Miller, FAU offer new medical school opportunities

The University of Miami will be turning out an additional 64 physicians a year, but not from the Miller School of Medicine.

Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton recently welcomed its first class of four-year medical students on the FAU campus since it built a partnership with the UM’s medical school in 2004.

The idea for a UM/FAU partnership came in 1997, when the chancellor of Florida State University, Dr. Mark Rosenburg, met with UM and FAU representatives to discuss the ways to improve South Florida’s medical education.

“There is a major physician shortage nationwide,” said Dr. Michael Friedland, senior associate dean for Biomedical Programs at FAU. “The population is growing and there are fewer and fewer people in medical school, especially in Florida. As a state, we have the highest rate of physicians reaching retirement.”

Florida Atlantic University opened the Charles E. Schmidt College of Biomedical Science in the summer of 2002, but it was not until 2004 that pre-med students were allowed to register for the two-year regional medical campus.

“The opportunity of expanding the impact of the medical school to larger regions contributes substantially to the reputation of the school, particularly because the programs we are bringing are outstanding,” Dr. Pascal Goldschmidt, dean of the Miller School of Medicine, said.

Students admitted to the UM/FAU program in 2004, 2005 and 2006 have already completed their first two years of medical studies on the FAU campus. After the first two years, students transfer to UM’s campus to finish their last two years of study.

Now that FAU has its own medical center in Palm Beach County with full-time professors, research staff and a planned 265 students for a four-year medical training program, Friedland hopes more college graduates will have the opportunity to study medicine.

“I think students from all over the state will be very interested in coming to this campus to continue their medical education,” he said.

Heather Gabai, a first year medical student in the UM/FAU program, said both schools feed off of each other.

“We associate with FAU but we know that we are UM students,” she said. “I think almost everyone in my class interviewed at both campuses and a lot of them chose to come here.”

Simone Montoya, another first-year student in the program, agrees that both schools gain from the partnership.

“I think UM benefits in extending its influence to Palm Beach County,” Montoya said “The patient population is very different here [than in Miami] and our curriculum is designed for more long-term medical care.”

Both students also mentioned that the close atmosphere and small class size, average of 32 students, adds to the appeal of FAU’s medical program.

“It’s very family-like,” said Gabai. “It’s a Tuesday night, and we just got our tests back, and we are all hanging out together.”

The students who applied for the UM/FAU program underwent the same application process as those who applied directly to the Miller School of Medicine. Students chose which medical campus they preferred, and then wrote an essay about why they chose either FAU or Miller.

Goldschmidt believes UM’s influence in this project will not only increase the number of future practicing physicians in Florida,
but it will also have a positive impact on the South Florida community. FAU medical students are working directly with the Boca Raton Community Hospital, as the Miller School works in collaboration with Jackson Memorial Hospital.

“It gives us the opportunity to access more patients,” Goldschmidt said. “We would like to make sure that Miami and the entirety of South Florida becomes a medical destination where people from anywhere in the US would want to get their care.”

Daniella Dello Joio may be contacted at