Louisiana Oks med school license for Louisiana-Monroe

Posted at 4:36 PM, May 26, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-26 17:36:52-04

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) – Future doctors could be trained in Monroe by 2021.
The Louisiana Board of Regents has approved an initial license for the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine to open a new branch on the campus of the University of Louisiana at Monroe.
The News-Star reports the three-year operating license for the private, non-profit university was approved earlier this week.
"While the process is not complete, I am optimistic we have the right partner with VCOM," ULM President Nick Bruno said. "This is huge for our region, the state and ULM."
Louisiana currently has three medical schools – LSU Health Sciences Center Shreveport, LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans and Tulane University in New Orleans.
VCOM began in 2001 and has campuses in Virginia, South Carolina and at Auburn University in Alabama. President and Provost Dixie Tooke-Rawlins said during Wednesday’s board meeting that part of its mission is to train physicians for rural areas that tend to be "underserved" or face doctor shortages like the Louisiana Delta region.
Last June, the board’s Committee for Planning, Research & Academic Affairs approved an initial license for a different college to operate a medical school at ULM. However, deputy commissioner Larry Tremblay said the New York Institute of Technology’s application was withdrawn so the school could concentrate on its two existing College of Osteopathic Medicine campuses.
VCOM plans to build a 100,000-square-foot (9290.3 square-meter), $31 million building on Louisiana-Monroe’s campus to house the college, breaking ground as early as September.
"This is all being done at no cost to the state," Tremblay said. "… Plus, it is bringing tremendous economic development into the state" in the form of students, faculty, clinical rotation jobs and more.
Tooke-Rawlins, who has a Doctor in Osteopathic Medicine degree herself, said most with the degree go into primary care, which is increasingly needed as more medical students choose to specialize.
Although most physicians in the U.S. hold a Doctor of Medicine, about one in 10 have a DO, and that number is growing. Doctors of osteopathic medicine are licensed physicians who practice in every medical specialty, according to the American Osteopathic Association.
Faculty are to be employed in 2020 in advance of enrolling the first entering class of 150 to 162 students in fall 2021, according to the application. The branch first will undergo an accreditation process with the AOA.
It is to be a four-year medical school with classroom work the first two years followed by two years of clinical work. Following graduation, students enter residencies that can last three to seven years, depending on the specialty, according to Regents documents.
The schools have started developing clinical affiliations and residency slots locally and as far as Lake Charles. The application states that the local Monroe community can provide clinical experiences for up to 100 third-year students annually.
Thanks to a collaborative agreement, medical students will have access to ULM services like the library, student union and recreational facilities. VCOM will purchase services like internet from the university.
Regents will monitor the school’s progress annually, and after three years, leadership will come before the board to determine if the license will be renewed, Tremblay said.