As a pair of medical schools at two of Michigan’s largest universities sprout into existence, Central Michigan University’s new crown jewel might face more competition than previously reported.
CMU has often struggled to find an identity. Originally a school of education, intended to fill nearby teacher shortages, CMU has worn many hats over the years.
In addition to a burgeoning college of healthcare – practically begging for a high-profile nursing program – CMU also offers award-winning communications and fine arts degrees.
But the original CMU philosophy was followed when it introduced the brand new medical school in 2008.
Aimed to recruit from and send graduates to rural areas of Michigan that are suffering from large reductions in licensed care, CMED is poised to build upon its localized vision through a strong regional focus.
With declines in enrollment nagging the university’s academic and fiscal future, CMED might very well provide the prestige and visibility needed to re-align its university’s reputation and enrollment rate.
According to Vice President of Enrollment and Student Services Steven Johnson, a medical school changes a university’s audience, and his ambitions might not be restricted to medical students.
It is hoped the medical school could raise the visibility of CMU, increasing interest and awareness in Michigan and throughout the country. It could be part of the antidote to campus-wide reductions and deficits.
While CMU is enjoying the successful open and potential benefits of CMED, Western Michigan University has been fast at work, building its own seven-story medical school, opening in Fall 2014. With a similar end-game to CMED, Western also voiced a noble desire to fill the same medically under-served regions.
According to CMED’s Senior Associate Dean of Administration and Finance Deborah Biggs, WMED aims to offer a more traditional medical school format.
Pointing out the unique, and undeniably essential, agenda of CMED, Biggs explained that WMED would hope to serve a broader range of students. But after speaking with WMED’s Founding Dean Hal Jenson, it seems CMED’s aspirations might not be so unique after all.
Although WMED has taken a broader aim when recruiting students – pulling admission from 16 states, including one student from California – it has chiefly expressed the same concerns for under-served Michigan regions.
Jenson also admitted a large majority of WMED students will be from Michigan. This made it clear that although they might not compete academically, the schools will obviously be competing for students and job to placement them in.
WMED’s inaugural class will be comprised of 50 students. That number is hoped to grow to a first-year class of 70 next year.
CMED’s first class numbered 64 students. They hope to expand as well, with a goal of 104 for next year.
The question is: How many medical students in Michigan will go to a start-up medical school for their training with such a regional focus? Both schools are counting on hundreds.
Especially with the renowned medical school at the University of Michigan, that target audience for both of these developing colleges has got to be slim.
Driven by a dedicated faculty and student body, both universities will undoubtedly continue to develop. The presence of both is healthy, as students will be able to weigh both options and serve to measure the success of the differing visions.
As CMED moves forward, it needs to analyze this possible source of competition and consider expanding its vision as well.