Rethinking medical school

Hofstra North Shore-LIJ develops innovative curriculum


Seated in his expansive, brightly lit office on the Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of Medicine’s second floor, Dr. Lawrence Smith, the school’s founding dean, appears at home, a smile etched across his face as he speaks of the school’s role in transforming medical education.

For Smith, the four-year school is a chance to rethink how medicine is taught from the bottom up. The school, which was founded in 2008 and welcomed its first class in 2011, was built in response to a 2006 Association of American Medical Colleges’ report that warned there weren’t enough medical schools to keep pace with the rapidly growing demand for new doctors as the population ages.

The Jets’ old training center on Hofstra’s north campus was gutted to build the medical school. Where once there were weight rooms, now there are classrooms, including a state-of-the-art laboratory.

In May, Hofstra and North Shore-LIJ officials announced plans to double the school’s footprint, from 50,000 to 115,000 square feet, at a cost of $39.5 million. “It’s a tremendous feeling to stand here and proclaim that we need more room to fully carry out our mission,” Smith said at the time.

While the medical school is cutting-edge, its heart is its student-centered curriculum, said Smith. Students, he said, play a critical role in determining their course of study, and blocks of their days are devoted to independent learning.

Hofstra students will come away with a thorough knowledge of the art, craft and science of 21st century medical care, said Smith. Foremost, though, they must understand the humanity behind medicine.

Medicine, Smith said, “is all about the patients. If it’s all about you, you’ll always be unhappy.”

Medical students, he said, must “be willing to do whatever it takes to become excellent.”

An integrated curriculum

Dr. Keith Metzger, 38, an associate professor in the Science Department, was among the Hofstra medical school’s first full-time faculty members. There are now 40 at the school’s medical education building on the Hofstra campus, with another 1,550 at North Shore-LIJ Health System clinics and hospitals.

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