More than four years ago, 10 pre-med students took a leap of faith and became the first individuals to enroll in the Columbia-Bassett Medical School Program.
This Wednesday, eight of those 10 original students will graduate from Columbia University in New York City. They are the first students to complete the innovative program, which was launched in 2010, according to a media release from Bassett Medical Center.
Allan Guiney of Cooperstown is one of these graduates. Guiney said both of his parents used to work as physicians at Bassett. He said he was excited to enroll in the program and learn medicine in a community where he has deep roots.
Dr. Walter Franck, Columbia’s senior associate dean at Bassett, said he is “very proud” of the Columbia-Bassett program, its faculty and the graduates.
“These students got accepted at the best medical schools in the country, but they took a real chance and enrolled in our brand new program,” Franck said, “And it came out great.”
Franck said he was instrumental in the creation of the program, which was designed to combine traditional medical education in an urban environment with hospital-based outpatient and inpatient clinical education in a rural environment: Cooperstown’s Bassett Medical Center.
Students spend the first year and a half of the program at Columbia with the university’s other students, Franck said. In January of the students’ second year, they relocate to Cooperstown, where they live and learn until their graduation.
For the two and a half years they are in Cooperstown, students learn the basic clinical disciplines, Franck said. These are general medicine, surgery, obstetrician-gynecology, pediatrics, family medicine, psychiatry and neurology. Students are exposed to medicine in a different environment and, therefore, are introduced to medical issues they may not be familiar with, he said.