ASU looking into osteopathic medical school

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) – As the population of Northeast Arkansas expands so does the need for doctors and nurses to take care of them. Now Arkansas State University is exploring the possibility of public-private partnerships to establish an osteopathic medical school.

The announcement came Tuesday from Chancellor Tim Hudson. ASU System President Charles Welch authorized the study in which university leaders will look at existing osteopathic medical schools to see if ASU could develop such a school.

According to ASU, doctors of osteopathic medicine or D.O. are fully trained physicians who complete four years of medical school and are licensed by state medical boards to prescribe medication, perform surgery and practice in all recognized medical specialties. The university states these physicians also incorporate manipulative treatment, meaning the use of hands to diagnose, treat, and prevent illness or injury.

According to the State Medical Board, Arkansas has 450 active D.O. license holders, including 265 who currently practice in Arkansas.

Hudson states the university is considering partnering with existing private D.O. schools, which is a common and successful practice in several states, according to ASU. Many D.O. schools are privately funded.

The university states the closest D.O. schools to Jonesboro are nearly 400 miles away in Tulsa, OK and Hattiesburg, MS.

"With this concept, we would not seek state funding," Hudson said in a news release from ASU. "The school would generate revenue through tuition, research, and external support."

A report concerning the effort to establish such a school is expected to be compiled before the end of the year by Hudson, according to ASU.

Here are some facts about osteopathic medicine released by ASU from the American Osteopathic Association:

• Doctors of osteopathic medicine practice a "whole person" approach to health care. Instead of just treating your specific symptoms, osteopathic physicians concentrate on treating you as a whole.

• Osteopathic physicians receive special training in the musculoskeletal system so they better understand how that system influences the condition of all other body systems. In addition, D.O.s are trained to identify and correct structural problems, which can assist your body's natural tendency toward health and self-healing.

• D.O.s help patients develop attitudes and lifestyles that don't just fight illness, but also help prevent disease.

• To become a D.O., an individual must graduate from one of the nation's osteopathic medical schools, accredited by the American Osteopathic Association's Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation. This accreditation is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.

• The curriculum at osteopathic medical schools consists of four years of academic study. Reflecting osteopathic philosophy, the curriculum emphasizes preventive medicine and comprehensive patient care. Throughout the curriculum, osteopathic medical students learn to use osteopathic principles and osteopathic manipulative treatment to diagnose illness and treat patients.

• After completing osteopathic medical school, D.O.s obtain graduate medical education through internships, residencies and fellowships. D.O.s specialize in all areas of medicine, ranging from such primary care disciplines as family medicine, general internal medicine and pediatrics to such specialized disciplines as surgery, radiology, oncology and psychiatry.

• D.O.s are complete physicians, fully trained and licensed to prescribe medicine and to perform surgery.

• Many D.O.s incorporate osteopathic manipulative treatment into the care they provide. With OMT, osteopathic physicians use their hands to diagnose illness and injury and encourage your body to heal itself.

• D.O.s are one of the fastest growing segments of health care professionals in the United States. By the year 2020, more than 100,000 osteopathic physicians are expected to be in active medical practice.

• Approximately 60 percent of practicing D.O.s specialize in such primary care fields as family medicine, general internal medicine and pediatrics.

• D.O.s represent more than 6.5 percent of the total U.S. physician population.

• Many D.O.s fill a critical need by practicing in rural and other medically underserved areas.

• D.O.s have treated U.S. presidents and Olympic athletes.

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