BY SUMMER WILLIAMS
THE GAZETTE RECORD
A $120 million project to build a medical school in the state is expected to come to fruition next year.
The Idaho College of Osteopathic Medicine (ICOM) is expected to welcome its 1st class in August 2018. Located in Meridian, it will be the 1st medical school in the state. “Idaho is the most populous state without a medical school of its own,” Dr. Robert Hasty, founding dean and chief academic officer, said. “There are huge needs in the state for a facility like this. Idaho ranks 49th in terms of physicians per capita.”
Mr. Hasty, along with Tracy Farnsworth, president and CEO, visited St. Maries to meet with Anthony Koroush, CEO of Benewah Community Hospital, to discuss the school.
“One of the challenges here in St. Maries that really the whole region deals with, and this is a big thing, is being able to attract and keep physicians,” Mr. Hasty said. “Idahoans leave the state each year to medical school and when they leave they don’t often come back.”
Mr. Hasty said the school anticipates receiving provisional accreditation later this year. Because of the tremendous need for primary care in not only Idaho but the five- state region, it was decided ICOM would be an osteopathic medical school.
ICOM is funded privately so there is no cost to the taxpayer, Mr. Hasty said. The college will be located near Idaho State University’s Meridian Health Science Center, and will accept 150 students per class when it opens.
“Students will spend the 1st two years in the class- room and then during their third and fourth year we will send them out into the communities to be working in the hospitals,” Mr. Hasty said.
Mr. Hasty said Idahoans will have preferential admission, but the school will also recruit students from surroundings states.
“One important thing to know is that we want this school to be affordable. Our tuition will be less than the national average for a private medical school,” he said.
Mr. Hasty said the school is going to provide opportunities to students who other- wise wouldn’t have them.
“It’s much more difficult for a student from Montana to become a physician than someone from Harlem or New York City,” he said. “I really believe this is going to make a difference for Idahoans.”
Mr. Hasty added the school is expected to employ 71 individuals – climbing to 90 when it is in full operation.
“The expected economic impact is 50 million in the 1st year, and half a billion after ten years,” he said.
Mr. Hasty said he and his team have received tremendous support for the project from hospitals, community leaders and the state’s governor.
“Many are very enthusiastic,” he said. “The primary purpose of our visit with Anthony (Koroush) was to extend a formal invitation to participate so he will visit with his board and we will go from there.”
Mr. Koroush said Idaho is one of only a handful of states that does not have its own medical school. He said he thinks it is great to bring a medical school to the state and believes it will be a great campus for students.
However, whether the local hospital will affiliate with the school for a residency program remains to be seen. Mr. Koroush said the hospital affiiates with University of Washington.
He added the board is still waiting to review an affiliation agreement from ICOM but will do so as soon as they receive it.
Overall, however, he feels the medical school will be good for Idaho.
“I think this is a great thing for the state. I think it will help bring doctors to rural areas. I believe it will be successful, but I pause a bit. I would love to be a part of it but I have to give it careful consideration because of our relationship with the Coeur d’Alene residency program through the University of Washington,” Mr. Koroush said. “That’s something we’ll discuss.”