Danville, Pa.-based Geisinger Health System announced Wednesday that it has acquired the Commonwealth Medical College, based in Scranton, Pa. The school will give Geisinger a pipeline of future doctors.
Geisinger, which currently employs 30,000, will retain all 1,200 faculty members at Commonwealth Medical and its approximately 200 students. The system will also support operating costs and expansion at the institution.
When asked about financial terms of the agreement, Dr. Steven Scheinman, president and dean of the college, said “it is not possible to attach a specific dollar figure to this commitment but it is very substantial.”
The acquisition not only gives Geisinger an opportunity to train future doctors but “retain and recruit” physicians, said Dr. David Feinberg, president and CEO of Geisinger.
The 12-hospital system recently said it is trying to fill 1,500 open positions for physicians, nurses, clinicians and other support staff. Geisinger currently has a medical residency program with about 500 doctors and some graduates of Commonwealth Medical have already begun enrollment in the program, Feinberg said.
Commonwealth Medical is an independent, four-campus school that prioritizes recruiting students from local communities that plan to stay in the area, Scheinman at Commonwealth said. The college opened in 2008 with funding from state, federal and philanthropic sources.
Also as a result of the acquisition, the college will develop new graduate programs and offer two master's degrees focused on genomics. Geisinger has participated in research to study genetic data including a study with more than 110,000 participants that is intended to help researchers understand the relationship between genes and diseases.
The college will also offer a master's program focused on population health.
During a press conference, Feinberg referenced Kaiser Permanente's efforts to build a new medical school from the ground up. He said the system “is going to have to go through a lot of growing pains” before the school is fully established. He added, “We have a really big head start.”
Feinberg said Commonwealth was an ideal partner because it is geographically close, emphasizes the importance of community health and the curriculum prepares students for the future of healthcare.
The students spend 75% of their education in clinical settings. The institution partners with more than 25 hospitals and systems in the area. The new affiliation with Geisinger will not affect those partnerships.
The college also offers programs focused on community health like the Family Centered Experience Program, which pairs medical students with families over the course of two years so they can better understand and communicate with patients in the future.
Feinberg said it was Commonwealth Medical's “innovative” curriculum that appealed to the system.
Students at Commonwealth will also have access to Geisinger's clinical settings and research labs.
The college will change its name to reflect its affiliation with Geisinger but leaders have not yet decided on what it will be. The integration of the two organizations is expected to take several months.