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Opening the Door

Florida State University College of Medicine

FSU med school students spend their last two years working with faculty at two dozen hospitals around the state.

It’s no accident that the education and administration building at Florida State University’s $60-million medical school complex bears the name of John Thrasher. While Speaker of the House, the FSU alumnus pushed the creation of the med school past objections from the state’s other medical schools. Today, six years after the first class of 30 entered the program, FSU’s College of Medicine has graduated three classes totaling more than 100 physicians. It’s the only new U.S. medical school in more than two decades to receive full accreditation, and it has paved the way for the creation of med schools at UCF and FIU.

J. Ocie Harris

Year founded: 2000; first class entered 2001; received full accreditation 2005
Students: 356
State funding: $45 million in 2006-07 (est.)
Federal funding: $2 million grant in 2005 from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration (split with the University of South Alabama and Florida A&M); the FSU medical school does not have a teaching hospital that receives federal Medicare and Medicaid funding.
Private funding: Private funding has been limited — $4.5 million in 2006-07 (est.)
Dean: J. Ocie Harris, M.D., joined the FSU College of Medicine in November 2000 as associate dean for medical education and became dean in January 2003. Worked from 1973 to 2000 at the University of Florida College of Medicine.
Specialty areas: Geriatrics, family medicine and rural health
Faculty: 97 full time plus 889 part time at the six regional campuses
Tuition: $18,784 a year
Affiliated hospitals: FSU has no affiliated teaching hospital but has relationships with hospitals throughout the state.
Graduates: 111 (class of 2005 — 27; class of 2006 — 36; class of 2007 — 48)
Graduates who stay in Florida: 48% of the class of 2005 stayed in Florida for their residencies; 53% of the class of 2006 remained in Florida; 43% of the class of 2007 stayed in Florida.

The 120 students in the FSU med school class of 2011 who start their studies this summer (all of whom were required to be Floridians) will follow a program of community-based medicine used by only a dozen or so of the nation’s 125 accredited medical schools. FSU students spend the first two years on campus in Tallahassee and then their third and fourth years working with faculty at two dozen hospitals at regional campuses in Pensacola, Orlando, Sarasota, Daytona Beach, Fort Pierce and a non-campus location in Tallahassee. “We’re able to recruit the top physicians in each specialty in each of these areas,” says Doug Carlson, director of communications for the FSU College of Medicine.

One of the areas of focus for the school is rural health. As part of that program, some students spend their third year in Marianna in Jackson County and then move to one of the regional campuses for their final rotation. This fall, some students will begin training in Immokalee, where FSU recently completed the transfer of a donated building and already conducts a three-week summer clinical practicum serving rural and other underserved populations. Last year, the school received a $2-million boost for one of its other specialties, geriatrics. The grant, from the Las Vegas-based Donald Reynolds Foundation, will help FSU integrate the principles of geriatrics throughout the curriculum as well as extend the training to the outside clerkship faculty.

With the current class, enrollment is on track to reach 480 by 2010.