UNC decides to move ahead with osteopathic medical school

GREELEY — The University of Northern Colorado has decided to take the next step to establish an osteopathic medical school at the Greeley campus. It will be a not-for-profit enterprise within the university if all goes as planned.

The UNC trustees voted Nov. 12 to take the next steps, which include applying for applicant status with the Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation and hiring the founding dean of the college. The dean would be hired after receiving state authorization to proceed with the project, according to a press statement from the university.

UNC president Andy Feinstein provided the trustees with the results of a feasibility study at the group’s recent meeting. The study’s recommendation was to pursue development of the school.  

“Our university was founded 132 years ago in response to the need for teachers in communities across Colorado. Today, we find ourselves positioned to meet another critical challenge that will shape the health, strength and growth potential of Greeley, Weld County and the state for many years to come,” Feinstein said in the statement. “To be clear, there are still a number of gates that we will need to pass in order for this to come to fruition. However, my optimism and excitement about the possibility of UNC creating a new medical school to meet the needs of our community continue to grow.”   

The university noted that Colorado does not produce enough physicians to meet current and future needs, nor does it meet the demand for students who want to pursue medical education. Population growth plus pending retirements of physicians are driving factors creating a shortage of physicians in the state. According to the Health Resources and Services Administration, only 34.6% of the state’s need for physicians is met. Additionally, the Association of American Medical Colleges predicts a shortage of up to 139,000 physicians across the U.S. by 2033. These and a number of other findings were compiled in the donor-funded feasibility study by the consulting firm Tripp Umbach.  

Other key findings in the study included: 

  • The Robert Graham Center forecasts that by 2030, Colorado will need an additional 1,773 primary care physicians, a 49% increase compared to the state’s 2010 primary care physician workforce.   
  • Colorado needs more doctors, specifically in rural areas. The osteopathic medical profession has a tradition of providing care where patients lack doctors. More than 60% of students at peer rural D.O. programs are from their home state and remain in the state to practice after graduation. 
  • This past year, the number of osteopathic physicians in the U.S. rose to nearly 135,000, an 80% increase over the past decade. Both allopathic (M.D.) and osteopathic (D.O.) medical schools teach students the scientific foundations needed to become licensed physicians, but they take different approaches. Allopathic medicine focuses on diagnosing and treating medical conditions, while osteopathic medicine focuses heavily on prevention. 
  • The development of an osteopathic medical school would have a positive impact on other health science programs at UNC, including the university’s programs in nursing, audiology, public health, biomedical sciences, health sciences and behavioral sciences.  

Cost to create the medical school may run about $135 million, the university statement said. That would include the cost of new facilities, expenses associated with pursuing accreditation and the hiring of faculty and staff, and an escrow account required to meet accreditation obligations. The start-up funding to support the project will primarily come from external sources, including philanthropic support. Once the medical school has been established, it is expected to generate enough revenue to be self-supporting, the study said. 

UNC has already secured the majority of potential clinical rotation sites; Banner Medical Group and Banner’s Northern Colorado hospitals will participate in that function.  

“The development of an osteopathic medical school at UNC will develop a much-needed pipeline of physicians to support the region’s growing population,” Dr. Brian Davidson, Banner Medical Group Western Region physician executive, said in a written statement. “Banner is excited about its role in providing a substantial number of core clinical rotations for third- and fourth-year medical students and giving our current team members that chance to help cultivate the next generation of physicians,” he said.

Margo Karsten, Banner Health Western Region president, was an early participant and supporter of discussions about the school. “The project has been a true collaboration across several public and private sectors. It will benefit the economy and add to the quality of life in Greeley and Weld County.”  

UNC is also working with other health care providers to secure additional placements. 

If all goes as planned, the first class of students in fall of 2025.

© 2021 BizWest Media LLC 

GREELEY — The University of Northern Colorado has decided to take the next step to establish an osteopathic medical school at the Greeley campus. It will be a not-for-profit enterprise within the university if all goes as planned.

The UNC trustees voted Nov. 12 to take the next steps, which include applying for applicant status with the Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation and hiring the founding dean of the college. The dean would be hired after receiving state authorization to proceed with the project, according to a press statement from the university.

UNC president Andy Feinstein provided the trustees with the results of a feasibility study at the group’s recent meeting. The study’s recommendation was to pursue development of the school.  

“Our university was founded 132 years ago in response to the need for teachers in communities across Colorado. Today, we find ourselves positioned to meet another critical challenge that will shape the health, strength and growth potential of Greeley, Weld County and the state for many years to come,” Feinstein said in the statement. “To be clear, there are still a number of gates that we will need to pass in order for this to come to fruition. However, my optimism and excitement about the possibility of UNC creating a new medical school to meet the needs of our community continue to grow.”   

The university noted that Colorado does not produce enough physicians to meet current and future needs, nor does it meet the demand for students who want to pursue medical education.…