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OU-HCOM sets record enrollment this year

Careful planning praised for accomplishing 40 percent increase

(ATHENS, Ohio) More than three years of planning culminates Saturday with the formal induction of the largest ever first-year class of the Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine (OU-HCOM) into the osteopathic medical profession.

On Saturday at 2 p.m., 140 aspiring physicians and surgeons receive their short white coats during OU-HCOM’s 36th Convocation at Ohio University’s Templeton-Blackburn Memorial Alumni Auditorium. The new medical students are required to wear the white coat when they are accompanying physicians in a clinical setting, which at OU-HCOM occurs during the first year of medical school.

Selected from 3,821 applicants, the students in the Class of 2015 began orientation and anatomy classes last month at OU-HCOM.

In early 2008, the American Osteopathic Association Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation (COCA) granted the college approval for a class size increase from 100 students per class to 140. Beginning that academic year, OU-HCOM began the increase by admitting 120 students, which continued during 2009-2010 and last year.

Dean Jack Brose, D.O., said the college chose to slowly implement the increase in class size in order to adequately prepare for this year’s 140 first year students, and eventual subsequent classes of that size. When giving approval for the class size increase in 2008, COCA called OU-HCOM’s plan for more students “a model for how to effectively conduct a class size increase.”

OU-HCOM was granted the increase based on successfully meeting three standards, including adequate financial resources, sufficient facilities and sufficient and appropriately trained faculty. Brose said that the college purposely waited until now to admit the maximum 140 students to ensure those conditions were met.

While the college immediately began hiring additional faculty, expanding and improving facilities were undertaken to accommodate the new class size, he said.

Two years ago, the college renovated and enlarged its anatomy laboratory, while last year OU-HCOM completed renovations and opened a larger state-of-the-art Heritage Clinical Assessment and Training Center, made possible by a $2.3 million gift from the Osteopathic Heritage Foundations.  The latter provides a training area for first and second year students to enhance their skills in a safe and supportive environment. Both facilities are located in Grosvenor Hall. 

This summer, the college is completing renovations on an expanded micro-anatomy laboratory.

Besides being OU-HCOM’s largest ever class, members of the Class of 2015 set new records in college history with the highest average MCAT scores, and the highest combined non-science grade point average (3.74).

“The Class of 2015 is the largest Class in OU-HCOM history, but we certainly have not compromised quality for quantity,” said John Schriner, Ph.D., director of admissions at OU-HCOM. “The class is outstanding not only from an academic stand point but from one of diversity too. The class is a reflection of our society and has positioned us to continue to contribute to our college and societal mission.”  

Of the 140 news students, 86 percent hail from Ohio and 14 percent from Ohio Appalachian counties. Twenty-six percent of the students are first generation college students, 22 percent are minorities and 45 percent are women.

Pending COCA approval, OU-HCOM plans to increase its enrollment again to produce more primary care physicians, especially for Ohio, Brose said. As part of the historic $105 million gift to the college from the Osteopathic Heritage Foundations, the college plans to open an extension campus in central Ohio by 2015 that can accommodate an additional 50 students per class.

Since its inception in 1975, OU-HCOM has specialized in the recruitment, training and placement of primary care physicians, which includes family practice, general internal medicine and pediatrics.  More than half of the college’s currently practicing graduates serve as primary care physicians and 60 percent stay in Ohio to practice, making OU-HCOM one of the most successful schools in Ohio and among the top medical schools in the country that graduate physicians who practice primary care, particularly in rural areas.

A highlight of this year’s event is the annual presentation of the Phillips Medals of Public Service, the college’s highest honor given to individuals who have made outstanding contributions to health care, education and/or public service.

Delivering the keynote address, besides receiving a Phillips Medal of Public Service, is Lois M. Nora, M.D., J.D., M.B.A., interim president and dean of The Commonwealth Medical College. President Emeritus and Dean of Medicine at Northeast Medical University, formerly known as Northeastern Ohio Universities Colleges of Medicine and Pharmacy, she was the first female neurologist chosen to be dean and president of an American medical school.

She is nationally recognized leader in physician workforce issues as well as for her research in gender equity, health professions education and academic medicine. Much of Dr. Nora’s scholarly work is focused on issues where law and medicine intersect in medical education.

A board-certified neurologist, Dr. Nora is fellowship trained in electromyography and neuromuscular disease and holds certificates in clinical medical ethics and medical management. She is a fellow of the American Academy of Neurology and American Association of Neuromuscular and Electrodiagnostic Medicine and has served as the latter organization’s president.

The second recipient of the Phillips Medal of Public Service is Robert S. Juhasz, D.O., medical director at the Cleveland Clinic’s Willoughby Hills Family Health Center. He is an associate clinical professor at OU-HCOM and an assistant clinical professor of medicine at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine.

For the past five years, Dr. Juhasz has served as the American Osteopathic Association (AOA) Board of Trustees liaison to OU-HCOM and has enjoyed being a mentor to many students and residents. In 2006, he was named an honorary alumnus of OU-HCOM.

Dr. Juhasz serves on the Board of Trustees for the AOA, and is the chair of the AOA’s Education and Procedure Review Committee III. Dr. Juhasz’s counsel is often sought on issues concerning the implementation of electronic health records; in 2005, he participated in a panel that was interviewed by former President George W. Bush about electronic health records. He has served as a member of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Electronic Health Records Workgroup and served as a member of what is now known as the National eHealth Collaborative.

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Last updated: 01/28/2016