Hurricane disrupts medical training, residents relocated

Academic medical leaders unite to get residents and students back on track.

By Myrle Croasdale — Posted Sept. 26, 2005

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As the flood waters from Hurricane Katrina recede, the fate of 2,300 medical students and residents forced to flee their campuses is looking up.

Tulane University School of Medicine and Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center School of Medicine in New Orleans are in the process of relocating to other medical schools, and both plan to begin classes again on Sept. 26. The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education said it has targeted Oct. 1 for residents to be back in training.

Frank Simon, MD, the Liaison Committee for Medical Education's principal secretariat, said the LCME, the American Medical Association, the Assn. for American Medical Colleges and school officials were working together to ensure that medical students would get back into class quickly and would have an educational experience up to LCME standards.

Jeanne K. Heard, MD, PhD, the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education's department of accreditation committees director, said the first concern was for residents and faculty to address their personal needs.

"Don't worry about the duration of absence from training -- the certifying boards will try to be as flexible as they can, so residents won't have to extend their training," Dr. Heard said.

About 1,000 medical residents need training alternatives. Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Miss., moved its 175 residents to other military bases. Tulane plans to place residents in temporary training posts in Texas. LSU residents will likely go to LSU-affiliated clinics around the state.

About 1,300 medical students are being relocated. Tulane, with 630 students, will have its first- and second-year students share Houston facilities at Baylor College of Medicine and the University of Texas Health Science Center. Third- and fourth-year students are being placed in rotations at Houston-area teaching hospitals.

Louisiana State University, which had 688 students at its New Orleans campus, will move its first- and second-year students to its Baton Rouge campus. Third- and fourth-year students will do clinical rotations at LSU facilities.

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