LSU Health not affected by proposed med school in Monroe

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A proposed medical school at the University of Louisiana Monroe created some concern over the future of LSU Health in Shreveport, but a closer looks shows no need to worry.

On June 21, Louisiana Board of Regents approved the application for licensure submitted by New York Institute of Technology (NYIT) to operate a College of Osteopathic Medicine at the University of Louisiana Monroe. NYIT and ULM have a nonbinding Memorandum of Understanding through which the two entities are exploring establishing a Monroe site of New York Institute of Technology College of Osteopathic Medicine on the ULM campus. NYIT is a private, not-for-profit institution of higher education with domestic campuses in New York and Arkansas.

This created uncertainty over a crown jewel of Shreveport-Bossier with potential competition roughly 90 miles down I-20. However, there are several hurdles before the new school could even begin construction.

Accreditation and business terms would need to be settled before the college of osteopathic medicine could open, estimated to be in two years at earliest. Even ULM officials have told the press that “substantial efforts remain” to get the college launched.

Moreover, LSU Health Chancellor Dr. G.E. Ghali is not worried. He is focused on and dedicated to producing quality students who provide valuable outcomes, saying, “I recognize the need for educating more rural physicians which has been noted as the impetus behind the establishment of a Doctor of Osteopathy School on the University of Louisiana at Monroe campus.  I wish them well in this endeavor.”

“The LSU School of Medicine in Shreveport has been focused on increasing the number of physicians who choose to practice in rural and underserved areas for a number of years. Currently, we rank in the top 6% in the nation of graduates who practice in underserved areas (33% of our graduates) and in the top 24% in the nation of graduates who practice in rural areas,” Dr. Ghali added. “Our School of Medicine and Allied Health Professions will continue to expose and encourage students to practice in rural and underserved areas as we work to positively impact the 87% of Louisiana parishes currently experiencing a healthcare workforce shortage.”

Another important factor to consider is that that the proposed new school will be private, and substantially more expensive, than attending a state school such as LSU Health.

Students at the specialized school of medicine would be NYIT students with minimal financial benefits going to ULM, as well no State of Louisiana money going to the medical school on the flip side.

There has been no decision about where the college would be placed on ULM campuses.

Students attending the proposed school at ULM would follow a course of study similar to a general medicine degree, except osteopathic doctors would be trained in the adjustment of bones and muscles.

The post graduate education programs at LSU Health Shreveport have an enrollment of 1,432 students and over 7,521 alumni. LSU Health is a major economic driver for Shreveport-Bossier with an annual contribution of $521 million locally and an additional $2.4 billion in north Louisiana by practicing alumni, according to the June 2014 Tripp Umbach Economic Impact Report.