Indiana’s New Medical School Opens

Tried to get in to see your primary care physician lately? It’s possible you’ve found it harder and harder to get a quick turnaround time on an appointment, unless it was scheduled months in advance.

There’s a likely reason for that: a shortage of primary care physicians, plus more patients in the system, equals less time for you to see your doctor. (That’s not to mention what will happen when the full brunt of the Affordable Care Act begins in 2014, forcing huge numbers of new patients to vie for attention from a dwindling number of physicians.)

In 2011, I wrote a story for BizVoice® magazine about Marian University opening the first college of osteopathic medicine in the state – and the first new medical school to open here in more than a century.

The Marian University College of Osteopathic Medicine will open next week and will produce about 150 graduates per year, according to a press release from the school.

While writing that story I found some sobering facts about our looming doctor shortage:

“The American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine is predicting a shortage of more than 150,000 doctors by 2025 (nationwide).

“Indiana’s statistics are staggering: The state is short 5,000 physicians. By 2020, Indiana will need 2,000 more primary care physicians. Of 92 counties, 57 are medically underserved. The mental health provider shortage is 38%, while the deficiency in primary health care physicians is 30%”

So you can see we have a dire need for more physicians.

Do you know the difference between an osteopathic college and a college of medicine? Here’s a quick run-down of the differences:

  • Doctors who graduate from an osteopathic college earn a DO degree; those who graduate from a college of medicine earn an MD degree
  • DO’s and MD’s are in the same medical board; qualifications are essentially the same
  • It mainly comes down to philosophy. When I spoke to the college’s dean, Dr. Paul Evans, in 2011, he said this about the difference: “The philosophy of osteopathic medicine stresses looking at the patient as a whole and the wellness and prevention aspects of medical care. The bottom line (for both) is to treat the patient”
  • Students in both types of school earn a four-year degree and then begin three to seven years of postdoctoral medical education, residencies and fellowships
  • Osteopathic medicine traditionally graduates more primary care physicians

After that story, I sought out a DO for my primary care physician and am quite happy with the results. Cheers to the new school of osteopathic medicine!