The mission of CUNY School of Medicine (CSOM) at the City College of New York is to train competent, broadly educated, highly skilled medical practitioners who provide quality health services to communities historically underserved by primary care practitioners. CSOM recruits and educates a diverse, talented pool of students to its BS/MD and Physician Assistant programs, expanding access to medical education to students from underserved communities, those with limited financial resources, and those from racial or ethnic backgrounds historically underrepresented in the medical profession. CSOM’s programs achieve academic excellence through rigorous curricula in clinically-oriented basic sciences, population health, behavioral and socio-medical sciences, primary care, research, exposure to a variety of health care settings, and professional development.
The CUNY School of Medicine was founded upon the Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education (SDSBE), a longstanding school of the City College of New York (CCNY). CCNY is one of the senior colleges of the City University of New York (CUNY). The University dates to the founding of the Free Academy in 1847 by Townsend Harris, a successful businessman and first US diplomat to Japan, who set upon a mission to provide public higher education to academically qualified young men. The Academy quickly grew into an expansive campus in upper Manhattan that subsequently became known as the College of the City of New York – presently the City College of New York, the flagship college of the City University of New York (CUNY). Today, CUNY is the nation’s largest public university, consisting of 11 senior colleges, 7 community colleges, an Honors College, and 5 graduate and professional schools including a Graduate Center and schools of journalism, law, professional studies, and public health. The University’s net enrollment exceeds 270,000 students, including 200,000 full-time equivalent students. CCNY offers an affordable education to a diverse student population and strives for excellence in its wide-ranging undergraduate and graduate programs. CCNY is home to the only public schools of engineering, architecture, and biomedical education in New York City, each designed to prepare students for successful careers and for continuing graduate and postgraduate education. The College’s commitment to excellence is exemplified by its emphasis on scholarly research and the integration of research with teaching.
In 1973, CCNY expanded its mission to include the medical education of talented youth from social, ethnic and racial backgrounds historically underrepresented in medicine, and created a baccalaureate degree program in biomedical sciences on an experimental basis. In 1977, the New York State Board of Regents granted approval to offer the program on a permanent basis, and established the Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education (SDSBE), supported by the Commonwealth Fund and by Leonard and Sophie Davis, City College alumni. The biomedical education program was designed to address longstanding challenges of attracting physicians to primary care specialties and to the geographic areasof greatest need. High-achieving high school graduates were admitted to an accelerated program that integrated the requirements for a baccalaureate degree with the content of traditional preclinical medical education. Successful students were subsequently matched to partner medical schools to which they transferred as 3rd-year medical students for their clinical (clerkship) training and conferral of the MD degree. Since its founding, SDSBE has graduated approximately 2,000 students. Ninety-six percent of program graduates have received the MD degree; 40% of graduates are members of underrepresented minority (URM) groups (Black/African-American or Hispanic/Latino).
In 2011, SDSBE embarked on a major strategic planning process to define and determine the course of its future. The principal recommendation that emerged from this process was to transform SDSBE from its existing structure into a fully accredited BS/MD degree–granting medical school, with the three-fold aim of (a) enabling the program to further support and maintain its mission of training primary care physicians who practice in medically underserved communities, (b) ensuring a more seamless transition of our students from the traditional basic science education years to the clerkship phase of their education, and (c) guaranteeing the availability of clerkship slots for its students. In 2012, a group of external evaluators, including leaders in academic medicine and in BA/MD or BS/MD educational programs, reaffirmed that the best approach for allowing SDSBE to ensure its sustainability would be to pursue full accreditation as an MD degree–granting program.
A preliminary proposal to develop an accredited MD program was approved by CUNY’s Board of Trustees in November 2013, and in June 2015, the proposed MD program received preliminary accreditation status from the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME) – the nationally recognized accrediting body for medical education programs in the U.S. and Canada. Authorization to confer the MD degree was granted by the NY State Board of Regents in 2016. In February 2016, the school was renamed the CUNY School of Medicine, and in the fall of the same year, a charter class of 69 students matriculated into the MD segment (Year 4 of 7) of the program.
In addition to the BS/MD program, the School also offers a physician assistant (PA) program leading to the Master of Science degree in Physician Assistant Studies. Established in 1970 as a joint project of the Harlem Hospital Center and the Columbia University School of Public Health, the PA Program is one of the oldest in the country, founded only five years after the birth of the profession. The Program was developed to train individuals with health care experience to practice primary care in communities of greatest need. The first class was admitted in 1971. In 1972, the Program developed an academic affiliation with Antioch College which continued until the New School for Social Research assumed responsibility from 1974-1978. In 1978 the Program developed a partnership with the Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education of the City College of New York (CCNY), as an upper-division baccalaureate program, and in 2016, transitioned its undergraduate curriculum to a graduate level program of the CUNY School of Medicine.
Accreditation and Affiliation
The CSOM is a division of the City College of New York (CCNY), which is accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools, an institutional accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. The most recent reaccreditation was granted on November 21, 2013.
In 2015, the CSOM received preliminary accreditation status from the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME). The PA program received full accreditation status from the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA) in 2014. The CSOM awards three degrees (conferred through CCNY): the BS in Biomedical Sciences; the BS and effective 2017, the MS in Physician Assistant Studies; and effective 2020, the MD degree.