Medical education for a tenth of the cost

February 17, 2012 3:02:24 PM PST
City College of New York has had a unique program for the past 40 years. It gives students, many from minorities, a combined college and medical education for a tenth the normal cost, but there's a hitch.

It's the stealth medical school of New York, but it's an amazing one despite not being well known. The Sophie Davis School is turning out superb doctors who have a mission to care for the underserved.

This is a class in a unique medical school. Students right out of high school compete for it. It's a seven-year combined program of college and medicine at City College of New York. It's the Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education.

"We provide opportunity to kids from diverse backgrounds, many don't have the opportunity to pursue this kind of, the traditional path," said Dr. Maurizio Trevisan, Dean, Sophie Davis School.

They are students such as Svetlana Kvint, born in Uzbekistan to a family of modest means; she went to Stuyvesant High School. She was accepted at NYU, Columbia, and Harvard. She came to Sophie Davis instead.

"Coming here where you're paying $5,000 a year for an undergraduate education is in itself amazing, and then to have two years of medical school at that cost is not something you get anywhere else," Kvint said.

The second two years of medical school are done at one of the premiere schools in and around New York. Graduates agree to practice primary care medicine for two years in an underserved neighborhood. Hector Florimon wants to practice in Queens.

"There are a lot of health disparities in our community, seeing patients struggle to understand the doctor or the language, that's something this program addresses," said Hector Florimon, a 4th year student.

But it all begins with the basics, such as anatomy class.

At least one of the graduates who went through this anatomy lab maintains a connection to the school and its students.

Orthopedist Leon Popovitz and his family emigrated from Russia. Sophie Davis gave him his career. He gave them back a $100,000 scholarship fund.

"It's the American dream that anyone from any socioeconomic background has the opportunity to become a doctor or anything that they dream of," Dr. Popovitz said.

The program isn't a breeze. 25% of students don't complete the program. These young doctors will also owe New York State $75,000 if they don't complete their two year primary care service.