MERIDIAN -- State and local leaders celebrated a ceremonial groundbreaking at the future site of Idaho's first medical school.
The Idaho College of Osteopathic Medicine will be built next to the Idaho State University Meridian campus.
ICOM officials, along with Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter, Meridian Mayor Tammy de Weerd, Sen. Marv Hagedorn and ISU President Arthur Vailas, donned hardhats and picked up shovelfuls of dirt at the Wednesday morning groundbreaking.
Founding dean and chief academic officer Dr. Robert Hasty said the finished medical school will "give opportunities for Idahoans, these young folks, to eventually become physicians here in our state."
Idaho currently ranks next-to-last out of all 50 states for the number of physicians per capita.
ICOM is expected to open its doors in fall 2018, welcoming up to 150 medical students in the first year.
"This is a diamond day in the Gem State," Hasty said. "This is incredibly important - the leadership from the government, from our team, to create Idaho's first medical school."
The school will be a privately funded and independently-operated institution, but is affiliated with ISU, and has longterm land lease agreements with the university.