State Higher Ed Board OKs Osteopathic School at Arkansas State

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

The NYIT is partnering with ASU to establish the school, which would enroll its first students in August 2015. The NYIT's College of Osteopathic Medicine is in Old Westbury, New York, where it has more than 1,100 students.

NYIT and university officials will next appear before the American Osteopathic Association Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation and present its application on Sept. 6 in Chicago. 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," Shane Broadway, director of the Arkansas Department of Higher Education, said in a news release. "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."

NYIT and Arkansas State are aiming for an initial class size of 115 students. The medical school has a projected startup cost of $10 million, with Arkansas State planning to invest $4 million to renovate and furnish Wilson Hall, and NYIT investing $6 million for startup operating funds and faculty in the first three years.

"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," Arkansas State-Jonesboro Chancellor Tim Hudson said. "We’re also proud that we can minimize the startup investment while maximizing the transformative impact on our university, community and state."

Arkansas State has one of two osteopathic medical school on the drawing board in the state. The Arkansas Colleges of Health Education of Fort Smith is also working toward establishing a school at Fort Chaffee in Fort Smith.

Last week, Sparks Health System released about $13.5 million to go toward the $75 millon projectThe school is expected to file for pre-accreditation with the Arkansas Department of Higher Education and the national agency this summer.

The Fort Smith school hopes to have 150 students in its first year. It named Dr. Kenneth A. Heiles as its dean in May.