George Mason University Science and Technology Campus in Manassas

George Mason University's Manassas campus

George Mason University is considering adding a medical school to its Prince William Science and Technology campus, according to Dr. William A. Hazel, Jr., a senior advisor for the Office of the Provost at George Mason University.

Hazel recently brought the news of the potential plans to the Prince William Board of County Supervisors. He told them a new medical school could open at the Manassas-area campus as soon as 2022, according to a county press release. 

"We're working hard. It's not a done deal. There's a lot that has to fall into place for it to happen. We do need to get things moving as far as residents, amenities and making sure we have everything we need on the campus," Hazel said during the Nov. 19 supervisors’ meeting. 

A new Mason medical school would fit in with the sci-tech campus in Prince William County and would teach physicians to provide culturally sensitive and personalized care through research and innovation, to use team-based care and to leverage data and technology to drive health-related innovation. A new medical school would also dovetail with existing programs at the university, Hazel said. 

"We already have an undergraduate, pre-med program, but we also have two post-baccalaureate pre-med programs at the science and technology campus. We think we can offer something unique here in Prince William," Hazel said, according to the release.

Hazel also said the country could use more medical doctors, and George Mason University wants to provide them. 

"We clearly have a shortage of physicians in the country today. It is growing. It is not just medical students, but it is a problem with residents, as well; and I think that we also see that the face of medicine is changing." 

A medical school at Mason would have a positive impact on the community and serve as a catalyst in the area of research and innovation while promoting personal and population well-being, Hazel said.

Plans for the medical school got underway in October with data collection implementation, a self-study and curriculum development. By mid-spring 2020, fundraising will continue, and clinical partnerships should be finalized, according to documents Hazel presented to the board. 

Hazel said those partnerships could include cooperation with area hospitals, clinics and medical centers. Patients need to be seen in doctors' offices and hospitals, and medical students need some component of a residency program. 

"That means setting up and having agreements in place for your students to have access to those situations, those environments. We're starting on the development. We're doing all of that while we're working on the clinical partnership and on the funding piece." 

The George Mason University Board of Visitors could approve the hiring of a dean by early summer of 2020 and begin the accreditation process by the end of summer of 2020.

If accreditation is granted and site visits, recruitment, state certification, curriculum approval, admissions and hiring go as planned, the “Mason School of Medicine” could open by August 2022, Hazel said. 

"We're preceding ahead. We'll hope to stay on schedule. Obviously, there are some big pieces that have to fall into place for this to work on multiple paths simultaneously.

The decision to go or not go will depend on things that are probably less related to the study and more related to the availability of clinical partnership and funding, which we're working on separately. I think the next big decision points will happen of over the next five to six months. I think that eventually Mason is going to have a medical school. I think the question is really going to be, 'When?'" 

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