By April Hefner
NASHVILLE, TN — Nashville’s stalwart reputation as the nation’s health care capital grows even stronger today. Belmont University announced recently its intent to start a new College of Medicine in collaboration with with one of the nation’s leading healthcare providers, HCA Healthcare. HCA Healthcare’s Nashville-based TriStar Health will provide clinical elements in support of Belmont’s plans to pursue Liaison Committee on Medical Education(LCME) accreditation for the new college.
Sponsored by the Association of American Medical Colleges and the Council on Medical Education of the American Medical Association, LCME is the nationally recognized accrediting authority for medical education programs leading to the M.D. degree in the U.S. (and Canada). Belmont College of Medicine would seek to become the nation’s 156th LCME-accredited medical school, and its graduates would be well positioned to help fill the significant physician gap anticipated to be felt between now and 2033.
“As seen with all of the efforts observed this week as we prepare to host a presidential debate, Belmont University settles for nothing less than excellence in everything we do. That is certainly our intent with this new College of Medicine, and working with HCA Healthcare, I have no doubts that this program will produce the next generation of health care leaders,” said Belmont President Dr. Bob Fisher. “HCA Healthcare will bring world-class expertise to Belmont’s College of Medicine, offering our students extraordinary faculty instructors and a pathway to residency and clinical placements. A College of Medicine is the natural next step in Belmont’s health care offerings. It’s not an easy step, but it’s characteristic of Belmont University to take on challenges and do big things, and do those things well.”
In addition to being a leading healthcare provider, HCA Healthcare also is the leading provider of graduate medical education in the country. HCA Healthcare’s TriStar Health will provide third year medical students core clinical clerkships and fourth year medical students clinical elective rotations. HCA Healthcare also will provide a pathway to outstanding graduate medical education opportunities for Belmont College of Medicine graduates and will support existing members of the medical staff who may be interested in faculty positions in Belmont’s College of Medicine.
“According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, the shortage of U.S. physicians continues to worsen, and we share Belmont University’s commitment to address this critical need,” said HCA Healthcare CEO Sam Hazen. “We appreciate our long history of collaboration with Belmont, and we look forward to supporting their pathway to be a successful LCME-accredited medical school.”
This new medical school further builds on a lengthy legacy of connections between Belmont and HCA Healthcare, one that traces back to the company’s co-founder Jack Massey, a staunch Belmont supporter. Since those early years, the organizations have worked together on a number of vital initiatives, including the Partners in Nursing Consortium to address a nursing shortage in Tennessee. HCA Healthcare also is working with the University as the local health advisor for the Oct. 22, 2020 Presidential Debate at Belmont.
HCA Healthcare is a leader in clinical and medical education, and its affiliates currently include 58 teaching hospitals. The health system is the largest sponsor of Gradual Medical Education (GME) programs, with more than 4,300 residents and fellows in 272 programs and a growing commitment to medical education. In addition, HCA Healthcare affiliates include Galen College of Nursing, Research College of Nursing and Mercy School of Nursing. HCA Healthcare also has several Centers for Clinical Advancement that provide nursing training in simulation environments.
As the largest and most comprehensive healthcare provider in the region, HCA Healthcare’s flagship, Tristar Health, will provide a vast learning environment for Belmont College of Medicine students and residents.
The academic and clinical expertise HCA Healthcare brings to the table along with the countless opportunities presented by being located in the nation’s healthcare capital aren’t the only advantages Belmont medical students will receive. They will also benefit from numerous interprofessional healthcare opportunities already embedded on the Nashville campus. The University is heavily invested in the health sciences, currently offering degrees in nursing (bachelor’s, master’s and DNP), physical therapy (DPT), pharmacy (Pharm.D.), occupational therapy (OTD) and public health (bachelor’s) as well as an MBA in Healthcare.
Furthermore, the need for qualified, compassionate healthcare practitioners is substantial. According to data published by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) in June, “the United States could see an estimated shortage of between 54,100 and 139,000 physicians… by 2033.” Of those numbers, a shortage of approximately 21,400-55,200 primary care physicians alone are anticipated. Interestingly, the data for this study was gathered prior to the advance of COVID-19 into a worldwide pandemic, an emergent crisis that has demonstrated “the need for a strong and sufficient health care workforce.” Other key findings from the report suggest that physician demand will also be impacted by population growth and aging as well as that “a large portion of the physician workforce is nearing traditional retirement age.”
Belmont aims to help address this coming shortage by welcoming an inaugural class of 150 students, with an expected enrollment of 500-600 students when the College of Medicine reaches full capacity.
Belmont’s strong financial status, impeccable health science academic programs and longstanding commitment to excellence provide the perfect foundation for a dynamic, state-of-the-art new College of Medicine. As next steps, the University will immediately launch a nationwide search for the inaugural dean of the new Belmont College of Medicine. The dean will begin to build a team and initiate the required steps to pursue candidacy status with the Liaison Committee on Medical Education and also establish timelines for potential openings.
A prominent site for a building to house the College of Medicine has been identified, and preliminary plans are being developed for the approximately 150,000 square foot building. More detailed information will be announced at a later date after review and approval by all parties and the accrediting body.