In the first partnership of its kind in the United States, Oklahoma State University and the Cherokee Nation will open a new medical school in Tahlequah by 2020. Tribal officials hope the project will increase access to health care across eastern Oklahoma, officials confirmed Thursday.
The university and the tribe won’t officially announce the project until next week, and officials have not yet provided many details. But classes will be held at the tribe’s Hastings Hospital campus, where the school will be called the OSU College of Osteopathic Medicine at the Cherokee Nation.
Enrollment will include Cherokee and non-Cherokee students, but the tribe hopes many graduates will remain in the area to practice, increasing the quality and quantity of medical care in a part of the state that has a heavy Cherokee presence.
OSU already offers a residency program at Hastings Hospital, and the expanded partnership has been planned since at least early 2017, when Hastings broke ground on a 469,000-square-foot expansion that more than doubled its size.
The $150 million construction project would allow 25,000 square feet of clinic space in the existing facility to be renovated for the medical school, officials said at the time of the groundbreaking.
“We believe that expanding the medical school inside the Cherokee Nation is a great way to attract students from Oklahoma and all over the country to serve our rural communities and the Cherokee Nation,” Dr. Kayse Shrum, president of the OSU Center for Health Sciences, said at the time.
“When you look at the new facility and all the wonderful things that are going to be happening there, there’s not a better place to train future doctors with the best technology,” Shrum said.