Published: Monday, November 5, 2007
NEOUCOM changes opposed at YSU
The medical school also
opposes any merger with a single institution.
By HAROLD GWIN
YOUNGSTOWN Youngstown State University's Board of Trustees would prefer that the Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine remain just as it is.
The trustees have made it clear they don't want to see NEOUCOM moved from its Rootstown location or merged with any other institution, although they don't object to another university's joining the education consortium that includes YSU, the University of Akron and Kent State University.
NEOUCOM's future is just one of the subjects being studied by the Northeast Ohio Universities Collaboration & Innovation Study Commission.
The commission was created by the state legislature last December to look for ways that five northeastern Ohio schools YSU, Kent, Akron, Cleveland State University and NEOUCOM might collaborate to improve and expand educational offerings in this region.
NEOUCOM is the only free-standing medical school in the state, but the study commission has been hearing some proposals that would have it merge with other institutions.
It's an issue the commission is expected to examine more closely at a Nov. 14 meeting.
A merger isn't something YSU's trustees want to see.
At a recent board retreat, they agreed that the best option is to maintain the current organizational structure at NEOUCOM while including Cleveland State as a partner. YSU, Kent and Akron all have equal seats on the medical school's board of trustees.
Cleveland State, however, would have to come up with some critical hospital sites for medical students to rotate through, said Dr. H.S. Wang, a member of the YSU board.
The institution's primary mission of educating primary-care physicians would also have to be maintained, stressed trustee Dr. Dianne Bitonte Miladore.
The concept of linking NEOUCOM to any broad academic health center isn't viable, and any academic collaboration is viable only at the doctoral level, the trustees said.
If there is a desire to increase medical research capacity at NEOUCOM, it can most effectively be increased by direct investment in research faculty, rather than have the school linked to another institution, they said.
YSU is concerned that any change could jeopardize the BS/MD program that it, Kent and Akron enjoy with NEOUCOM, a program that guarantees the three schools "slots" in the medical and pharmacy programs at the medical school.
The medical school is already one of the best examples of collaboration in the state, the trustees point out, and, if there is any evolution in NEOUCOM's future, the original mission of educating primary-care physicians for Northeast Ohio must not be compromised.
Dr. Lois Margaret Nora, president of NEOUCOM and the new Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Pharmacy which opened at Rootstown this fall, said NEOUCOM opposes a merger with any single institution.
She also said that NEOUCOM needs to develop a greater outreach to the Cleveland area, provided that it wouldn't adversely affect the institution's arrangement with YSU, Kent and Akron.
Cleveland State is already involved in the new doctor of pharmacy program and perhaps expanding the BS/MD program to include Cleveland State would be appropriate, she said.
Should the collaboration and innovation study result in a plan for some sort of true merger of two or more of the other four schools being examined (YSU, Kent, Akron and Cleveland State) NEOUCOM would likely be looked at as another partner to that merger, Nora said. But the BS/MD program would still have to continue, she said.
The study commission has received at least one proposal suggesting the schools merge into a single institution.