Wisconsin education in medicine.

“It’s absolutely wonderful that MCW has expanded its programs to new campuses that previously didn’t have medical education of this caliber,” Abrams said. “We believe it’s a great idea, and we fully support it.”

If UWGB had been chosen to host the medical school, officials were considering placing the school in the former Brown County Mental Health Center, less than two miles from campus.

However, a hands-on clinical simulation center will be located at Bellin College in Allouez for medical students to practice their skills.

“The simulation center will help these students with perfecting their skills in handling all kinds of real-life situations as well as fortify bedside manner,” said Bellin College President and CEO Connie Boerst. “Simulations would involve the use of interactive mannequins and baby dolls so that the students can practice in a safe environment before they begin working with actual patients.”

MCW also hopes to include a shadowing program with the medical students to broaden their understandings of other medical professions and practices. Residency and additional clinical training will be conducted at Bellin Health, St. Vincent Hospital, St. Mary’s Hospital, Aurora BayCare Medical Center and the Veteran’s Administration Outpatient Clinic in Green Bay.

MCW has also confirmed plans to establish another medical school in Wausau also projected to open in 2015. Officials building the Wausau school’s curriculum are looking to make medicine the college’s flagship program, but are also contemplating offering pharmaceutical, physical therapy and dentistry programs to the list.

MCW President John Raymond, M.D., said he was enthusiastic about the new opportunity for medical education in a rural area.

“I was very impressed with the idea to place a medical education center in Wausau. It has a lot of potential,” Raymond said. “We are also hoping for a pharmacy school in the future to help alleviate shortages of pharmacists in rural areas of Wisconsin.”

A 2011 report released by the Wisconsin Hospital Association predicts the state will require an additional 100 new doctors per year for the next 20 years in order to meet demand.

After the location of the new medical college was unveiled Nov. 19, UWGB Chancellor Thomas Harden commended St. Norbert for being selected to host the school and expressed his enthusiasm for all Green Bay universities to work together on the project.

“UWGB has a great relationship with both St. Norbert and Bellin College, site partners that we know and respect,” Harden said. “I’m proud that we succeeded in making this case, and our students will benefit tremendously from a seamless, close-to-home medical school option.”