by Stephanie Dillon
When the Idaho College of Osteopathic Medicine (ICOM) welcomes its inaugural class this month, the significance will reverberate far beyond its campus. The school is not only Idaho’s first medical college, it is also a college specifically focused on osteopathic medicine.
An osteopathic physician, or DO, is a board-certified, fully licensed physician authorized to practice in all 50 U.S. states and in more than 65 countries worldwide. Equivalent to M.D.s, they diagnose, treat, prescribe medications and perform surgery. The major difference is that osteopathic physicians are trained to focus on the whole person, working in partnership with patients to help them achieve a high level of wellness by focusing on health promotion and disease prevention. DOs have also devoted between 300 and 500 hours to studying techniques for hands-on musculoskeletal manipulation.
Located in Meridian, the three-story, 94,000-square-foot facility sits adjacent to Idaho State University’s Health Science Center. The $34 million building took just over one year to build.
School leaders say ICOM was designed for the modern medical student. The facility houses more than 12,000-square feet of classroom space, including two lecture halls, each with 250 seats; a state-of-the-art clinical simulation center; a 3,500-square-foot medical library and a 3,479-square-foot Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine (OMM) lab. Additionally, 12 Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) rooms will be located on the second floor—the largest OSCE suite in the state of Idaho.
The osteopathic medical profession has a long tradition of providing care where patients lack doctors. Following this trend, more than half of [2017’s] new osteopathic medical residents will embark on careers in primary care specialties.
~ American Osteopathic Association 2017 OMP Report
“ICOM has made a commitment to provide the best and most modern medical education in the nation,” says Founding Dean and Chief Academic Officer Robert Hasty, DO. “We designed Idaho’s first medical school to meet the needs of the physician of the future.”
Through an agreement with Idaho State University, ICOM students and faculty will have use of the university’s anatomy and physiology laboratories.
“We couldn’t be more pleased with our 40-year commitment to partner with ISU,” Hasty says. “This fine university has been a pleasure to work with, and we are proud that our medical school will complement ISU’s already highly competitive and vastly growing medical programs.”
ICOM leaders say the school’s mission is to train osteopathic physicians that will be prepared for caring for persons in Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota and beyond.
Students will spend the first two years of didactic training on campus. Afterward, they’ll spend the third and fourth years of their education doing clinical rotations at affiliated hospital systems throughout ICOM’s five “target” states. Currently, ICOM has established partnerships with more than 35 hospital and health systems in the region.
When ICOM graduates transfer into their residencies, school leaders say the hope is that they’ll remain in Idaho, or in one of the target states. Studies show the physical location of residency programs is one of three major determinants of where physicians choose to practice. Because of this, ICOM is working to develop and expand residency programs throughout Idaho.
As part of their efforts, Idaho College of Osteopathic Medicine is investing more than $5 million during the first 10 years of operation to develop new residency programs for the state. ICOM has partnered with the Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center (EIRMC) to establish an internal medicine residency—the first of its kind for the Idaho Falls-based hospital.
“As Idaho’s first medical school, ICOM is committed to supporting graduate medical education,” Hasty explains. “Idaho currently ranks 49th in the nation for both the number of physicians and resident physicians per capita. Our partnership with EIRMC will have a lasting impact not only in eastern Idaho, but throughout the state.”
The Idaho College of Osteopathic Medicine will host a ribbon-cutting event at 5:15 p.m. on September 5, at the school. Tours of the facility will be available after the ceremony, and the public is encouraged to attend.
Stephanie Dillon is director of communications and marketing at ICOM, located at 1401 E. Central Dr., Meridian. For more information, email Info@IdahoCom.org or visit IdahoCom.org.