Team examines the possibility of a medical school for Mason

For the past year, Bill Hazel, senior advisor for innovation and community engagement at George Mason University, has been looking into the possibility of adding a medical school to the university.

“There are many faculty who are very enthusiastic and like the idea of having a medical school,” said Hazel. “The question is, can we find a way to make it work?”

Hazel has held three town halls, with another to come, to discuss the feasibility study for a possible George Mason University School of Medicine to serve the Northern Virginia area. A fully accredited school of medicine could be situated at the Science and Technology Campus in Prince William.

In a recent presentation, Hazel said a medical school would be a great addition to for a few reasons. First, Northern Virginia is one of the only major regions without a medical school. Nearby medical schools such as Georgetown, George Washington and Howard are all in Washington, D.C.

Mason’s diversity is also a significant advantage. “One of the things that the health care pipeline has looked at is just the diversity of people going into it, the cultural competence,” said Hazel, “and I think we have the ability to do some unique things in that area.”

He added that Mason already has robust programs in science, technology and health fields. Mason will soon be home to the only college of public health in Virginia, and it already has strong programs in nursing, psychology, biomedical sciences, engineering and technology.

For Mason, said Hazel, a medical school would expand our ability to meet both the demand for degrees and the need for physicians, related to the university’s educational mission. This school could create synergy with the other schools already established at Mason by creating a multidisciplinary learning and research environment, he said.

“Think about a degree as an ‘MD plus’ where you earn your MD degree, but during elective time, there's a concentration that allows some sort of recognition or specialty in fields,” said Hazel.

Hazel noted, however, that there are challenges to establishing a medical school, which include understanding the direction a new university president will want to lead.

He said next steps include initiating the Liaison Committee on Medical Education Data Collection Instrument and identifying clinical partners. Once a new president of Mason is identified, that person would choose the dean and the university would start fundraising activities, Hazel said.

The presentation slides are available on the Faculty Senate website. Hazel will host another town hall for the Mason community from 3-4 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 25, in Robinson Hall, Room B113.