GRMERC founding members eye changes

March 22, 2009
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There are discussions under way among the principal members of the Grand Rapids Medical Education and Research Center to reorganize its board of directors, change some of its bylaws and, possibly, rename it.

GRMERC was formed in 1999 by Saint Mary’s Health Care, Spectrum Health, Michigan State University and Grand Valley State University for the purpose of integrating clinical research, medical education and health professions education in Grand Rapids. Metro Health Hospital and Ferris State University are affiliated members.

Spectrum Health spokesman Bruce Rossman said the proposed changes have not been finalized and that he couldn’t go into any detail about them until they’re approved by the consortium. Whatever changes may be finalized, he said, Spectrum Health, Saint Mary’s, GVSU and MSU will all remain as principal members of the consortium and MERC will continue to coordinate and regulate graduate medical education here in Grand Rapids.

Why are the changes necessary and what does the consortium hope to achieve by making them?

“I think it’s just part of a natural evolution of the organization,” Rossman said. “This organization really hasn’t changed since the formation of Spectrum Health 10 years ago, but the medical education environment in Grand Rapids has changed significantly since then. They’re just looking at some ways to ensure that we will have strong graduate medical education programs in the future. At this point, that’s about all we can say until everything is finalized and everybody involved is ready to speak with one voice.”  

Rossman said the consortium wants to ensure MERC reflects the changes in medical education that have occurred over the last several years and that it will continue to be a viable organization. The changes will be at the board level and won’t be outwardly noticeable to the community, he added.

“There will be no changes in the fact that medical students, medical residents and physicians will continue to be trained here in Grand Rapids,” he said. “This is just about a few changes at the board level.”

Marsha Rappley, M.D., dean of MSU’s College of Human Medicine, said all members of the consortium hope to achieve a stronger collaboration around medical education. She said MSU is pleased with how the combined effort is proceeding. 

GRMERC is headed by Peter Coggan, M.D, who is also associate dean for graduate medical education and a professor of family medicine at Michigan State University College of Human Medicine and of health professions at Grand Valley State University.

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