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Niagara Falls Memorial expands training opportunities with LECOM

Nick Lippa
WBFO news

The Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (LECOM) has agreed to a 10-year commitment with Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center that will enhance their graduate medical education programming. Presently, Memorial has 13 medical students with LECOM. Starting next July that number will double.

Popularity for the program has risen over the past ten years. The first class that begins at LECOM’s Elmira campus July 1, 2020 has close to 1000 applicants for just four openings.

“You’re creating more health care. You’re creating a steady supply of doctors to replenish those who retire or leave or positions right now that are simply unfilled,” said LECOM Associate Dean of Academic Affairs Richard Terry. “You’ll have more students here to fill this residency. You’ll create more interest in doctors ultimately deciding to stay and practice in Niagara County and right in the city of Niagara Falls.”

Niagara Falls Memorial has a 40-year history of educating and training new doctors, but it was ten years ago LECOM began supporting them through faculty development and quality student applicants to make the program stronger. This led to the residency program becoming accredited by the American Osteopathic Association.

“This has really been a natural progression of our relationship to building on the quality of the clinical training that occurs at Niagara Falls Memorial Hospital,” said Terry.

Memorial President Joseph Ruffolo said an expansion of the current program is also a boon for the local economy.

“So market rate housing is going to be a need and the continued development for good housing in downtown Niagara Falls, it kind of serves a catalyst for a resurgence.”

Ruffolo hopes this will allow future medical professionals to get acquainted with the region for at least a year.

“It enhances our workforce development site. And it ensures additional physicians once they finish medical student education and residency programs,” he said. “Hopefully we can latch on to some of them and keep them here.”

Each medical student goes through clinical rotations not only in family practice, but in internal medicine, OBGYN services, emergency services, psychiatry, and more.

“So you can see the vast amount of experience and exposure that they get as a medical student that helps them determine if they want to go in to family practice or they want to be a specialist as they further their education,” Ruffolo said.

Credit Nick Lippa / WBFO
Richard Terry—Associate Dean of Academic Affairs at LECOM At Elmira (Middle), Joseph Ruffolo—President at Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center (Right)

Nick Lippa leads our Arts & Culture Coverage, and is also the lead reporter for the station's Mental Health Initiative, profiling the struggles and triumphs of those who battle mental health issues and the related stigma that can come from it.