Another Osteopathic Medical School for Arkansas Under Consideration

by Mark Friedman  on Monday, Jan. 6, 2014 12:00 am  

Frazier Edwards

It is in talks with the New York Institute of Technology to see if they can agree on opening an osteopathic medical school on the Jonesboro campus.

“Preliminary results of the feasibility study are very encouraging,” Jeff Hankins, a spokesman for ASU, said in an email in response to questions. He said he expects to receive and release the final study this month.

“The need for more primary care physicians throughout the Delta is clear, and Arkansas State is well positioned to help fulfill the need,” Hankins said.

There would be enough students to support both schools, said Boyd Buser, vice president for health affairs and dean of the University of Pikeville-Kentucky College of Osteopathic Medicine. “There are enough aspiring candidates,” he said. “I don’t think that’s an issue.”

There are about 82,000 osteopathic physicians in the United States, according to the American Osteopathic Association. But only about 300 of those are in Arkansas.

Osteopathic doctors are licensed physicians and can prescribe medication and perform surgery.

There are 26 colleges of osteopathic medical schools across the country with more than 20,000 students.

For now, ASU and the Fort Smith Regional Healthcare Foundation are not coordinating their efforts.

“This is not a competition thing … as far as I’m concerned,” said Fort Smith’s Parker. “We’re trying to do what’s in the best interest and welfare of this region that we serve.”

ASU is “happy” to work with any group about the proposed school, Hankins said. “The bottom line is that Arkansas needs more primary care physicians, and serving the Delta is our primary focus,” he said. “If two new medical schools emerge, then both would be producing more physicians and driving the state’s economy.”



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