I'm not big on defending LECOM or it's administration, but here I have to. LECOM is good in that we have crap loads of hospitals all over to go to, meaning you get to leave Erie and never, ever have come back after the first two years until graduation unless you want to or have a family and need/want to stay. You are not just "thrown in" and fight for rotation spots. Students fill out a sheet for their top choices as to area and location. A committe consisting of the class President and students elected from each pathway places students into their choices as best they can. About 85-90% of the students get their top choice of group and location, 100% get one of their top 3 choices for both. Groups have a certain rotation schedule. Some groups start with Surgery, others end with it, and so on for the OB/Gyn, Pedes, elective, etc. Areas for my class included: Erie (includes Buffalo), Central Pa, Eastern Pa, Pittsburgh (includes Wheeling, WVa), Ohio/Michigan, FL, NY, and probably a few other places. We have a huge network. Schedule is designated by LECOM, what area a hospital is in is designated by the student committee with input from students. You are restricted to your rotation schedule unless you ask for permission to change this for that, but you are not restricted to a certain area. You can go to an area outside your "home" area after the students in the area you want to go to have chosen. Hope all that makes sense.
This way, the number of people you are "fighting" with is limited. Most of the time, everything worked out. Most people are able to compromise. "If you guys let me do Surgery here, I'll take what's left for OB..." A great majority of the time, things worked out great, at least for my class. I compromised to do a couple of rotations in West Va so that I could do 3 months of Medicine in West Palm Beach during Spring Break season. Needless to say, I'm happy. Yes, some people were unhappy with this or that, but in the end, it worked out.
In talking to students from other schools at the hospital I'm at now, they wish they had our system instead of the lottery system. At least with our system you have a say instead of putting everything up to chance.
As to adding hospitals, yes the Clinical Ed people are willing. But LECOM is so strict on everything that most places don't want to deal with it. If the Administration had better people skills and the belief that other people's ideas just might be a better idea, we would have an even larger network. But give it a try, couldn't hurt, and if you start now, it just might be available by the time you pick rotations.
I'm sure I'm going to hear some LECOM bashing. Bring it on. I'll probably agree with most of it.