Officials from Geisinger Health System and The Commonwealth Medical College today announced they will join forces in their shared commitment to patients and the physicians who treat them. Geisinger will acquire the Scranton-based medical college to form the new Geisinger Commonwealth College of Medicine, pending regulatory approval from local, state and accrediting agencies.
“Geisinger has been dedicated to medical education for more than a century and having a medical school completes the continuum,” said David T. Feinberg, M.D., MBA, Geisinger president and CEO. “This strong alliance sets us apart by allowing us the unique ability to offer medical students a fully-integrated learning experience while filling a tremendous need for physicians in the regions we serve.”
The deal will also allow both institutions to leverage further the academic, clinical and research components of both organizations by consolidating these efforts within the medical school. Moreover, it will strengthen Geisinger’s and the college’s shared mission to improve the health and wellbeing of their communities.
“I am energized by the array of exciting possibilities available to us,” said Steven J. Scheinman, M.D., TCMC’s president and dean. “From new clinical training sites to access to Geisinger’s world-class research scientists and facilities, today's agreement guarantees the future of the college, expands our ability to create new educational programs, and positions northeastern and central Pennsylvania as a national hub for scientific discovery, particularly in the realm of genomics.”
The announcement, both leaders agree, solidifies this region’s place as a national center of innovative medical and graduate education and world-class, patient-centered care. The agreement also enhances the vision and mission of the college’s original founders to provide high-quality healthcare to patients in the region for generations to come.
“Training a new generation of physicians to deliver the promise of health and healthcare that we made to our community eight years ago meant finding a partner that shared our commitment to providing high quality care close to home,” said Dr. Scheinman. “We found that partner in Geisinger.”
A physician-led system, Geisinger serves over 3 million patients annually; has 12 hospital campuses, two research centers and a 551,000-member health plan; and trains more than 400 residents and fellows each year. Of the system’s 30,000 employees, 1,600 are employed physicians.
TCMC, one of the nation’s newest fully accredited medical colleges, offers a community-based model of medical education at four regional campuses. Since the medical college’s charter class of 2013, 254 students have received medical degrees; in addition, the college has awarded more than 300 masters degrees. By 2017, the college will have graduated 254 students with a doctor of medicine degree, including 141 from Pennsylvania.
The college’s innovative approach to medical education and its patient-centered focus is made possible by the commitment of more than 1,200 volunteer clinical faculty members. The agreement makes explicit that these physicians will retain their faculty appointments, as well as the shared intent to continue partnering with colleges, agencies, providers and others with whom TCMC has built strong relations. “The college’s organic links with the community will continue,” said Dr. Feinberg.
Geisinger and TCMC’s existing collaborations include programs to address the region’s population and behavioral health needs, as well as a new genomics curriculum presently taught to all third-year medical students.
Now, students and faculty will have expanded access to research and clinical opportunities throughout the expansive Geisinger scientific network, including Geisinger’s MyCode Community Health Initiative. Geisinger Commonwealth will also introduce new master’s degree programs based on Geisinger’s innovative technology and advanced research capabilities, routinely cited as national models of excellence.
The college’s new master’s degree programs specific to genomics will include a master’s degree in genetic counseling and a novel degree in genomics informatics to meet the increasing demands for scientists with expertise in genomic data analysis and the interpretation of complex genetic data. More than 110,000 participants have already signed up for Geisinger’s groundbreaking MyCode study that helps researchers understand the relationship between genes and diseases and allows participants to proactively manage their health.
The Geisinger Commonwealth College of Medicine will retain its regional campus model, with its Scranton-based Medical Sciences Building remaining the center of the college's administrative functions. Geisinger’s academic programs, including its residency training programs, will be integrated under the college. Dr. Scheinman will continue as president and dean and will also become the chief academic officer and executive vice president at Geisinger Health System. Employees of TCMC will also become employees of Geisinger.
In his remarks, Dr. Scheinman cited parallels between Geisinger’s ProvenExperience program, which offers refunds to patients based on “kindness and compassion,” and the college’s Family Centered Program, which pairs medical students with multi-generational families in their first two years of instruction. “In each instance, the emphasis is on keeping patients at the center of our care,” Dr. Scheinman said. “The core values of both institutions align perfectly.”
Recognized as a national expert on the patient experience, Dr. Feinberg agreed.
“Partnering with a community-based medical school to influence physician education is based on our shared belief that patients are the true north,” Dr. Feinberg said. “Educating tomorrow’s doctors to be catalysts for positive change is a natural evolution of the patient-centric collaborations we’ve already fostered with the medical college. We are very excited.”
The agreement is the first step in an integration process expected to span several months. Other than the name change, students, faculty and staff of the college will proceed with their normal daily activities. All previously scheduled college events will take place as planned.
The Commonwealth Medical College (TCMC) is one of the nation’s newest fully accredited medical colleges. The college offers a community-based model of medical education with campuses in Sayre, Scranton, Wilkes-Barre and Williamsport. The college offers a Doctor of Medicine (MD) and a Master of Biomedical Sciences (MBS) degree. The college’s innovative curriculum, focused on caring for people in the context of their lives and their community, attracts the next generation of physicians and scientists from within its 17-county region in northeast and north central Pennsylvania as well as from across the state and the nation. The Commonwealth Medical College is committed to non-discrimination in all employment and educational opportunities. Visit www.tcmc.edu