UVM Medicine to build Connecticut campus

The UVM Medical Center is pictured. An accredited branch of the Robert Larner College of Medicine will be added to the Western Connecticut Health Network campus in Danbury, Conn. The UVM College of Medicine is expanding into another state. Phil Carruthers | The Vermont Cynic

The Western Connecticut Health Network announced its partnership with UVM’s Robert Larner, M.D. College of Medicine to establish an accredited branch campus Feb. 5.

The campus will be located in Danbury, Conn. — about 70 miles from New York City.

“The purpose of this campus is to build on our long-standing academic relationship with the Western Connecticut Health Network,” said William Jeffries, senior associate dean for medical education at UVM.

Resources are limited because of Vermont’s size, Jeffries said.

There aren’t enough patients or doctors at the UVM Medical Center and in the rest of the state to train all of the University’s students, he said.

UVM’s need for out-of-state sites has been prevalent for at least the past 30 years, Jeffries said.

“Since 2010, we have sent students to Connecticut for rotations and have appointed over 200 WCHN ,” he said. “This pilot allowed us to align our cultures, to create excellent educational experiences there.”

First-year Danielle Morris, a nursing major, said a branch campus of this nature will allow for more opportunities for future students, but she is unsure of whether or not it’s the correct move.

“I would have liked to see some funding go into more classrooms, giving more room for people to join the nursing major,” Morris said.

Senior nursing students have had their classes in buildings at Champlain College because of the lack of space, she said.

Morris supports expansion, but would have preferred it to have taken place in Vermont, rather than other states because students could wind up not learning in the environment they wish to work in, she said.

“Keep the programs in Vermont and strive for quality over quantity,” Morris said. “Right now, I see more cons when it comes to the branch program.”

Expansion of the WCHN campus is currently in progress in order to allow groups of students to complete their clinical core training requirement entirely in Connecticut, Jeffries said.  

Senior Lida Grabowicz also hopes that the benefits of this campus will extend past just the medical students and faculty members at UVM, she said.

“I imagine the expansion will also provide more jobs for IT professionals and environmental services workers,” Grabowicz said.