Yellen Announces Marist Health Quest School of Medicine
“This is really going to be a big game changer for us at Marist and for the whole region.”
These were the words of Marist College President David Yellen following a news conference on Wednesday, Sept. 12, when he announced the Marist Health Quest School of Medicine.
The college is collaborating with Health Quest, which describes itself as a “family of nonprofit hospitals and healthcare providers in the Mid-Hudson Valley and northwestern Connecticut,” according to the company’s website.
Both Marist and Health Quest will be creating the first M.D.-granting institution located between the Albany and Westchester County areas.
Regarding the decision behind the creation of a medical school, President Yellen said, “there’s a growing need for physicians in the country between the aging of the baby boom population and the retirement of the baby boom-era doctors. It’s a real growth area.”
In the official announcement, Yellen remarked that the Marist Health Quest School of Medicine will be a “forward-looking medical school that combines the rigors of traditional medical training with the power of cutting-edge artificial intelligence.”
When it comes to the integration of artificial intelligence into the curriculum, Yellen explained that “anything where there’s a value in absorbing mass amounts of information, digesting it, and coming up with [a] pattern in trends, artificial intelligence can do that better than the human mind, and that’s beginning to happen in medicine. It’s at the very early stages…but everyone knows it’s going to be dramatically more important in the years and decades ahead, so we’re going to be in a position to get a head start on all of that.”
The Marist Health Quest School of Medicine will be located at Vassar Brother’s Medical Center, a two mile drive down Route 9 South from the traditional campus. Construction on the building itself is not scheduled to begin until the spring of 2019 and is anticipated to be completed by the 2021 winter, according to a timeline posted on the new school’s website.
The medical school’s webpage also asserts the project to cost approximately $184.8 million in 10-year start-up costs, with $110 million in operational costs and $75 million in building costs.
According to Yellen, Health Quest will be funding the costs for the facility’s construction, however, the school will share any other operating costs necessary for completion.
The 100,000 square foot school will be equipped with amenities such as faculty offices, laboratory space, classrooms, and “all the things you would traditionally expect to have in a medical college,” according to Health Quest CEO Robert Friedberg.
Friedberg also shared that this is the first time Health Quest is partnering with a higher education facility for the purpose of program creation.
He explained that the company normally interacts with students undergoing rotations for clinical studies, including those involved in Marist’s Physician’s Assistant program. But when it comes to participating in the creation of a medical school, Friedberg stated that “this is a natural fit for us.”
“At Health Quest, we are so proud to be a part of this community,” said Friedberg. “This is, for us, just another transformational step about how we look at transforming the way healthcare is being delivered in this community.”
The announcement of the new school of medicine has garnered a lot of attention, not just in the Hudson Valley community, but also among undergraduate students and faculty members.
“The Marist Health Quest Medical School is an exciting advancement for Marist College and the Hudson Valley,” shared Dr. Alicia Slater, Dean of the School of Science. “It is a testament to the strength of our existing graduate health programs. The medical school will elevate Marist’s national profile and help us continue to attract excellent students at all levels.”
“I think it’s exciting of course for any school to announce that they ha[ve] a med school,” said a junior student who wished to remain anonymous. The student, enrolled in the School of Science, also commented, “[But] I think Marist is biting off more than they can chew. They do not even have enough science professors [for undergraduates]; also in the science department there are many adjuncts. With that said, it will for the future be a good idea long-term, but short-term it is difficult.”
Several upperclassmen science students also shared their disappointment in not being able to see the finished school of medicine, as it is anticipated to open its doors to the first class by 2022.
In terms of undergraduate students being able to utilize and interact with the medical school, “that remains to be seen,” said Yellen.
Aside from educating the next generation of health practitioners, the Marist Health Quest School of Medicine is projected to serve as a quality resource to the Dutchess County community.
Yellen stated citizens of the Hudson Valley will have access to top-quality patient care with a newfound attraction of high-quality physicians to the area. Additionally, the medical school is expected to create more than 100 full-time jobs and several other part-time opportunities.
“Having a local medical school is a game changer as we work to transform healthcare here in our local area,” said New York State Senator Sue Serino, who was in attendance for the announcement of the school’s premiere. “Moving our community forward will take committed partners at every level, and this is a great example of the progress that can be made when stakeholders think outside the box and use innovative ideas to address local needs.”
“By transforming the way the next generation of doctors are trained, we seek to help transform the way healthcare is delivered,” said Yellen. “And with many of these doctors standing right here in our region, we will bring world-class, patient-standard medicine close to home.”