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OU medical school, slated to open Aug. 6, priming county to be a leader in bioengineering

Published: Wednesday, April 27, 2011 in the Daily Tribune

By JUDITH KIMPAN, Special to the Daily Tribune

Oakland County has the highest concentration of engineering talent in the world and an abundance of vacant office space, priming the county to be a leader in bioengineering.

Dr. Robert Folberg, dean of the Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine, made the statement to a group of more than 50 Auburn Hills Chamber of Commerce members Tuesday at the Auburn Hills Marriott.

The medical school, which is a partnership between Oakland University and Beaumont Hospitals, is slated to open Aug. 6.

Julie Kitchen, government and community relations director for Beaumont Hospital, said: “This is the first private medical school we have had in Michigan for years.”

Pete Auger, City Manager of Auburn Hills, said the school is an asset to the community.

“We’re still hoppin’. We’re still growing. We’re exploring a lot of new companies,” Auger said.

Auburn Hills Mayor James McDonald, said: “It’s going to be a boon for our city. Other things are in the planning stage, but it’s here.

“This could lead to mom and pop establishments coming to Auburn Hills,” said McDonald.

Beaumont and OU started working together years ago when they collaborated with eye research and nurse anesthesia programs.

The school will start with 50 students and increase by 25 until it reaches 500, Folberg said. Some medical students will come with families, but the majority of students will be “twenty somethings,” he added.

The first two years of students’ medical programs will consist of basic classes and labs on Oakland’s campus. Third- and fourth-year students will do clinical rotations primarily at Beaumont hospitals in Royal Oak and Troy.

It’s not just high technology innovations, but the way the students were selected.

“We go beyond looking at the grades and test scores,” Folberg said. “We want to generate a doctor that you yourself (would) want to go to.”

Training medical students will differ from past medical school practices. The Oakland medical school will help students spend their first four years discovering their passion by working on projects and their abilities will need to match their passion.

When the school was reviewed for accreditation, there were no recommendations for improvement.

“Other schools come to us to learn about our curriculum. We are looked upon here in the U.S. and outside of the U.S. as doing something special,” Folberg said.

The medical school is important since there is a projected shortage of medical care personnel.

“You can increase the number of medical students, but we need residencies for them to go to,” Folberg said. “Sixty-one percent of physicians who complete their residencies end up practicing 100 miles from where they trained.”

Margie Lavelanet, marketer from Costco, said: “I’m excited as a parent. It’s an awesome, awesome opportunity for Oakland County.”

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