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Study: ETSU med school contributed nearly half a billion to state economy

NET News Service • May 16, 2009 at 12:00 AM

JOHNSON CITY — East Tennessee State University’s James H. Quillen College of Medicine contributed nearly half a billion dollars to Tennessee’s economy in 2008.

According to the results of a study by ETSU’s Steb Hipple, an economics professor in the College of Business and Technology, the College of Medicine contributed $437.8 million to the state economy, created more than 3,800 jobs and increased family incomes by $162.6 million in the same period.

The impact is measured in terms of output, which is the additional production of goods and services that can be attributed to the college.

The study encompassed the College of Medicine, its Department of Family Medicine, ETSU Physicians and Associates and the impact of Quillen alumni who are practicing in Tennessee.

The college itself directly provided a $107.4 million impact to the economy, with $22.8 million and $56.9 million for the Family Medicine and Physicians and Associates, respectively. Graduates of the college generated $66.7 million for the Tri-Cities region alone and a total of $128.2 million for the entire state. Resident physicians who completed their training at ETSU added $59.1 million to the region and $122.4 million to the state.

Dr. Philip Bagnell, dean of the College of Medicine, said he asked Hipple to conduct the study to mark the 35th year of the college. He did not expect such a huge economic impact.

“I’m delighted,” Bagnell said. “It’s quite good. Quite nice. It’s our 35th year ... And we’re matured and come a long way. We are accredited ... And I thought we’ve not looked back at what continuous impact we’ve had on the community.”

The school has graduated 1,400 medical students in its history, 45 percent of whom have remained in Tennessee. The school has also had 778 residents complete their training at Quillen. Of those residents, 42 percent have set up their practice in Tennessee.

Bagnell said he has a framed newspaper article outside his office that details the fight to bring the medical school to Johnson City. One argument back in the middle 1970s against the school was that it was a waste of state dollars.

“And I think there’s data to show this was a wise commitment of state dollars,” Bagnell said.

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