Gov. Otter: "This is a golden opportunity..."

Posted at 3:27 PM, Feb 25, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-25 19:26:31-05

With approval from the State Board of Education, Governor “Butch” Otter Thursday announced a new public-private partnership to create Idaho’s first four-year medical school at Idaho State University’s Meridian Health Science Center.

The Idaho College of Osteopathic Medicine will be led by Dr. Robert Hasty, founding dean and chief academic officer. John Goodnow will support the new school’s direction as its president and executive board member.

The privately-funded school will be governed by a board of trustees consisting of local and regional physicians and healthcare executives. The ICOM will undergo an accreditation process through the Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation, and classes are expected to begin in August 2018.

“I’m confident that this groundbreaking partnership will benefit the health and well-being of citizens throughout Idaho and the region by helping to address our shortage of primary care physicians -– especially in Idaho’s underserved rural communities,” the Governor said, citing the potential educational and economic benefits. “This is a golden opportunity for us to train more healthcare professionals to meet our statewide needs while also attracting more Idaho students into the growing healthcare field. It’s a once-in-a-generation chance for Idaho to address both our desire for better career opportunities for Idaho students and our need for more physicians.”

“Today’s announcement provides tremendous opportunities for Idaho State University to partner with the Idaho College of Osteopathic Medicine on clinical research and academic programs,” ISU President Art Vailas said. “This partnership will benefit the state and contribute to ISU’s healthcare mission, core themes and strategic plan. We are excited to have a strong partner who will create future opportunities for our faculty, staff and students.”

“Idaho hospitals -– urban and rural –- are constantly working to recruit physicians to meet our growing needs,” said Brian Whitlock, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Idaho Hospital Association. “One of our most successful methods has been to retain those doctors who received their medical education and training here in Idaho. The Idaho College of Osteopathic Medicine builds on that success by increasing the number of students who learn and train in Idaho. We look forward to working with the ICOM and all others dedicated to addressing Idaho’s significant physician shortage issues.”

The Idaho Osteopathic Physicians Association also supports the ICOM.

“We began this regional medical school initiative over a year ago and have already established clinical affiliations with outstanding health systems in Montana, South Dakota and here in Idaho,” Dr. Hasty said. “I want to express our sincere appreciation to Governor Otter for his invitation, leadership and understanding of the osteopathic medical education model –- especially its success in primary care placement in rural America.”