JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Arkansas State University and the New York Institute of Technology are one step closer to bringing an osteopathic medical school to Jonesboro.
A team from the New York Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine Educational Consortium (NYCOMEC), an entity of NYIT, visited hospitals in Region 8 Monday in an effort to establish residency programs for the future medical school students.
The team met with everyone from chief administrators to current residents of St. Bernards Medical Center to see what types of residency programs would be available to graduates from the new school.
"Our purpose today in coming to St. Bernards was to gauge the commitment, capacity, interest, potential faculty for various residency programs that could be established under our sponsorship," said Dr. Abraham Jeger, the NYCOMEC visiting team chair.
St. Bernards currently offers a family medicine residency program, but NYCOMEC hopes to work with the hospital to offer more specialties like internal medicine, emergency medicine and more.
"We're trying to see which departments have adequate faculty to serve as program directors, clinical supervisors and really exploit what is a lot of untapped education potential," Jeger said.
Their goal is to set up a curriculum where students will be able to enroll at Arkansas State for their undergraduate degree, go straight into medical school and stay close by for the third step: residency.
Dr. Jeger said this would encourage more graduates from Arkansas State and other osteopathic medical schools nationwide to complete their residency here and stay here.
"Hopefully a significant majority will stay for residencies in the region and ultimately practice here and serve the people of Arkansas," Jeger said.
St. Bernards is a prime example of this. Sixty to 70 percent of the students who train there, stay there.
"They know the area, they like the area," said Dr. Shane Speights with St. Bernards. "It's a pretty easy sell for Jonesboro. So keeping them in our community is really a plus for everybody. It's a win-win."
Dr. Speights is part of that statistic himself.
"I went to medical school in Kansas City and did my residency here," Speights said. "So I'm a product as one of those physicians that trained here at St. Bernards in Jonesboro and then stayed in the area."
Dr. Speights said he stayed because of the quality of health care.
"The resources they had and the type of physicians they were producing, it was a no-brainer," Speights said.
He said the continuum of education from undergraduate to medical school to a residency program is an unparalleled opportunity for current undergraduate and high school students to consider.