Partnership will expand university’s medical education offer to western Pa.

A new partnership will establish a four-year medical school campus in Pittsburgh.

Although he was recruited from the University of Texas to head Temple’s health system, Larry Kaiser still has his eyes set west – on Pittsburgh.

A recent university announcement indicated that the new senior executive vice president for health sciences, dean of the School of Medicine and CEO of the Temple University Health System will oversee a new partnership between the university and the West Penn Allegheny Health System.

The new partnership will establish a four-year undergraduate medical school campus at WPAHS, in Pittsburgh, scheduled to begin in 2013. Thirty students are expected to be accepted for the campus’ first class.

While the system currently serves as a clinical campus for Temple students in their third and fourth years, the partnership will allow students to study in Pittsburgh from the start of their medical school education.

Brian Dzenis TTN Allegheny General Hospital will provide a clinical education environment for medical students studying in Pittsburgh.

“It allows us an opportunity to…offer medical education to some of the people of western Pennsylvania,” Kaiser said.

“It offers some alternative to the University of Pittsburgh, which takes most of its students from out of state,” Kaiser said. “Our commitment is to take a significant number of students from in state.”

Expanding the university’s offer for a medical education is also important, Kaiser added, because of the “shortage of physicians, especially primary-care physicians,” in Pennsylvania.

The school’s classroom environment will be located at 4 Allegheny Center, while the Allegheny General Hospital will be used for the primary clinical education.

Although the center is already standing, plans to revamp and equip the building with state-of-the-art classrooms, laboratories and technology are also in the works. Kaiser said WPAHS will be financially spearheading the renovation project.

Kaiser highlighted the recent transaction in which Highmark, a health insurance company, purchased WPAHS and, at the same time, earmarked $75 million for medical education.

“I think Highmark has really made a statement about their value of medical education, especially in that part of the state,” Kaiser said, noting that this will benefit the new partnership.

The university plans to hire new faculty to complement the basic scientists currently at the WPAHS, Kaiser stated. Clinical faculty will consist of already-practicing physicians at the Allegheny General Hospital.

“We think this is a great partnership,” Kaiser said, “it is part of our strategy to have these regional campuses.”

Angelo Fichera can be reached at afichera@temple.edu.

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