Pioneer in community-based medical schools enjoys “symbiotic relationship” with Michigan communities

Feb 24, 2021

Bill Beekman, vice president and director of Intercollegiate Athletics at Michigan State University, welcomes Aron Sousa to MSU Today. Sousa is dean of the College of Human Medicine and a colleague of Beekman’s “from many, many years ago when I spent time in the college, myself.”


MSU’s College of Human Medicine was a pioneer in the area of community-based medical schools. Third and fourth-year students do their clinical training in hospitals around the state.

“That philosophy that the best place for people to learn to be a physician is with the people they will eventually be taking care of stays with us,” Sousa tells Beekman. “And our dedication to those communities is a part of what makes us different and special. We were leaders in that. Almost every medical school now has some sort of community experience and there are more than 80 medical schools across the country that now think of themselves, at least in part, as a community-based medical school.

“We were real innovators. It's been a great thing for our students. They get great training with people who they will eventually take care of. Most of our students end up practicing in Michigan after they've finished their training. And our communities have been incredibly generous and thoughtful. They've been interested in having the college do more there, and that has led to development of research and economic development opportunities for people in those communities. It's been a really great symbiotic relationship.”

Sousa highlights the college’ public health work in Flint and the growing research presence in Grand Rapids. He talks about MSU’s new partnership with the Henry Ford Health System and about the college’s continuing focus on the Greater Lansing area.

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