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USC, GHS boards approve program expansion

The University of South Carolina Board of Trustees took action Friday (Aug. 6) to address the state’s growing shortage of primary-care physicians and improve access to health care in the Palmetto State.

The board approved a plan to expand medical education in Greenville and announced plans to explore opportunities with Palmetto Health to increase capacity for training more physicians at the School of Medicine in Columbia.

The Greenville expansion of USC’s medical-education program will be at the Greenville Hospital System University Medical Center, which has been a campus of the USC School of Medicine since 1991.

Earlier Friday, the GHS board also approved the expanded program, which must be accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) and the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME).

The initiative builds on a partnership that has been in place since 1991. That partnership allows third- and fourth-year USC medical students to complete their final two years of education at GHS. Under the proposed expansion, approximately 40 students anually will be able to spend all four years of their medical training at GHS as early as 2012. That number is expected to grow.USC also announced plans to work with Palmetto Health to increase the number of medical students trained at the USC School of Medicine campus in Columbia.

USC President Harris Pastides said the actions will address a critical shortage of primary-care physicians in the state.

“We must take immediate steps to produce more physicians of excellence to offset a growing healthcare crisis in our state,” Pastides said. “Thus, we are very excited to announce an agreement to expand our programs in Greenville and to work with the Palmetto Health healthcare system to add as many additional physicians schooled in the Midlands as possible.”

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