DE PERE - St. Norbert College will be one of the sites for the expansion of the Medical College of Wisconsin. In June, MCW made the announcement it would expand to the Green Bay area, as well as Central Wisconsin, to address what the college says is a projected shortage of doctors.
St. Norbert College in De Pere will be the physical location of its Northeast Wisconsin medical school; a decision the MCW president calls transformational for the college.
"We've been incredibly gratified by the outpouring of support and spirit of partnership and collegiality that all the health systems and the academic institutions and the community leaders have given to us," said Dr. John Raymond, MCW President and CEO.
Raymond says after reviewing months of input from faculty, staff and students looking at various med campus start-up options, students had the ultimate say.
"The students loved the campus feel of a number of the sites, but at the end of the day, I think they fell in love with St. Norbert as the site for classrooms," said Raymond in a phone interview Monday.
MCW will soon start negotiations with the private college to use a portion of the Dr. John Minahan Science Hall for classrooms and labs. Raymond expects initial deals to be inked in the coming months.
"I think it's going to bring everybody together for a program that is really going to benefit the entire region," said St. Norbert College President Thomas Kunkel. "And that's unusual and rare and it's a happy day for greater Green Bay."
"We knew that we were one of a handful of sites they were looking at and we had felt optimistic," said Kunkel. "So we were very gratified and pleased when we got the word."
It's not yet known if the medical degree program will be three or four years. MCW officials say that depends on when the school receives accreditation of its facilities, faculty and finances.
And St. Norbert still needs to make some changes to the Minahan Science Hall before it can begin hosting MCW students.
Kunkel says the renovation of the building was in the works before MCW announced its expansion plans. Now the $41 million-plus project will kick into high gear.
"This is fast-tracking. This is about a two year build for us and they want to start in the summer of 2015. So, we really need to have a shovel in the ground this spring."
It's going to take a collaborative effort
"We need the full participation of all of the academic and health system partners in Northeast Wisconsin to make this work," said Raymond.
Despite passing on other Green Bay area sites, like University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, MCW says it plans on working with the regional education systems and Green Bay hospitals to provide faculty for the medical curriculum and on-the-job training opportunities.
"This is an opportunity for all the systems that have been competitive, in the Green Bay market, to really focus on collaboration and to do what is right for the community, in general," said Hospital Sisters Health System President and CEO Therese Pandl.
HSHS is the umbrella organization for St. Vincent and St. Mary's Hospitals in Green Bay and St. Nicholas in Sheboygan.
It is expected that Green Bay area MCW students will have access to SNC student services and support.
MCW's community-based medical education program in Central Wisconsin will be located in various locations, such as Marshfield, Stevens Point, Wausau and possibly Wisconsin Rapids. MCW will go into negotiations to locate various MCW operations at the Liberty Mutual Building, the University of Wisconsin-Marathon County and Northcentral Technical College – all in Wausau.
Faculty for the Central Wisconsin locations will come from the UW System, technical colleges and health systems in the Central Wisconsin region.
Raymond says it will cost up to $12 million to get the program off the ground in both regions.
The goal is to open both programs in July of 2015, targeting about 15 students for the initial class, expanding to 25 in the following years.
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