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School of Medicine Columbia

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Our History

We have been training physicians, researchers and other health care professionals since 1973. Our continued goal is to improve the health care for the citizens of South Carolina. 

Early Years

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, when the School of Medicine in Columbia was fully accredited by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education. Medical student class size has quadrupled since the entrance of the first class, and today almost 400 medical students are enrolled in our four-year program.


Growing the Graduate Program

The School of Medicine’s education programs were further augmented by the establishment of a handful of graduate programs. 


Residency Programs

Residency programs are co-sponsored with Prisma 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 the School of Medicine and/or affiliated hospital departments.

We offer:

  • Emergency medicine
  • Family practice
  • General surgery
  • Internal medicine
  • Obstetrics and gynecology
  • Ophthalmology
  • General and child/adolescent psychiatry
  • Orthopaedic surgery and pediatrics 



The School of Medicine’s basic science campus is located four miles from the Columbia campus of the University of South Carolina on the Dorn VA Hospital campus, in a complex of fully-renovated historic buildings. The complex provides teaching and research facilities that are some of the best in the nation. Most clinical departments are located on the Richland Medical Park campus in central Columbia.

Affiliated hospitals are Prisma Health (including Prisma Health Richland and Prisma Health Baptist), the Dorn Veterans Administration Medical Center, the Greenville Hospital System University Medical Center, the Lexington Medical Center and facilities of the South Carolina Department of Mental Health.

Florence Regional Campus

In 2015, the School of Medicine launched it's Florence Regional Campus. This program gives our third and fourth year medical students the opportunity to live and learn in Florence, to get many opportunities to learn side-by-side with attending physicians and to increase their knowledge of rural medicine. This program is part of the school's mission to decrease the shortage of primary care physicians in rural parts of South Carolina. 


Integrated Ultrasound Curriculum

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 was one of the first medical schools in the country to integrate ultrasound technology in all four years of the medical curriculum.


Community Service

All 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 that pairs medical students with community elders.


Patient Care

We also fulfill our mission to provide quality health care to the people of South Carolina through the Prisma Health-USC Medical Group, which is comprised of nearly 700 physicians and advanced 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/Prisma Health Family Medicine Center, we are addressing the future of patient-centered care today. In fact, we are a leader among U.S. medical schools in percentage of graduates who practice primary care.

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.