Geisinger expands its reach even further with medical school acquisition

Photo courtesy of Geisinger Health System

Pennsylvania’s Geisinger Health System will acquire The Commonwealth Medical College, an independent medical school in the northeastern part of the state, adding medical education under its umbrella of services.


TCMCBoards at both institutions approved a comprehensive integration agreement earlier this month, the first step in a multi-month process to bring TCMC, which opened in 2008, into the fold, officials said Wednesday,

The acquisition is awaiting regulatory approval from local, state and accrediting agencies. Leaders at both organizations emphasized that move will strengthen the two institutions, giving TCMC students access to the laboratories and staff of Geisinger during their studies and creating a flow of possible physicians into the Geisinger system.

“We will exceed every student’s expectations,” Geisinger CEO David Feinberg said at a press conference announcing the move.

TCMC Dean Steven Scheinman will remain in his role, and the college’s regional campuses and academic partnerships will remain untouched, Feinberg said. The union has been in the works since the beginning of this year, Scheinman said, though, the college had been looking into potential partners for longer. The financial specifics of the move were not released.

Geisinger was the right fit because of geographic proximity and a similar approach, he said, and the discussions so far have been “a smooth process and one of a shared vision and shared faith.”

With access to Geisinger’s cutting-edge genomics research, TCMC will also add two master’s degrees in the field to its offerings, Scheinman said. Ideally, he said, the college will also add more master’s degree programs in fields like population health and spin off a separate graduate school.

Feinberg said incorporating medical students into the health system’s research and operations will expand and promote future innovation in the healthcare industry, as it will produce young doctors who have been immersed in the latest patient-centered care initiatives. Having medical students as part of the Geisinger system will also unite training protocols and bring trainee doctors and nurses together--giving each a chance to work with their counterparts before going into the field.

Scheinman said that working with a system like Geisinger also will encourage medical students to think about innovating the industry in a way that other, more longstanding medical schools won’t. “It’s very difficult to innovate in an organization that has long traditions of how they do it,” he said.

More healthcare systems are expanding their reach to medical schools. Kaiser Permanente, the nonprofit HMO and health system, plans to open a new medical school in Southern California in the fall of 2019.