Arkansas Colleges of Health Education
Rance McClain: Osteopathic Growth Good for State
Rance McClain, chancellor of Arkansas College of Osteopathic Medicine (ARCOM) in Fort Smith, says the introduction of osteopathic medical schools in Arkansas has benefited the state.
“One of the principle foundations of osteopathic medicine is primary care, and the growth of medical care with an osteopathic emphasis has had a positive impact, nationally, on addressing the crisis on the shortage of primary-care providers,” he says.
ARCOM, part of the Arkansas Colleges of Health Education (ACHE), was founded to address this shortage of doctors, especially primary-care physicians, in rural parts of Arkansas. One of two osteopathic med schools in the state (the other is New York Institute of Technology’s osteopathic-medicine satellite campus at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro), it is the only private institution of higher learning in the state devoted to health care. In addition to DO (Doctor of Osteopathic medicine) degrees, ACHE offers degree programs in biomedicine, physical therapy and occupational therapy as well as programs for physician assistants.
As fewer medical school graduates choose family practice, DOs are replacing MDs in many rural areas of the country. The American Osteopathic Association (AOA) reports that osteopathic med school numbers have doubled in the last 10 years and that a higher percentage of graduating DOs, 56 percent, choose primary care as their specialty. Research from George Washington University, meanwhile, indicates that less than 25 percent of newly minted MDs go into family practice.
ARCOM has been well received. Its inaugural class in 2017 had 150 students, and classes have grown each year since.
“We have had overwhelming support beginning with the initial land donation of 200 acres from the Fort Chaffee Redevelopment Authority, as well from our government units, cities and counties,” McClain says. “Our community has welcomed us and continued to support our institution and students including local businesses, the Fort Smith Regional Chamber of Commerce and local health care providers.”
While osteopathic medicine takes a more holistic approach than traditional medical schools, folks seem happy to have more doctors, he notes.
“The medical community has worked with our students and recognized their exceptional training and ability to help with treating patients.”