As reported by Academic Medicine, Volume 81(4), April 2006.

University of Connecticut School of Medicine

By Carolyn Pennington

The idea of opening a public medical school in Connecticut was first suggested in the 1950s. After years of discussion, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation of Battle Creek, Michigan, gave the University of Connecticut (UConn) more than $1 million to help plan the school. In 1961, the UConn School of Medicine finally became a reality after being approved by the state legislature. Today the medical school is part of the UConn Health Center campus, which occupies 162 acres on a wooded hilltop in Farmington, a scenic suburb of Hartford.

The school's first students graduated with their doctoral degrees in medicine in 1972. Today, the program has more than 300 students and provides postgraduate training for more than 550 residents each year. The school has 85 basic science and 300 clinical faculty. Additionally, more than 2,100 volunteer clinical faculty participate in the school's educational programs. On average, 99% of our students seeking residencies are matched with a program, compared to the national average of 94%. Of the roughly 2,500 students who have graduated from the medical school, more than a third of them practice in Connecticut.

The UConn Health Center is the only academic medical center in the nation whose medical and dental schools were founded concurrently. Medical and dental students share a common basic sciences curriculum during the first two years of their four-year degree programs.

The medical school has been nationally recognized for its unique curriculum, which contains no departmental courses or clerkships. Instead it is organized into ten interdepartmental and multidisciplinary courses. Since the new curriculum was fully implemented in 1999, student performance has significantly improved.

Another unique component of the curriculum is the Student Continuity Practice. Students are assigned to physician offices throughout the community, where they spend one day a week during the first three years of medical school. This exposes the students to patients in a continuity setting early in their training and allows them to become increasingly involved with patient care as their knowledge and skills develop.

The UConn School of Medicine is a leading research center, awarded nearly $100 million in research funding annually. The school is involved in a broad array of world-class research activities in cardiology, rheumatology, bone formation, cancer, orthopaedics, and numerous other areas. About 70% of graduates have participated in a formal research project, gaining the opportunity to learn critical thinking and experimental design, and to present their work nationally.

UConn students volunteer more than 10,000 hours a year in the community. There are three student-run clinics for the homeless in downtown Hartford. Students have participated in establishing violence prevention programs, AIDS education in the schools, fitness programs in adult daycare centers, health screenings of migrant workers, and projects to improve prenatal nutrition.

The UConn Health Center has been authorized $300 million in state funding for several projects over the next ten years, including new research facilities, a major renovation of academic space, and a new student center.