Plans for Idaho’s first medical school have begun after the State Board of Education approved a private and public partnership in order to create the institution. Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter announced the partnership that would help create Idaho’s first four-year medical school on the Idaho State University Meridian campus.
The Idaho College of Osteopathic Medicine (ICOM) will be established as part of the Idaho State University’s Meridian Health Science Center. It will be led by founding dean and chief academic officer Dr. Robert Hasty. As president and executive board member for the new institution, John Goodnow will provide the school with guidance and support its new direction, according to a press release issued by the Office of the Governor.
The new school will be governed by local and regional physicians and healthcare executives that will become the board of trustees for the privately funded institution. The Idaho College of Osteopathic Medicine (ICOM) will be required to undergo an accreditation process through the Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation. Once the new institution is accredited, classes are expected to begin as early as August 2018.
Why Idaho’s First Medical School Is Important to the Community
Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter has stated that, in his opinion, the groundbreaking partnership will benefit the wellbeing and health of citizens throughout Idaho and the surrounding region. Governor Otter went on to explain that the new institution will help address the region’s shortage of primary care physicians, particularly in the underserved rural communities that reside in Idaho. These are just some of the potential economic and educational benefits that the new project could provide to local communities.
As the governor went on to explain via the same press release, the Idaho College of Osteopathic Medicine will offer the Idaho State University tremendous partnership opportunities in clinical research and academic programs. The new college will provide an opportunity for Idaho officials to train more healthcare professionals in order to meet the state’s needs for medical staff. It will also help attract more Idaho students into what is a growing healthcare field.
The Idaho College of Osteopathic Medicine can, from this point of view, address the administration’s desire for better career opportunities for Idaho students as well as the states need for more physicians and medical professionals.
Both urban and rural hospitals in Idaho are constantly trying to recruit physicians in order to cater to the growing needs that the state has for these professionals. According to Idaho Hospital Association president and chief executive officer Brian Whitlock, hospitals have been trying to cope with the rising demand for medical professionals by employing several methods.
One of the more successful methods, according to Whitlock, has been to focus on retraining the doctors who had received their medical education and initial training in the state of Idaho. The Idaho College of Osteopathic Medicine will continue to build on the success of this method by increasing the number of students who train and learn within this state. The Idaho Hospital Association representative went on to state that the association will collaborate with any other organization that is dedicated to helping solve Idaho’s significant physician shortage problems. The association is, according to Brian Whitlock, willing to collaborate with the future graduates of the Idaho College of Osteopathic Medicine in order to solve these problems.
The Idaho Osteopathic Physicians Association also supports the regional medical school initiative. According to representatives of the Idaho College of Osteopathic Medicine, the institution has already established clinical affiliations with several reputable health systems in Idaho, Montana, and South Dakota.
What You Should Know About Physician Shortage
The physician shortage issues that Idaho is facing are not isolated cases. According to projections made by the Association of American Medical Colleges, medical personnel shortages are posing problems all across the United States. These projections have shown that, by 2020, the nation will be short of more than 90,000 physicians. This number is expected to grow to 130,000 physicians by 2025.
Current statistics show that one in three physicians that are currently practicing medicine in the United States is over the age of 65 and close to retirement. These physician shortages are expected to impact primary care more than any other specialty. Although some specialties are reporting more acute shortages at the moment, projections anticipate that the United States will require 52,000 more primary care physicians by 2025.
The country’s demand or surgeons and oncologists is also expected to rise by 2025. The number of cancer cases in the United States is expected to rise by as much as 42 percent by 2025. Oncologists are already scarce in rural communities, and 70 percent of U.S. counties do not have medical oncologists at all at the moment. General surgery is also predicted to face major issues, with a shortage of more than 21,400 surgeons expected by the year 2020. This is partly due to the fact that the number of practicing general surgeons is estimated to fall from 3,100 in 2010 to 30,800 in 2020.
There are several factors driving the current and impending physician shortage. Population growth and the aging population are some of these factors, with population growth alone being the reason for requiring an additional 10,000 physicians over the next 10 years. Another 10,000 physicians will be needed over the next ten years in order to care for the aging population. By the age of 65, as many as two-thirds of senior citizens suffer from at least one chronic illness.
Another cause of the physician shortage is the medical residency shortage experienced across the United States. There are very few Medicare-sponsored residency slots and expanding residency capacity is challenging for many health systems. Legislation meant to provide additional residency funding is being drafted, but the existing slots are insufficient at the moment.
The effects of physician shortages are already being felt in many parts of the country. Some areas are already short in primary care physicians, and whether communities have access to care currently depends on geographical location. The problem is expected to get worse. Idaho’s first medical school is an essential first step in fixing the issue.