The New York Institute of Technology College of Osteopathic Medicine at Arkansas State University bid farewell to its first graduating class on Thursday, with a virtual commencement ceremony.
NYITCOM at A-State was Arkansas’ first osteopathic medical school when it opened in 2016.
“I couldn’t be happier for our students, for our staff and our faculty who have worked so hard to get there, to get to this point. It's a great day all around,” Campus Dean Shane Speights told Arkansas Business. “Our partnership with Arkansas State University; the things that we're doing at ASU are just great. The things that we've got in the pipeline that we're working on, the partnerships in terms of new programs that we're working on … I promise you the best is yet to come. We will continue to see these graduates, what will happen is they will come full circle.”
Enrollment at NYITCOM at A-State is fixed at 115, but Speights said the school is planning to expand its outreach and pipeline programs to get more young people in the region interested in attending medical school.
He said the school began to address health care disparities in the state and in the Mississippi Delta and that half of its first graduating class are going to do their residencies in the Delta.
“So that’s a big deal,” Speights said.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson was among those who delivered pre-recorded messages to the 2020 graduates.
“The health care needs in our state are significant, and NYIT College of Osteopathic Medicine at Arkansas State is diligently working to address many of those issues in a variety of ways,” he told them. “Graduates, it starts with you. Your medical school was founded with a direct mission of training physicians in this region, for this region. We need you here, and I hope each one of you will consider practicing in Arkansas upon completion of your residency.”
Casey Pearce, associate director of external relations and marketing, shared the following:
- Ninety-five percent of the class was accepted into a residency program. This “match” rate beat the average national rate of 90% for all medical schools in 2020.
- One of the region’s biggest needs is its need for primary care physicians. Of this year’s class, 72% were placed into primary care programs, including family medicine (36%), internal medicine (27%) and pediatrics (8%) programs.
- Another 9% were placed in emergency medicine or general surgery programs.
- The inaugural class also fared well in some of the most competitive specialties. Four students matched into anesthesiology programs. Others were placed in ophthalmology, dermatology, orthopedic surgery, interventional radiology and neurology programs.
- Over the last five years, NYITCOM at A-State has worked with hospitals around the state to create residency programs. Thirteen of its students were placed in six programs that didn't exist five years ago, programs in Batesville, Conway, Little Rock, Searcy and Jonesboro.