Tulsa, OK – University of Tulsa President Steadman Upham and University of Oklahoma President David Boren today announced their intention to establish a joint four-year community medical education program in Tulsa. The state's flagship private and public universities are creating the program to help address Oklahoma's low health status, low health systems performance and physician shortage.
TU has an established core of science education and research programs, and OU has an established medical training program in Tulsa focusing on residency training and the third and fourth years of clinical medical student education. University officials said the goal is to have the first class in the new program to begin studies in the fall of 2014.
"Through this collaboration, we seek to effect real and dramatic gains in the health of Oklahomans," said President Upham. "The vision for this program is to produce physicians with a focus on community health, to address the social aspect of disease and wellness and to create equitable access to care for all Oklahomans. Our aim is to keep these doctors right here at home living and working in Oklahoma's communities."
President Boren said, "I am very excited that these two strong universities will work together to create a new model for a community medical school in Tulsa. By pooling our resources and our excellent faculties in this area, we can develop a truly outstanding medical education for Tulsa and northeastern Oklahoma which can serve as an example for others across the nation."
The program will build upon the concept of a School of Community Medicine, which was established at OU-Tulsa in February 2008 with a $50 million gift from the George Kaiser Family Foundation, with emphasis on helping those most in need of medical care.
The curriculum, designed and supported by TU and OU faculty, will focus on priorities such as improving the health of entire communities, improvement in public health disparities, recruitment of students with altruistic goals, health systems improvement and interdisciplinary work.
"Oklahoma and the U.S. are facing a severe shortage of physicians that will affect most individuals. Underserved populations may face the greatest challenges in accessing health care as the physician shortage worsens," said OU-Tulsa President Gerard Clancy, M.D. "At the same time, new models of care such as the patient centered medical home that provides coordinated and continuous care must be taught to physicians in training if we are to create a high quality and more efficient health care system in the U.S. These joint efforts with the University of Tulsa and the University of Oklahoma will address these challenges head on."
This is the latest collaboration between TU and OU. Two years ago, the two universities combined efforts to offer a Master of Health Sciences in Physician Assistant Studies through the OU School of Community Medicine. Physician assistants are health care professionals authorized to practice under the supervision of licensed physicians, and the field is one of the fastest growing professions in the country. The universities also have a joint affiliation with the William K. Warren Foundation at the Laureate Institute for Brain Research along with ongoing research associations in the areas of immunology and cancer, informatics and the neurosciences.
A steering committee comprised of representatives from both universities will be formed to coordinate all planning. Planning subcommittees will focus on designing strategies for recruitment, admissions, curriculum, student support services, faculty development, facilities and accreditation.
The planning committee will also develop an appropriate board to oversee the proposed community medical school, which would be composed of representatives of both universities.