The first class at the WMU Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine in Kalamazoo graduates later this month. The privately funded school affiliated with Western Michigan University is also expanding into Battle Creek with a new residency program in family medicine.
The 48 students of the Class of 2018 will receive their medical degrees in a ceremony at Miller Auditorium that starts at 2 p.m. on Sunday, May 13th. The day before, the medical school will hold an open house on its campus at 300 Portage Street in downtown Kalamazoo from 1 to 3 p.m. Both events are open to the public.
Dr. Hal Jenson, the dean of the Stryker School of Medicine, says, "This is another of year of successes, and another year of firsts." Jenson says the graduates are going on to their three-to-five-year residencies, where they will get training in medical specialties. Some will go to Bronson and Borgess hospitals in Kalamazoo, but Jenson says others will go to programs as far afield as Massachusetts, Florida, and California, among other states.
Jenson says family medicine is now considered a specialty that includes pediatrics and internal medicine. The WMU Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine says it plans to open a new residency program in family medicine in Battle Creek. It joins a similar program underway in Kalamazoo at the Family Health Center. The three-year Battle Creek program is in cooperation with Bronson Battle Creek and Grace Health. It will begin training newly graduated physicians in the summer of 2019.
According to Jenson, community support has been critical to the medical school's success since its inaugural class entered in 2014. He says it recruits nationally and gets more applications than it can accept. Jenson says the students it does enroll have better grades than the average nationally for medical schools.
The health care field faces a lot of uncertainty, with debates in Washington over the future of the Affordable Care Act, among other issues. Technology is also a moving target. "I couldn't tell you, and I don't think anybody can tell you what medicine is going to look like in three years or five years-to-five years." But he adds that most students see it as a calling, not just a job. As Jenson puts it, "Patient care can't be outsourced," something he says his students are prepared to do.