New York state is slated to have its first new medical school in nearly 30 years when Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine opens in Harlem this fall.Touro boasts that its new school would be the first osteopathic college of medicine with an emphasis on training minority doctors. Touro would be the nation’s 24th college of osteopathic medicine and Touro’s third. Touro’s other two are in Vallejo, Calif., and Henderson, Nev. The new school is expected to have 40 full- and 100 part-time faculty members, and would also tap into about 200 doctors from New York City hospitals in adjunct faculty positions. School officials said they are forming partnerships with New York hospitals and clinics in Harlem for students to perform their clinical work.
N.Y. Lt. Gov. David Paterson, third from left, visits with Touro officials and the president of the Empire State Medical Association.
The school has received 800 applications for an opening class of 125, but few qualified minorities, "a problem that the college aims to rectify," officials said in a news release. There are plans to work with schools in Harlem to encourage students to major in science and consider a medical career. Graduates will be encouraged to remain in Harlem to practice medicine, officials said. Currently, the number of American-trained medical residents in Harlem-area hospitals is well below 50%, according to Touro officials."Students don’t see medicine and science as an option, so enrollment has gone down, but we’re going to bring it back again," said New York State Lt. Gov. David Paterson, in the news release. Paterson attended and co-sponsored the event announcing the new school. The Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone has loaned $4.7 million to Touro for the project. The medical school is also hoping to get financial assistance through the Economic Development Administration and out-of-pocket funds, according to a spokeswoman. Completion of an initial 50,000 square feet of the medical school is expected in late spring. As of December 2006, Touro was approved for initial provisional accreditation by the American Osteopathic Association's Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation, according to a news release from the Chicago-based association. The osteopathic association’s commission grants provisional accreditation to new colleges of osteopathic medicine through the time of graduation of the first class. Founded in 1971, Touro College is currently educating more than 23,000 students in California, Florida, Nevada and New York as well as Berlin, Jerusalem and Moscow. The college is a Jewish-sponsored independent institution of higher and professional education, according to its Web site. The college was established primarily to enrich the Jewish heritage and to serve the larger American community. Meanwhile, Robert Morris University in Moon Township, Pa., announced in January that it was terminating efforts to establish a school of osteopathic medicine and would instead direct its resources toward better addressing the region’s healthcare worker shortage.
Robert Morris said it would refocus its efforts on programs in areas such as allied health, imaging technology, nursing and patient safety. The university said in the fall it will begin offering a doctorate degree in nursing practice.
Also next fall, Robert Morris will offer a certificate program in patient safety with plans to expand the offerings to one or more graduate-degree programs within the next several years. A nuclear medicine technology program, if approved by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, could begin as early as fall as well.