DePaul to form alliance with medical school

DePaul will start a “strategic alliance” with the Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science (RFUMS) to bolster their respective medical programs, the university is expected to announce Wednesday. 

Located in North Chicago, RFUMS specializes in medical science programs for graduate students, whereas DePaul offers mainly undergraduate programs. DePaul professor Phil Funk, who helped plan the alliance, said it was an opportunity for the two universities to work together.

“For DePaul, it gives our students a very clear set of pathways into professional healthcare that we simply (didn’t) have,” said Funk.

The alliance will make it easier for DePaul students to transfer credits and curriculum to RFUMS, and will give DePaul students a “first look” and a “significant advantage” in getting admitted to RFUMS, according to Funk. Additionally, the universities are developing a system that would allow medical students to study at DePaul for three years, then apply to and potentially attend RFUMS in their fourth year. 

Funk pointed out how University of Chicago, Northwestern University and Loyola University have both undergraduate and graduate medical programs.

However, Funk said DePaul and RFUMS were “still in many ways separate.” DePaul’s senior vice president of enrollment and marketing David Kalsbeek said the alliance would “provide exciting new opportunities for DePaul students.”

The alliance is based on a five-year initial agreement, after which the universities will re-evaluate the partnership. RFUMS is currently administering three online courses for DePaul, and Funk said RFUMS professors might utilize videoconferences to communicate with students.

DePaul biological sciences professor Jingjing Kipp said DePaul’s partnership with RFUMS will aid both students and professors at the universities.

“The partnership will increase students’ research opportunities through summer internships at Rosalind Franklin, and this kind of outside of classroom experience is extremely valuable,” said Kipp.

“On the other hand, the partnership will encourage DePaul students to seek towards more advanced medical and biomedical degrees at Rosalind Franklin University. Rosalind Franklin will therefore benefit from our pool of quality students. Finally, this partnership will also foster potential collaborations among faculty members from both institutions, which has been the global trend of scientific research.”

Some students, however, were not convinced the partnership would be beneficial. DePaul senior Tom Matt, a biological sciences major, said he thought the alliance was detrimental.

“I don’t think it should be easier to get into [RFUMS] just because you went to DePaul,” said Matt. “Anytime you make something easier, it lowers quality … And with something like medical school, students shouldn’t go with what’s easiest, but what’s best.”

Likewise, an anonymous biological sciences graduate student expressed concern about RFUMS’ reputation. “It doesn’t seem like the most prestigious school. The stigma is that Rosalind Franklin does not have their own hospital. I wonder if DePaul students are going to get preferential treatment.” (RFUMS is affiliated with Mount Sinai Hospital).

Hanna Fox, also a biological studies graduate student, said the alliance makes DePaul more appealing, and gives DePaul’s curriculum more credibility. “I thought DePaul’s program really prepared me for a career in healthcare and its good to see that they’re taking steps to broaden the program.”

RFUMS, formerly known as Finch University, has a total enrollment of about 2,000. RFUMS is comprised of five schools: The Chicago Medical School, the College of Health professionals, the Dr. William M. Scholl College of Podiatric Medicine, the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, and the College of Pharmacy.

DePaul Chair of Biological Sciences John V. Dean and Student Government Association president Caroline Winsett had no comment on the partnership.