MGH, MSU College of Human Medicine celebrate partnership

MARQUETTE – More than a hundred people, many of them medical students, doctors and community leaders attended a Marquette General Hospital and Michigan State University College of Human Medicine reception Wednesday night in celebration of the college’s 50th anniversary.

During the event at Northern Michigan University’s Bottum University Center, Marquette General CEO Ed Banos talked about the many benefits of the hospital’s 40-year partnership with the college.

In 1974, the human medicine program, in collaboration with MGH, created a clinical campus in Marquette for its third- and fourth-year medical students.

The goal of the program, which now accepts as many as 16 students per class year, is to provide comprehensive training in clinical settings that more closely resemble those in which many physicians ended up practicing.

“It has not only been the best asset for the U.P., but it’s one that keeps on rewarding…” Banos said of the partnership. Banos said if not for the program, the community wouldn’t have such strong primary care, nor the kind of high-quality family medicine practices which provide an attractive foundation of care on which area specialists can rely.

“You just don’t realize what you have until you go somewhere else,” he said. “And we really have it here.”

And he said that it’s the “smartest, youngest and brightest” medical students that spur the MGH forward with the passion to improve its quality of care.

Marsha Rappley, dean of the College of Human Medicine and herself a practicing pediatrician, said that when the college was founded 50 years ago there was a lot of resistance to the idea that medical students could be properly trained in a community setting.

“We were founded in the 60s and there was a group of people who thought that medical schools should be established that trained students out in communities and not just in the major universities,” Rappley said. “And that was a really radical idea then. People thought that couldn’t be done, you couldn’t get adequate training, that you wouldn’t be a very good doctor. But the people who were behind this movement felt that it really, that the information and the knowledge was accessible, so you didn’t have to be isolated in an academic setting; it was more important to be around people who would be your patients and where you would work and to be part of the community as you were learning. So there were about 16 schools (nationwide) established at some point in the 60s around this same theme and ours was one of them.”

Rappley said the success of the program and its adoption all over the continent has proven those original naysayers wrong.

“I just was meeting with the students, and now – it’s not every medical school in the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico – but almost all of medical schools offer some opportunity for their students to have education in a rural setting,” she said. “Because people have learned how important that is and how that’s a workforce that we need, physicians that feel comfortable practicing in rural settings, and the best way to do that is to get them out there.”

Rappley said more than 70 physicians now working in the U.P. are graduates of MSU’s College of Human Medicine.

“And right now, among that (current) class, I don’t know how many of them told me that it’s their intent, that they hope to be practicing here or in a place just like this in Michigan,” she said.