MERIDIAN, Idaho — Idaho is officially investing in medicine, with the construction of the state’s first medical school now underway. Construction began on Idaho State University’s (ISU) Meridian campus on May 17 to build the $34 million Idaho College of Osteopathic Medicine (ICOM). Locally based Engineered Structures Inc. is leading construction on the project.
The 94,000-square-foot, for-profit osteopathic medical school will be a freestanding, privately funded, separately licensed and independently operated entity located at ISU’s Health Science Center in Meridian. As part of the collaboration and affiliation agreement with ISU, ICOM has agreed to a long-term land lease for its facility at ISU’s Meridian Health Science Center.
The American Osteopathic Association’s Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation awarded the pre-accreditation status in early May, allowing the school to begin construction. While the osteopathic college has yet to receive academic accreditation, the project is scheduled for completion by May 2018. At that time, it will admit up to 150 students for its first year of classes, which would begin in fall 2018, reported the Idaho State Journal.
The three-story building will be positioned around a large courtyard that will be used year-round by students, faculty and staff, according to the college’s website. Outdoor seating areas will mix with fountains and iconic signage to create a welcoming site for medical students. It will also feature leading-edge facilities designed to create a caring and supportive environment for the 21st century medical school, according to a statement. The college’s colors will complement ISU’s black and orange, honoring the partnership between the university and medical school.
Idaho is currently ranked 49th for the number of physicians per capita and 50th for lack of primary care physicians per capita in the nation, according to a statement. It is also the most populous state without a medical school, and ICOM plans to change those statistics with an estimated 50 percent of ICOM students expected to become primary care physicians. Idahoans will have priority admission to the program and students will be encouraged to serve residents in rural communities.
“I’m grateful for the progress that’s being made and I look forward to ICOM’s full accreditation so Idaho can start producing homegrown physicians to meet the
demands of our growing population,” Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter said in a statement. “This is an enterprise that holds great promise for helping improve health care accessibility and affordability for all our citizens. I applaud everyone who is working hard to make ICOM a reality.”
The school already secured affiliations with 22 hospitals, medical centers and health care organizations so that ICOM students can start rotations as soon as 2020. More than $5 million has been allocated for the development of residency programs in the first 10 years, according to a statement. The State of Idaho is expected to gain financially with an economic impact of more than $500 million in the first 10 years of full operation.