October 4, 2008

Med School teams with Evanston hospital to diversify student training

The University’s Pritzker School of Medicine is now affiliated with NorthShore University HealthSystems, creating opportunities for a substantial number of medical students to train outside of Hyde Park beginning next summer, according to University officials.

NorthShore, which changed its name from Evanston Northwestern Healthcare last month, was affiliated with Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine for the past 78 years. NorthShore consists of three Illinois teaching and research hospitals in Evanston, Highland Park, and Glenview.

All Pritzker students must take a clinical skills course and participate in a clinical clerkship during their third year. The affiliation with NorthShore provides University students with additional opportunities to complete these requirements.

While medical students can receive their clinical training at the University of Chicago Medical Center in Hyde Park, which will remain the primary training site for the school, to fulfill those requirements, Pritzker Dean of Medical Education Holly Humphrey said that NorthShore offers much needed educational diversity for Pritzker students.

“One of the Medical School’s organizing principles is to keep a balanced portfolio. Health care is a complicated topic—it’s very expensive and it’s organized in a lot of different ways,” Humphrey said. “We operate in an urban setting, and they’re a suburban institution. There are things to be learned about those different kinds of systems.”

While Pritzker maintains academic affiliations with other hospitals in the Chicago area, the latest deal is the largest they’ve signed since the late 1980s. Humphrey said that the scale of NorthShore’s system made it distinctly appealing.

“Rather than sending two [students] here and two there, we like to have a critical mass of students at a site that can interact and learn with one another at the same place we’re sending our residents,” Humphrey said. “It helps the overall interchange on all levels.”

Senior Vice President at NorthShore J. P. Gallagher said that NorthShore benefited from the deal as well.

“[Pritzker] continues to focus on making itself distinctive without necessarily becoming bigger,” Gallagher said. “Northwestern is not in as strong a standing nationally. They’re not as established in quaternary services.”

In addition to formalizing programs for clinical training off-campus, academic affiliations generally entail collaboration on research projects, Gallagher said.

NorthShore ended its affiliation with Northwestern in June after Northwestern asked for more money than North Shore was willing to spend to maintain the relationship, Gallagher said. Northwestern also wanted more say in NorthShore’s research and teaching programs.

At that point, NorthShore began talking to several medical schools in Chicago and out of state about becoming affiliated, including Pritzker. But, according to Humphrey, the U of C didn’t consider their initial offer.

“We didn’t think they were serious because they had such a long-standing relationship—78 years—and many faculty there were graduates of Northwestern, so we never took them very seriously,” Humphrey said with a laugh.

But when she realized that the offer was legitimate, Humphrey called a meeting of the other deans to push for acceptance.

To avoid the problems that terminated NorthShore’s affiliation with Northwestern, Pritzker will not ask for any money from NorthShore, and the two institutions will split research costs equally, NorthShore Chief Executive Mark Neaman said in a June interview with the Evanston Review.

While the deal between the two institutions was reached in July, NorthShore is undergoing a year-long phase-out of Northwestern students. Pritzker expects their medical students to begin rotations in July 2009.