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East Tennessee State University


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The primary mission of the Quillen College of Medicine is to educate future physicians, especially those with interest in primary care, to practice in underserved rural communities. The College is also committed to excellence in biomedical research and is dedicated to the improvement of health care in Northeast Tennessee and the surrounding Appalachian Region.
The Quillen College of Medicine endeavors to meet community and regional health needs by identifying, creating, and executing the necessary programs through the utilization of its diverse resources. The College is a significant health care provider for East Tennessee. Given this responsibility, the College emphasizes primary care as the focus of medical practice and training programs. The primary care physician is defined as the physician of first and continuing contact, coordinating the patient's complete care. Primary medical care is a function rather than a discipline. This care is provided by family physicians, general internists, general pediatricians, and obstetricians/gynecologists. In addition to meeting the clinical and service responsibilities, the College also supports a significant research endeavor.
The Quillen College of Medicine has an experienced and qualified faculty in the biological, behavioral, and clinical sciences. In addition to the full-time faculty, several practicing physicians in the community participate in the educational process as part-time and volunteer faculty.
Students at Gatton work with faculty members to design experiments and test hypotheses, making meaningful discoveries in health care. Gatton offers Postgraduate Training Programs in Community Practice, Ambulatory Care, and Internal Medicine Residencies and 2-3 year Fellowships in practice-based research and prescription drug abuse.
East Tennessee State University's Quillen College of Medicine serves along with the College of Nursing, College of Clinical and Rehabilitative Health Sciences, Gatton College of Pharmacy, and College of Public Health as the region's health sciences center. Only 2 universities in America can boast of the same mix of health care programs on the same campus.
In just three decades, the College has developed into one of the nation's leading schools for rural and primary care medicine, an honor consistently recognized by U.S. News & World Report.
Securing legislative approval of the school did not come without challenge, without controversy, or a fight. Some regard the battle to bring a medical school to East Tennessee as one of the most dramatic chapters in Tennessee politics history.
In the late 1960s, on the ETSU campus, when one of the first meetings was held to discuss the idea of establishing a medical school here. In the fall of 1961, Burgin E. Dossett, President of East Tennessee State College, began subtle lobbying for a medical school. The drive for a medical school gained additional momentum in 1963 when East Tennessee State College became a university. Three years later, in March 1966, the first public announcement was made revealing the plans for obtaining a medical school for Northeast East Tennessee.
In 1968, Dr. D.P. Culp was appointed president of ETSU, and his stated primary goal was to establish a medical school. Understanding that the help of Congressman Jimmy Quillen would be vital if the dream for a medical school were to be realized, Dr. Culp and numerous others solicited and secured his support. Joining Congressman Quillen in the fight for the ETSU medical school were State Representative P.L. Robinson, ETSU Dean of Health John Lamb, Johnson City attorney Mark Hicks, then-Speaker of the House Ned McWherter, newspaper publisher Carl Jones, State Senator Marshall Nave, State Representative Gwen Fleming, ETSU President D.P. Culp, Johnson City Physician Dr. Charles Ed Allen, and State Representative Bob Good.
A 1971 study by THEC concluded that it was not cost-effective to have a medical school in Northeast East Tennessee. The Board of Regents supported this study. Soon after this disappointment, a new avenue for the Tri-Cities contingent opened.
Officials hoped to win approval for the College of Medicine through new federal legislation that was being introduced. In April 1971, U.S. Congressman Olin Teague of Texas introduced a bill to create five medical schools in conjunction with established VA hospitals or affiliated with medical colleges. Senator Alan Cranston of California introduced a companion bill. They were known as the Teague-Cranston Act; the proposal called for creating five new medical schools in five states to meet the needs of the medically underserved areas of the country. Congressman Quillen introduced a crucial amendment to the Teague Bill, one requiring that any university to be considered for acceptance into this pilot program must be on government property contiguous and adjacent to a VA hospital. The bill passed both houses without a dissenting vote in October of 1972. President Nixon signed the Teague-Cranston Act on October 24, 1972, at 12:30 p.m.
In Tennessee, Senator Nave called for consideration of the Upper House's medical school legislation on February 14, 1974, and the Upper House approved it. Four days later, the bill failed to get a majority vote in the Lower House. Representatives Robinson and Good called in their political chips, and on February 28, the measure was passed. The bill was presented to Governor Dunn, and as expected, he vetoed it. Senator Nave and Representative Robinson immediately made motions in their respective houses to override the Governor's veto. Once again, both sides called in favors and made promises of future support to sway the necessary votes their way.
The Senate overrode with a comfortable 18-13 vote on March 6, and the House needed only to follow suit to enact the law that would make a free-standing medical school at ETSU a reality. Representative Robinson needed to collect at least 50 votes to supersede Governor Dunn's veto. On March 12, 1974, the state Legislature overrode the Governor's veto by a vote of 51-37, with the decisive vote cast by Speaker of the House Ned McWherter.
Victory for the region, higher education, and improved health care had been achieved. On August 21, 1978, the first class of 24 students arrived on campus. Four years later, in May of 1982, those 24 students walked across the stage to be hooded as M.D.s and graduate from the College of Medicine. In attendance as commencement speaker was The Honorable Ned McWherter, now Governor of Tennessee.
Founded in 1974 on a mission to train primary care physicians and increase the number of doctors in rural communities, the Quillen College of Medicine, with more than 2000 graduates, has remained true to its original mission. Thirty-five years later, Fitzhugh Mullan published his innovative "social mission" research in the Annals of Internal Medicine, demonstrating that Quillen is ranked first in the nation for primary care graduates.
Approximately 65 percent of our students and 51 percent of our residency graduates are practicing in primary care. Moreover, 22 percent are serving in rural, traditionally underserved areas. That is more than double the national average.
Many students tell us they chose the Quillen College of Medicine because of its small class size. Only 72 students are admitted each year, which is less than half the size of some medical school classes. Most of our students come from Tennessee, and they tend to stay close to home when they graduate, with more than half of our medical school and residency graduates now practicing in the Volunteer State. Our current students range in age from 21 to 53. Moreover, even though the number of men in medical school is higher than women across the nation, we have more women enrolled here at the Quillen College of Medicine.
Research is at the core of our mission. We have been fortunate to recruit several nationally and internationally known scientists in the areas of cardiovascular disease, oncology, neuro-cardiology, infectious diseases, and primary care. The presence of the Quillen College of Medicine has led to dramatic changes and advances in health care in the Tri-Cities Tennessee/Virginia. Our clinical practice, ETSU Physicians and Associates, offers more than 40 specialties and sub-specialties in medicine, surgery, women's health, pediatrics, and psychiatry. Many of those specialized services are not available anywhere else in the region.
As a major academic health center, our goal is to bring research discoveries immediately to the patient's bedside. We hold affiliations and partnerships with some of the world's most prestigious research institutions, including St. Jude Children's Research Hospital and the Vanderbilt Ingram Cancer Center Network. We have been designated as an HIV/AIDS Center of Excellence for Tennessee.
The changes and innovations affected by the James H. Quillen College of Medicine have encompassed so much more than just the health care professions. It is unlikely that the individuals who fought so hard to establish this College could have foreseen the level of growth and expansion of the Tri-Cities region that has taken place. While the original dream may have been achieved, the Quillen College of Medicine still promotes a vision for the Tri-Cities that will continue to lead and guide this region far into the future.
Many scholarship programs are available to assist students in various fields of study. Scholarships are intended to assist students in finding the direct costs of their higher education. Full scholarship support at ETSU is defined as those scholarships, or combinations of scholarships, which provide the current costs of education, including tuition and standard fees, a semi-private room in a residence hall and meal plan (i.e., the Resident Advantage Plan), and $1000 per semester for books and other incidental fees.

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