USC School of Medicine Greenville welcomes charter class

July 31, 2012

GREENVILLE, S.C. -- Three years ago, when the University of South Carolina and the Greenville Health System (GHS) were discussing plans for a new medical school in the Upstate, USC President Harris Pastides issued a challenge to “make this medical school different and special.”

USC and GHS took a giant step in fulfilling that promise when they welcomed the charter class of the new USC School of Medicine Greenville, located on the campus of GHS’s Greenville Memorial Hospital.

Dr. Jerry Youkey, the dean of USC School of Medicine Greenville, said the vision of the new medical school is to create a different type of physician capable of leading and participating in the transformation of America’s health care delivery system. “We coined the phrase ‘A new school of thought’ as it reflects our commitment to preparing doctors who will connect with communities, patients, colleagues and technology in new, more progressive ways,” Youkey said.

The new medical school is the first in South Carolina’s Upstate. It joins the USC School of Medicine in Columbia and the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston.

According to Pastides, the USC School of Medicine Greenville comes at a critical juncture for the state and nation. The United States is in the midst of a growing physician shortage, and with an aging population and millions of Americans expected to receive health insurance as a result of healthcare reform, the current delivery system will have to change to meet demand. The nation also must add capacity to educate and train physicians.

“You don’t have to go any further than news headlines to see that we need more qualified doctors and we need them quickly. This is particularly true in South Carolina, where nearly every county has too few primary care doctors and some specialties like neurology are in critically low supply. Not increasing our capacity to educate the next generation of physicians is, quite simply, not an option. We must do it now,” Pastides said.

Looking at the new medical school’s admissions numbers, there is pent-up demand for medical education in South Carolina. Some 1,445 people applied for admission, nearly 300 interviews were conducted and 53 were accepted. Seventy-seven percent of those accepted are from South Carolina. The male-to-female ratio is nearly evenly split, with 28 women and 25 men. The charter class includes eight under-represented minorities (African Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans). Plans call to increase enrollment to 100 first-year students by 2015.

Students at the new medical school will receive clinical training across their four years of medical school, breaking from traditional curriculums that have two years of lecture followed by two years of clinical training. Clinical training will take place at the Greenville Hospital System, the 13th largest in the country, and include educational experiences in its state-of-the art simulation center and its simulated patient care center.

In addition, the medical school requires its students to become certified emergency medical technicians (EMT), a process that will occupy their first six weeks of medical school. USC School of Medicine Greenville is one of only a two in the country to require 200 hours of EMT training. (The other is Hofstra University.) Youkey explained that the experience will instill students with basic medical skills, teach them to work as part of a healthcare team and expose them to the living and working environments of patients.

“Patients don’t live in textbooks,” Youkey said. “Patients are people in our community whose circumstances are widely different. Future physicians must become ever more prepared to adapt how they care for people in accord with patient-specific needs.”

The new medical school also seeks to “hard wire” students for an increasingly IT-dependent healthcare delivery system. The students will learn to leverage the Internet and enablers such as tablets and smart phone to access patient records, order prescriptions and tests, and research the latest treatments. The students will train alongside pharmacy and nursing (CRNA) students, an approach that fosters collaboration and recognizes no one person or profession has all of the answers. Better communication between caregivers and between caregivers and patients will ultimately lead to better patient care and better outcomes.

And that, Youkey said, is the ultimate goal of the USC School of Medicine Greenville.

About the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Greenville
The University of South Carolina (USC) School of Medicine-Greenville is a four-year medical program developed as a partnership between the University of South Carolina (USC) and the Greenville Health System (GHS). Since 1991, GHS has provided clinical education to third and fourth-year medical students of the USC School of Medicine Columbia. In 2009, the decision was made to expand to a four-year medical school. The USC School of Medicine Greenville achieved preliminary accreditation from the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME) in 2011 and welcomed its charter class in July 2012. Learn more at

About the University of South Carolina
Founded in 1801, the University of South Carolina (USC) is a public research university with eight campuses across the state. USC has more than 300 programs of study leading to bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees from 14 degree-granting colleges and schools. As South Carolina’s leading educator, annual enrollment exceeds 45,000 students. USC is one of only 40 public universities to receive the Carnegie Foundation’s top-tier research designation and community engagement designation and receives recognition for its prestigious South Carolina Honors College and undergraduate and graduate International Business programs. Learn more at

About Greenville Health System

Greenville Health System (GHS) is committed to medical excellence enhanced by research and education and is accredited by The Joint Commission. It offers patients a sophisticated network of expertise and technologies through its five medical campuses, tertiary medical center, research and education facilities, community hospitals, physician practices (University Medical Group) and numerous specialty facilities in upstate South Carolina. The 1,268-bed system is home to 14 medical residency and fellowship programs and the state’s largest number of active clinical research trials (613.) For the fourth consecutive year, its flagship Greenville Memorial Hospital has been ranked among the nation’s top 50 hospitals in a specialty area in U.S. News & World Report’s 2012-13 publication of America’s Best Hospitals. GHS is home to the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Greenville. Learn more at