The IUP plans to create a school of osteopathic medicine

Indiana University in Pennsylvania could open the state’s first school of osteopathic medicine at a public university, a venture to train and graduate professionals to improve rural health and advance the economy of the Pennsylvania.

A resolution that would authorize the public university, which is part of the public higher education system, to explore the school’s possible development is expected to be presented to the IUP board later Thursday for consideration.

Officials say the initiative would help address a pronounced national shortage of primary care physicians, especially in rural areas, noting that qualified medical students across the United States are outstripping available places in medical schools. .

They note that 57% of doctors of osteopathic medicine practice primary care medicine and that one in five works in rural areas.

IUP trustee chairman Samuel Smith was in a meeting Thursday before the public session and was not immediately available. University officials also had no immediate comment.

Establishing the school would involve a lengthy approval process for accreditation and substantial flows of outside funding beyond that currently available to the IUP. State system leadership as well as campus officials may revisit the idea during exploration, the resolution says.

He also pointed to a range of potential benefits.

Currently in Pennsylvania, there are osteopathic medical schools only on private campuses, including one under construction at Duquesne University. Catholic university officials said they hope to enroll the first students there in August 2023, and Duquesne president Ken Gormley also pointed to a shortage of family doctors.

“There is no school or college of osteopathic medicine at any public university in Pennsylvania,” the IUP resolution states. “Osteopathic medicine at IUP would provide affordable pathways for pre-med students from throughout the Pennsylvania state higher education system, who are likely to remain in Pennsylvania to practice professionally.”

It notes that “IUP is one of 93 public universities in the United States with a high research activity designation (and) strong existing science and health programs, with 30% of its students enrolled in STEM -H (science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and health sciences) majors.

It also says IUP has a “strong and growing partnership with the Indiana Regional Medical Center, a strong, independent rural hospital.”

Officials said the idea is in line with the mission of the state system, as set out in Law 188 that created public universities in 1983 from a collection of state colleges.

State system officials, including Chancellor Daniel Greenstein, have spoken of the need to develop new, high-demand programs in areas that benefit the Commonwealth and – by extension – could help universities, including IUP, to reverse a decade-long decline in enrollment.

Currently, enrollment at the 10 public universities totals 84,556, down about 29% from its 2010 peak of nearly 120,000 students. Like other regional systems, particularly in the Northeast and Midwest, the trend has been fueled at least in part by fewer high school graduates, a rapidly changing market and cost of higher education.

In addition to IUP, the 10 public universities include PennWest University and Slippery Rock in western Pennsylvania, as well as Cheyney, Commonwealth University of Pennsylvania, East Stroudsburg, Kutztown, Millersville, Shippensburg, and West Chester.

Bill Schackner is a staff writer for Tribune-Review. You can contact Bill by email at bschackner@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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