PHOENIX – It’s another first for medical students in Phoenix. Students at The University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix in partnership with Arizona State University have completed their first two years of medical school training and on Monday embark on two years of rotations in specialties at Phoenix-area hospitals and clinics.
“I’m just super excited for it to begin,” said third-year student Marisa Schottelkorb. “It’s both the most exciting part but it’s also the most scary part because for the first time I am really part of the care team. It will be awesome but it will be really scary because you have responsibilities to patients.”
The 24 students are the first to enroll in the new full, four-year medical school program in Phoenix, an expansion of the 40-year-old UA College of Medicine in Tucson.
“We are really looking forward to seeing our first group go through this new third- and fourth-year curriculum,” said Jacqueline Chadwick, MD, vice dean of academic affairs at the College of Medicine-Phoenix. “We have amazing partners throughout the Valley and beyond who have already been providing superior clinical instruction to our students from the Tucson campus. They are all excited about incorporating the Phoenix-based students into the team.”
The college (housed in both Phoenix and Tucson) is the only allopathic, or MD-degree, program in Arizona. The expansion was developed to further address the shortage of physicians in the state. The students have spent their first two years of classroom instruction in the historic Phoenix Union High School buildings owned and renovated by the City of Phoenix. To prepare for the clerkships, the 55 third-year students doing clerkships in the Phoenix area spent two weeks in training at the Simulation Education and Training Center at Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center.
“I’m really excited, I’m starting with OB-GYN as my first rotation so I will be right in there, first thing, delivering babies,” said third-year student Alicia Bond. “I had some clinical experience before I came to school and now I have been in the classroom for two years and I’m really excited to get back into the clinical arena.”
Under the four-year medical school program, students spend the first two years in mainly classroom instruction and the third and fourth years in “clerkships,” or rotations at area hospitals.
The students will spend time with physicians in obstetrics, pediatrics, surgery and other specialties. Some will also do rotations in rural areas, including working with the Indian Health Service.
Third-year student Brian Geyer will see that first hand later this year, working in the Tohono O’odham town of Sells, southwest of Tucson.
Geyer said his instructors have told him to expect to see very sick patients and the concepts of best practices.
“To be able to go out and see how that is applied in the real world and see the outcomes that are associated with that, I think that is fantastic,” Geyer said. “When you throw in a very different cultural environment it’s one of those things that makes the UA clinical science fantastic, something that we have that no one else does.”
The two years of clinical experience help students decide on an area of medicine to pursue for a residency, which is required after graduation before a doctor can practice on their own.
Third- and fourth-year students from the UA have been doing rotations in the Phoenix area since 1992 but this is the first four-year Phoenix class to reach this level. Forty-eight second-year students will resume studies in August while another 48 will begin their first year of training later this month. A group of 115 students are admitted to the Tucson campus each year.
Plans are for the Phoenix campus to expand, with an ultimate goal of admitting 120 students per year to the downtown site, where UA College of Pharmacy students are expected to join the mix. ASU’s College of Nursing plans to use facilities on the downtown campus as well as allied health courses from Northern Arizona University. The Phoenix four-year campus opened in 2007.