ASU Says Study Confirms Need for Osteopathic School

by Mark Carter and Mark Friedman  on Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2014 3:42 pm  

Tim Hudson, chancellor of Arkansas State University in Jonesboro.

The Arkansas State University System said Tuesday that a study it commissioned found that an osteopathic medical school at its Jonesboro campus would help meet a demand for primary-care physicians in the Delta and inject $70 million into the region.

In a news release, ASU Jonesboro Chancellor Tim Hudson said the university is moving ahead with plans to found an osteopathic school. He expects a proposal about how to do so will go before ASU’s Board of Trustees on Feb. 28.

The Delta Regional Authority, which supports ASU's plans for an osteopathic school, helped fund the study conducted by Tripp Umbach, a consulting firm based in Pittsburgh.

"The addition of a new medical school would be a much needed investment into the health, welfare, and economy of northeast Arkansas and the greater Delta region," Chris Masingill, federal co-chairman of the Delta Regional Authority, said in a news release. "We have a dire need for more physicians in the Delta region, as currently 230 of counties and parishes in the Delta are considered to be health professional shortage areas."

Enough Training?

Dan Rahn, the chancellor of the state's only medical school, the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, on Tuesday agreed that there's a physician shortage in Arkansas "with large areas of the state being underserved." But he said he's not sure how establishing a new medical school would address the problem.

Rahn told Arkansas Business that the focus should be on adding more residency slots, not opening another medical school.

"Because otherwise we run the risk of educating new graduates within the state of Arkansas who aren't actually going to contribute to solving the problems in Arkansas," of the physician shortage, he said.

In order to become a licensed doctor, a medical student has to go through a residency program. In 2013, there were 528 graduates nationwide who didn't find a residency program to become a medical doctor, which was double the amount from 2012, Rahn said.

The Tripp Umbach study listed a need to expand graduate medical education and residency training among its findings. It said, "Arkansas State must work with state universities, hospitals, health centers, government entities and businesses to add residency positions statewide."

"Our analysis of hospitals and clinics in the Jonesboro area indicates that a significant amount of clinical activity is present to support the education of up to 120 medical students per class," Paul Umbach, founder and president of Tripp Umbach, said. "About 76 percent of the residency positions are housed in Little Rock with only 24 percent of the state’s total population. The residency position distribution is skewed."

Key Findings



Please read our comments policy before commenting.