Intended for healthcare professionals

Feature Medical Education

A shot in the arm for medical education

BMJ 2013; 347 doi: (Published 12 November 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;347:f6756
  1. Edward Davies, US news and features editor, BMJ
  1. 1New York, USA
  1. edavies{at}

Edward Davies visits a new medical school in Long Island that claims to be doing things both differently and better

The first thing Harvard Medical School tells you about itself on its website is that it was founded in 1782 (, likewise Johns Hopkins (1889) (, and University of California, Los Angeles (50 years old) (

But a small medical school on Long Island, New York, is trying to change the emphasis medical schools have on history and make itself relevant to modern healthcare. Hofstra University’s medical school opened its doors to new students on 1 August 2011, and the first thing it tells you on its website is the desire to do things completely differently.

Building a curriculum from scratch

“Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of Medicine at Hofstra University is ready to be a national leader in Medical Education. We’ve set out not to build a medical school that looks like old ones, but to identify what works and then create a unique medical school on Long Island—one of the most ethnically diverse, immigrant-rich communities in the world—and set a precedent for the future in medical training.”

It’s the first medical school to open in New York for several decades and dean Lawrence Smith was clear from the start that the set-up and curriculum for the school would not be bound by tradition or history, but by the needs of the modern doctor.

“We could do anything we wanted,” says Smith, speaking to the BMJ. “Nobody had ever done anything. There were no traditions that we had to change and push back. We were free to really build the school the way we saw fit.”

“Our decision was that if we were going to make a mark nationally quickly it had to be in how we taught medical students to become doctors. …

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