my sister's going into her 4th year at upstate, and she tells me this:
the education you get in both of them is pretty similiar
both ER's will bring you gsw's, since they are both in very bad parts of town
in upstate, most people live in apt. buildings near the school, whereas in downstate, many people just live at home cuz its local for them.
the one major difference is in rotations: in brooklyn, the hospitals are understaffed, so the MS's have to do a lot more boring nurse/aide type work. Which is good cuz it will give you more exposure, but bad cuz its boring work that will leave you more exhausted.
i've interviewed at both schools (accepted to upstate, but not downstate).
first off, upstate is not in a dangerous area of syracuse. sure, syracuse has is pretty bad parts, but upstate is not in one of them. downstate is not in the greatest area (i had my reservations about how safe i'd feel around there), but, again, there are much worse parts of brooklyn.
i liked the curricula at both schools, although i liked downstate's better. it seems a little weird that upstate doesn't have any sort of preceptorship program for 1st/2nd year students. downstate seemed to have a good program of that sort. georgraphically speaking, downstate students have access to a lot more things to do outside of the class than upstate students.
so, it's prob pretty clear that i would have picked downstate, given the choice. that's not to say i don't think upstate is a great school. so, for the op, if you're not from ny and you're only going to pick 1 school, upstate is probably the best way to go (no in-state admiss preference). but, if you have it in your budget, i'd try throwing in downstate too. best of luck.