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To improve health care for the citizens of South Carolina, planning for the establishment of the University of South Carolina School of Medicine began in the late 1960s. In 1973, the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education and the State Legislature authorized the University to apply for a grant from the Veterans Administration to assist in the development of the medical school. The grant was approved the following year.
Faculty recruitment and curriculum planning began in 1975, and in 1976 the School of Medicine received provision accreditation from the Liaison Committee on Medical Education of the American Medical Association and the Association of American Medical Colleges. In February 1977 the school was granted approval for admission of its first class of 24 medical students that fall.
The charter class graduated in May 1981, at which time the School of Medicine was fully accredited by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education. Medical student class size has tripled since the entrance of the first class, and approximately 300 medical students are enrolled in the four-year program.
The School of Medicine's educational programs were further augmented by the establishment of the Ph.D. Program in Biomedical Science in 1987, the Master of Science Program in Genetic Counseling in 1985, and the Master's Program in Nurse Anesthesia in 1994. The University's Master's Program in Rehabilitation Counseling was transferred to the School of Medicine in 1994. The Master's Program in Biomedical Science was initiated in 1998. Residency Programs in emergency medicine, family practice, internal medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, ophthalmology, orthopaedic surgery, pediatrics, general and child/adolescent psychiatry, and general surgery are cosponsored with Palmetto Health, the Dorn Veterans Administration Medical Center and the South Carolina Department of Mental Health. A residency program in preventive medicine and fellowship in several clinical specialties are offered by individual School of Medicine and/or affiliated hospital departments.
The School of Medicine's basic science campus consists of fully renovated historic buildings and is located four miles from the Columbia campus of the University of South Carolina. The complex provides teaching and research facilities that are unexcelled nationally. Most clinical departments are located on the Richland Medical Park campus in central Columbia. Affiliated hospitals are Palmetto Health (Palmetto Health Richland and Palmetto Health Baptist), the Dorn Veterans Administration Medical Center, the Greenville Hospital System University Medical Center, facilities of the South Carolina Department of Mental Health.
In 1991 the School of Medicine's affiliation with the Greenville Hospital System University Medical Center was enhanced to provide the opportunity for completion of core third-and fourth-year clerkships and rotations in Greenville. Also in 1991 the first of a growing network of Rural Primary Care Centers was opened in Winnsboro, South Carolina. These centers enable medical students to train alongside students from the University's other health professional degree programs in real-life rural practice settings.
The University of South Carolina School of Medicine has become a national leader in primary care medical education. The School of Medicine also collaborates closely with state agencies involved in health service delivery, sponsors research focused primarily on South Carolina's health care needs, and provides a wide range of clinical care services to South Carolinians.