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.

Other key findings of the Tripp Umbach study include: 

• There is a shortage of physicians in northeast Arkansas and the Delta that will worsen as more than a quarter of Arkansas' physicians retire within the next five years and the state's population ages.

• More doctors will be needed in northeast Arkansas and the Delta as more people have access to the health care system under health care reform and seek preventative care.

• Medical education opportunities are limited in Arkansas, which has only one medical school, and educating students locally is important to keeping physicians in the region.

• The medical school would be "a major driver of the regional economy," creating "thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions in annual net impact to the region." The direct and indirect effect of the school during the two-year startup period would total $69.9 million, providing 317 jobs and adding $2.1 million in taxes to local communities. The regional economic effect is expected to grow to $88 million annually.

Arkansas State announced in June that it was exploring establishing an osteopathic medical school in Jonesboro. In December, it began talks with the New York Institute of Technology, one of the top osteopathic schools in the country, about a partnership. On Tuesday, Hudson said talks with NYIT continue.

Arkansas State isn't the entity considering an osteopathic school. The Fort Smith Regional Healthcare Foundation is conducting its own feasibility study, due in March or April, about starting one. The foundation has about $50 million so far to put toward the project and has the support of the Arkansas Osteopathic Medical Association.

'Whole Person'

According to the American Osteopathic Association, osteopathic medicine emphasizes a "whole person" preventative approach, treating the body as an integrated whole rather than for specific symptoms or illnesses. 

Osteopathic doctors complete four years of medical school and are licensed physicians who can prescribe medication and perform surgery. Most focus on general practice medicine, although DOs can practice in any specialty of medicine.

Many osteopathic doctors serve rural and underserved areas. Osteopathic medical school includes four years of basic medical education with graduate education through internships, fellowships and residencies lasting an additional three to eight years.

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



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