Columbia-Bassett Program Off To A Great Start

Cooperstown, N.Y. – The Medical College Admission Test scores (MCATs) of the second class of students to enroll in the Columbia-Bassett Medical School Program average 36.2, among the highest average in the country. The fact that this unique medical school program, established in 2009, is attracting such high caliber students speaks volumes about its innovative approach to teaching today’s aspiring physicians.

Five women and five men were selected to the program out of a pool of 698 applicants from all over the U.S. They are: Alana Aylward, New York University; Bryan Block, Dartmouth College; Billie Borden, Middlebury College; Kathleen Breeding, Dartmouth College; Robert Brickley, Williams College; David Chapel, University of Michigan; Margaret Dowd, University of Notre Dame; Annette Georgia, Smith College; Adam Hsu, University of Chicago; and Seth Mathern, University of Wyoming.

Bassett Medical Center will welcome the second class to Cooperstown for a week in August. Then the students head to Manhattan for 18 months of basic science instruction at Columbia before returning to Bassett for two and a half years of clinical training.

Using the group employed model of health care delivery in a rural environment, combined with an innovative curriculum in health care management, the Columbia-Bassett experience is designed to prepare today's graduating physicians to lead systems focused on evidence, quality, safety and cost-effective delivery of care. In addition to traditional first-year courses, the students attend monthly lectures by guest speakers focusing on the SLIM (Systems, Leadership, Integration and Management ) curriculum.

“The purpose is to encourage them to be mindful of learning about the American health system, what works, what doesn’t and what’s being contemplated in terms of changes – and also to continue to expose them to physician role models and talk to them about performance improvement and process reengineering,” said Henry Weil, M.D., Columbia’s assistant dean for education at Bassett.

The SLIM component, which is unique to the Columbia-Bassett Program, has been extremely well received by the first class of students. “It has been a phenomenal experience to be able to discuss problems and potential solutions in the health care industry with the high-powered doctors, hospital administrators, insurance representatives, and IT specialists that have come to speak with us,” agreed Mark J. Harris, Class of 2014 and a graduate of Dartmouth College.

“The uniqueness of the Columbia-Bassett experience is attracting highly motivated and exceptionally talented students,” noted Walter Franck, M.D., Columbia’s senior associate dean at Bassett. “Our faculty is very much looking forward to working with these aspiring physicians to develop their skills as doctors and, hopefully, leaders in rural medicine.”

All 10 of the students in the inaugural Columbia-Bassett Program class are spending their summer doing research, principally at Bassett, before beginning their final semester in Manhattan. Meanwhile, at Bassett, preparations are being made for orientation week for the second class, which begins August 7, and curriculum development is underway in anticipation of the return of the Class of 2014 in January 2012.

The new program broadens opportunities for Bassett faculty to be involved, and about 90 percent have received Columbia appointments. “What is attracting the students and what will be the primary source of value to them is the great Bassett faculty,” said Weil.