Higher education board approves plan for Arkansas State University's osteopathic medical school

Jul 28, 2014

(Portions of this story provided through a press release from Arkansas State University.)

The Arkansas Higher Education Coordinating Board has granted the New York Institute of Technology certification for an additional osteopathic medical school site on the campus of Arkansas State University in Jonesboro.

Certification for three degrees — the Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine, the Master of Science in Medical/Health Care Simulation and the Master of Science in Neuromusculoskeletal Sciences — is contingent on NYIT obtaining regional and national accreditation

“We appreciate the great cooperation of all of the parties involved in getting us to this point today,” said Shane Broadway, director of the Arkansas Department of Higher Education. “It has required a great deal of time and effort by our staff and that of Arkansas State, NYIT and the State Medical Board. We look forward to seeing great things with this partnership for our state.”

Barbara Ross-Lee, DO, vice president for health sciences and medical affairs at NYIT, said this is another significant milestone for the school.

“We’re grateful to the Higher Education Coordinating Board for its consideration and approval,” Ross-Lee said. “We look forward to our presentation to the Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation in September. The purpose is to educate physicians in Arkansas and for Arkansas.”

NYIT’s College of Osteopathic Medicine operates the largest single-site medical school in the country and is proposing establishment of an additional site at A-State, with the first students enrolling in August 2016 and a target class size of 115 students.

“Collaborating with a nationally respected, well established osteopathic medical school and dozens of partners in the mid-South medical community will enable us to address the shortage of primary care physicians in the underserved Delta,” said Dr. Tim Hudson, chancellor of Arkansas State. “We’re also proud that we can minimize the startup investment while maximizing the transformative impact on our university, community and state. We want to thank the Higher Education Coordinating Board and Director Broadway and his staff, and we look forward to the next important step with the COCA board.”

Dr. Jason Penry is Vice Chancellor for University Advancement.  He tells KASU news the project is a game changer for the area.

“I would say that this project will totally transform our state, our region, and our communities.  One thing that I try to think about is what it will look like in 15 years when the medical school on campus has supplied hundreds of physicians to our communities,” said Penry.   “Some of the students that are in high school today might have a chance that in 15 years from now they are practicing in the communities that surround us.”

He says the Jonesboro’s campus is a perfect location, because the closest osteopathic medical school is at least 300 miles away in all directions.  He says location in Arkansas’ Delta region is also perfect because this area is in need of the physicians that would be produced through ASU’s school.

“This area is a federally designated underserved area, so I don’t think anybody would question the need.  The need is certainly there and we hope to serve our region,” said Penry.  “When you are ranked the lower 40s by way of physicians per capita, that is never a good thing.  We think we will provide a solution with this school.”

The school is expected to open in the fall of 2016, with a target class size of 115 students.  The school will initially be housed in the Wilson Hall until a separate building will be constructed to house the school.  Plans for the new medical school building will start after the Liberal Arts building on campus are complete. 

The medical school has a projected startup cost of $10 million. A-State will invest $4 million to renovate and furnish Wilson Hall, and NYIT will invest $6 million for startup operating funds and faculty in the first three years. NYIT and A-State officials will appear before the American Osteopathic Association Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation and present its application on Sept. 6 in Chicago.