Medical school possible for Southern

Amye Buckley

The first doctoral graduates at Missouri Southern may be waving a D.O. and not a Ph.D.

The Missouri Southern Board of Governors gave their approval to “forward planning” for a potential school of osteopathic medicine during its Aug. 15 meeting.

Dr. Larry McIntire, D.O., listed the creation of the health sciences building – which will be completed in 2009 – as one of the triggers for discussing the program. He envisions a program with between 75-100 students and told the Board it may take two to three years before a medical school at Southern could begin accepting applications.

“I don’t see anything that can’t be done, it is just do we have the resolve to do it,” McIntire said.

No changes would need to be made to the existing undergraduate program. McIntire gave a ballpark figure of $30 million to start such a program at Southern. He said the start-up cost of the program would be double without the benefit of the University’s infrastructure, including the health sciences building currently under construction.

Part of McIntire’s task over the next few months will be to define those costs more precisely and to explore possible funding. Any medical program at Southern would be closely tied with the local medical community.

“Our faculty would be M.D. and D.O.,” McIntire said. “I think since we wouldn’t own a hospital we would use the regional hospitals and count on physicians there.”

Before developing full funding support for the program or curriculum or taking student applications, McIntire had to get approval from Southern’s Board. The prospective program’s future rests on many other such approvals.

“The first phase is getting the accrediting body to say ‘You can do that, you can move,'” McIntire said. “And that calls for the financial piece to be in line and the state authority to grant degrees to be in line and those kinds of things.

“So now we get after it.”