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UK, King's Daughters collaboration to bring medical students to Ashland

  • Category: News
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  • Written By: Erin Bounds

King’s Daughters Health System announced today it is entering into an agreement with the University of Kentucky College of Medicine to serve as a clinical rotation site for medical students and residents.

The collaboration is part of a larger initiative on the part of UK to address the physician shortage in the Commonwealth, including the development of a satellite program in Bowling Green and expansion of the UK Rural Physician Leadership Program in Morehead to a three-year (year-round) medical education program.

Partnership members include UK, King’s Daughters, Morehead State University, Western Kentucky University, St. Claire Regional Medical Center and The Medical Center at Bowling Green.

“We have been talking with the University of Kentucky for the past year about ways we could work more closely together,” said Kristie Whitlatch, president and CEO of King’s Daughters. “During our discussions, we identified a critical need for more primary care physicians here and throughout the state,” she said.

It’s a problem that both King’s Daughters and UK have been trying to solve. This partnership will help address the issue, she noted. “Our goals are compatible: UK wants to accept more medical students and we need more primary care physicians and opportunities for qualified local students to pursue a medical degree close to home.”

Currently, the UK College of Medicine is at its capacity at the Lexington campus and although there is a deep applicant pool for medical students, the college can’t expand enrollment without the help of regional partners.

"The Commonwealth of Kentucky has a shortage of physicians, and especially primary care physicians, throughout the state, but particularly in rural areas. This is an acute healthcare need and an economic one as well," UK President Eli Capilouto said in announcing the initiative Thursday. This collaboration will allow UK to expand college of medicine enrollment in a manner that effectively and efficiently utilizes existing resources throughout the state, he said.

While details of the broad-based initiative are still being ironed out, UK officials have signed memorandums of understanding with the partners.

"This series of partnerships will benefit everyone across the Commonwealth,” said Dr. Michael Karpf, UK vice president for health affairs.

UK will fund the program and hire a program director and faculty to serve in Ashland. King’s Daughters physicians, if interested, will be able to participate as assistant clinical faculty, Whitlatch noted. KDMC will provide classrooms with teleconferencing capabilities so students can participate in MSU and UK lectures.

“We anticipate this collaboration will also support our efforts to recruit physicians across all specialties; as medical school affiliation is very attractive to specialists and subspecialists who want to teach the next generation of physicians,” Whitlatch noted.

Currently, the UK College of Medicine enrolls 521 students including 139 in the most recent admitted class ̶ the Class of 2019. With this new program, UK plans to increase its class size by approximately 30 percent through the expansion.

UK has been partnering for several years with Morehead State University through a Rural Physician Leadership Program, where students complete their third and fourth years of medical training with rural-centered clinical experiences primarily at St. Claire Regional Medical Center.

"We are very proud to be a part of this collaborative effort and we are committed to building programs that support our communities and their future healthcare needs," said Whitlatch said.

"We are also committed to retaining our local talent and providing them with the ability to remain in our communities for their educational experience and hopefully for their entire careers as physicians," she added.