History

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 provisional 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 today approximately 340 medical students are enrolled in our four-year program.
The School of Medicine’s education programs were further augmented by the establishment of the Ph.D. program in Biomedical Science in 1981, 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, general surgery, internal medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, ophthalmology, orthopaedic surgery, pediatrics, and general and child/adolescent psychiatry 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 fellowships 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 (including Palmetto Health Richland and Palmetto Health Baptist), the Dorn Veterans Administration Medical Center, the Greenville Hospital System University Medical Center, and 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 University opened its first Rural Primary Care Center in Winnsboro, S.C. Since then, two additional Rural Primary Care Centers have opened in Kershaw and Bennettsville. These centers enable medical students to train alongside students and faculty from the University’s other health professional degree programs in real-life rural practice settings.
Continuing our tradition of innovation in medical education, the University of South Carolina School of Medicine has become a national leader in primary care medical education and is the only medical school in the country to integrate ultrasound technology in all four years of the medical curriculum. Additionally, medical students are given the opportunity to participate in a variety of community outreach activities that are focused on developing patient communication skills and basic exam proficiency, including a yearly student-hosted community health fair and a nationally recognized Senior Mentor Program, which pairs medical students with community elders.

We also fulfill our mission to provide quality health care to the people of South Carolina through our clinical practice plan, University Specialty Clinics, which is composed of a team of more than 200 faculty physicians and health care providers. From the Department of Neurology’s clinically advanced stroke care and research to the recognized quality-focused health care model of the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine/Palmetto Health Family Medicine Center, we are addressing the future of health care today.