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ETSU, King medical schools considering collaboration

Rex Barber • Jan 28, 2013 at 10:05 PM

East Tennessee State University’s Quillen College of Medicine may one day train Virginia students in Abingdon, Va., if discussions being held now come to a suitable conclusion.

Philip Bagnell, medical dean at ETSU, said a memorandum of understanding was signed recently to look at the possibility of establishing a Quillen presence in Abingdon, Va., with the collaboration of King School of Medicine, Inc.

King School of Medicine, Inc. was established to set up and oversee the King School of Medicine & Health Sciences Center. The entity is not affiliated with Bristol-based King University, though the school first proposed a medical college under its leadership back in 2008. This venture was turned over to King School of Medicine, Inc. Abingdon was chosen as the site of this new school, which has not yet been established.

“From Quillen’s point of view, I view us as the region’s medical school,” Bagnell said. “And from my perspective that extends beyond state boundaries. It extends to our culture. And we are an Appalachian culture. And so we have a role to play throughout our region, from my perspective. And to have a community that is 35, 45 minutes from us, interested in having medical education in their community and have us not interested in being involved with them doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. We should if at all possible play a role in that.”

With the memorandum signed, the process moving forward will involve discussing exactly what kind of relationship, if any, develops between Quillen and King School of Medicine, Inc.

“And from my perspective we would be looking at a satellite, I’ll use that word for lack of a better word,” Bagnell said. “We would be looking at joint branding. It certainly doesn’t need to be just ETSU, but we need to be a part of it. I think where we would be in total agreement is that I would be looking, from Quillen’s point of view, to having Virginia students become medical students with a Quillen T-shirt. And that would be critically important.”

This discussion will also involve the governments of Tennessee and Virginia as each will have to approve any agreement between Quillen and King School of Medicine. Concerns over Virginia money staying in Virginia and Tennessee money staying in Tennessee are likely to be points of concern, Bagnell said.

Now representatives from both Quillen and King School of Medicine will visit various places to look at models that may fit with what ETSU and King could do.

To that end, a visit to a location in Georgia is planned in the next few weeks. After that the discussion will likely involve where students come from, who pays for the students, and who selects the students.

Bagnell said if any deal is struck it must give benefit for both Quillen and King.

In such a deal, ETSU would expand its reach in the region and expand residencies, which is important for the growth of a medical school.

Bagnell said Quillen residencies would hopefully be a part of the King partnership in Abingdon.

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