The Journal of the Arkansas Medical Society Med Journal May 2019 Final 2 - Page 6

by CASEY L. PENN Osteopathic Medical Schools in Arkansas Working to Lessen Future Shortages, Increase Access to Care U ntil 2016, Arkansas had only one medical school. Founded in 1879 and still the only tradi- tional (allopathic) medical school in the state, the UAMS College of Medicine is a comprehensive academic medical center that plays a vital role in edu- cating Arkansas physicians. Today, how- ever, Arkansas is also home to two more medical schools, both osteopathic in nature. This month, we bring you an update on the state’s osteopathic medical schools, New York Institute of Technology College of Osteopathic Medicine at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro and Arkansas College of Osteopathic Medicine in Fort Smith. Osteopathic and allopathic schools both of- fer a means to become a licensed physician in this nation. NYITCOM at Arkansas State medical students Matt Gorecki, Mirsha Stevens, Katherine Byrd, and Jay Patel. In addition, osteopathic medical schools tend to produce more primary care physicians.* “DOs can – and do – enter any specialty from neuro- surgery to radiation/oncology,” said Dr. Speights. “However, about 60% of DOs, nationally, migrate to generalist specialties (family medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics, general surgery, OB/GYN, emergency medicine). When we talk about the needs of the state, shortages in those general areas really stand out.” They educate through many of the same courses – gross anatomy, biochemistry, pharma- cology, pathophysiology, etc. In addition, they share similar degree paths consisting of two years in the classroom and two more in rotation, followed by three-plus years of residency. The osteopathic difference is indicated by the term itself, as NYIT- COM Dean Shane Speights, DO, A Medical School with a explained. The term osteopathic Heart for the Delta denotes an emphasis on the struc- NYITCOM at A-State oper- ture and function of the human ates through a public-private part- body coupled with manipulative nership between Arkansas State medicine. “On the osteopathic side, University and NYIT College of we embrace the whole body,” he Osteopathic Medicine in Old West- said. “In my opinion, this can also bury, New York. The A-State cam- occur in allopathic schools; it’s just pus is accredited for 115 students that we put that at the forefront. We have an osteopathic manipulative per class, and by the fall of 2019, medicine lab and a common belief will reach full capacity at 460 to- Shane Speights, DO that the body has the innate ability tal students. The applicant pool is to heal itself if given the chance. That’s not to say quite large, while the acceptance rate is tiny, just that DOs don’t prescribe medications (antibiotics, 6.1%. About 80% of students come from within the chemotherapies, etc.) or perform surgery. They do.” school’s target market, which encompasses Arkan- 246 • THE JOURNAL OF THE ARKANSAS MEDICAL SOCIETY sas and surrounding states. The student population is roughly 50% male and 50% female, with under- represented minorities at about 14%.  NYITCOM’s mission is to create and retain more physicians who stay and practice here in Ar- kansas, particularly in underserved areas around the state. “It isn’t a job that one institution can solve,” said Dr. Speights. “It takes a collaborative effort amongst many institutions, hospitals, medical schools, residency training programs, and commu- nities. To truly see results, you must have enough physicians graduating from a medical school in the state that can then flow into residency programs in the state to try to increase the number that will stay in the state. We know that of medical students that graduate from a medical school in Arkansas and at- tend a residency program in Arkansas and graduate from that program, 80% of those graduates (based on current data), will remain in the state or region.** That’s a statistic we need to capitalize on.” NYITCOM at A-State cares for all Arkansans, but is particularly committed to improving the quality of life in the Mississippi Delta region. “It’s always been our focus to make a positive impact in this, one of the poorest, most underserved regions VOLUME 115