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Utah's 2nd Medical School Expected To Open In 2017

Rocky Vista University College of Osteopathic Medicine
A rendering of Rocky Vista University College of Osteopathic Medicine-Southern Utah branch

Nearly 80 percent of Utah's counties are facing a medical-professional shortage, making the state the third worst in the country for the doctor-to-patient ratio. The state’s second medical school will open in August 2017 in Ivins, Utah, with the hope to address the statistic.

Dave Heaton, public information officer for the Southwest Utah Public Health Department, said access to health care professionals can be hard to come by in the rural areas such as Washington and Iron counties.

Click to hear the full interview with Dave Heaton.

“Once you get out to the rural parts of our county, which is the vast majority of our geographical area, that can be an issue as far as accessing a doctor that practices in those areas,” he said.

To address the shortage, the state’s second medical school, called Rocky Vista University College of Osteopathic Medicine-Southern Utah branch, is set to open August 2017 in Ivins City, Utah. David Park, vice dean of the university, said of Utah’s 29 counties, 23 of them are federally designated as medical shortage areas.

Click to hear the full interview with David Park.

“That’s nearly 80 percent of Utah,” Park said. “The vision of our college of osteopathic medicine is to provide primary care, especially in those areas of the underserved and that will be the rural communities mostly in Utah.”

Osteopathy is a relatively new branch of medicine. The practice, which began nearly 120 years ago, emphasizes a whole-person approach to treatment. Professionals are trained to listen and partner with their patients to obtain a healthy mind, body and spirit. One in every four medical students in the nation are enrolled in a college of osteopathic medicine, making it the fastest growing branch of health care.

“The osteopathic medical students these days train the same as their MD counterparts students,” Park said. “They get pretty much identical curriculum but the osteopathic students receive over 200 hours of additional training.”

The DO degree, which stands for Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine, just like the Doctor of Medicine, provides a full and unrestricted license to practice medicine in any of the 50 states.