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Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

New partnership with KansasCOM to expand options for medical students

Officials from Wichita State University and the Kansas Health Science Center-Kansas College of Osteopathic Medicine smile fora group photo after signing a partnership agreement. Photo courtesy of Wichita State University Strategic Communications

Wichita State University and the Kansas College of Osteopathic Medicine (KansasCOM) will team up to address the physician shortage in Kansas through an admissions partnership, according to a press release published earlier this month. 

According to Linnea GlenMaye, the associate vice president for academic affairs, this initiative has been in the works for a few years and was recently finalized. 

“(We) worked out some details, and we’re really happy to have this agreement signed,” GlenMaye said. “In a nutshell, this provides the opportunity for students who are interested in a medical career through the osteopathic medicine route.”

How the partnership works

GlenMaye explained that the osteopathic medicine route would start at Wichita State in fall 2025 and would take the first three years of a biology or chemistry major. Then students would move on and complete their last year at the KansasCOM, with those credits transferring back to Wichita State. 

“The last 30 credits of their degree would be credits that they took at the College of Osteopathic Medicine,” GlenMaye said. “But those majors would then use those credits to complete the bachelor’s degree (at Wichita State).” 

GlenMaye said this is a “3+4 agreement” where students would have their fourth year at Wichita State combined with their first year at the KansasCOM. At the end of those seven years, they would have a degree qualifying them to be a doctor of osteopathic medicine. 

While she’s not a doctor of osteopathic medicine, GlenMaye explained that a doctor of osteopathic medicine (DO) is an alternative to the doctor of medicine (MD) programs offered at other universities. 

“Currently, here in Wichita, we have the KU Medical Center, which is the educational program for MD,” GlenMaye said. “Then the College of Osteopathic Medicine at the Kansas Health Science Center (KHSC) would be an alternative form of that.”

Physicians in Kansas

According to the American Osteopathic Association (AOA), DOs practice in all medical specialties, including gynecology, primary care, psychiatry and pediatrics. According to the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM), DOs use a “whole-person” approach to treat the person rather than the symptoms. 

More than one-third of DOs go into private practice, fulfilling the critical need for physicians in rural areas. However, the number of qualified physicians, especially in rural areas, is anticipated to shrink.

According to an article from the KFDI, KHSC’s President and CEO Tiffany Masson stated in a press release announcing the partnership that the number of physicians will decline over the next decade. Wichita State President Richard Muma elaborated and said a majority of counties in Kansas are experiencing shortages in the health profession. 

The Sunflower reached out to Masson, but she was not available to comment. 

“There’s not enough … physicians, particularly primary care physicians in a part of our state to take care of the needs of patients going forward,” Muma said. “With more and more physicians retiring, there’s going to be a real critical need to produce more physicians to go into those undisturbed areas, but also replace (those) physicians.” 

Muma said the areas in need of primary care physicians are in western Kansas, many counties in southeast Kansas and areas in north and northeast Kansas. 

“It’s pretty much everywhere except major urban metropolitan areas,” Muma said. 

Muma explained that, as the university’s president, the partnership is giving opportunities for students to go on to professional school. 

“We just feel like that would be a better way of making sure that students have a more seamless path into the College of Osteopathic Medicine,” Muma said. 

Student requirements

Dean of the Fairmount College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (LAS) Andrew Hippisley said this partnership keeps pre-med program students in mind to make sure they do a certain number of courses required for the pathway. 

“(The partnership will give students) an opportunity to do shadowing and voluntary work,” Hippisley said.

According to the program of study sent by Hippisley in an email exchange to The Sunflower, students will take 15 credit hours per semester at Wichita State with summer shadowing or volunteering in between each academic year. Then, students would take 20 credit hours over three senior terms at the KansasCOM. 

Muma said he and Masson put together this plan of “3+4” to prepare students to be competitive in medical school. Then, those who are eligible can begin the combined first and fourth year with the two schools. 

“In a program like this, the idea is that they would start working toward what would be necessary for them to start the Kansas College of Osteopathic Medicine (and) making sure they’re taking certain coursework,” Muma said. “Just better preparation professionally to compete for a position in the medical school.”

In an email exchange with The Sunflower, Richard Winslow, the associate dean for student affairs and services at KansasCOM, said students are required to complete a set of science-focused courses at Wichita State in order to be eligible for the program. 

“The students aren’t tested per se,” Winslow said in an emailed statement. “They will need to maintain a certain GPA in those courses in order to qualify to apply for acceptance at KansasCOM.”

Winslow stated that, assuming students meet the minimum GPA threshold, students would not have to take the MCAT exam for acceptance. 

In a separate email exchange, GlenMaye said that students must have a cumulative GPA of 3.25 overall and a cumulative science GPA of 3.5. 

The inaugural class

Five students will be selected for the fall 2025 semester and will officially start classes with both schools once the partnership officially launches.

According to GlenMaye, the selection process for students will start in the fall 2024 semester and the selection committee will be formed during this summer.

GlenMaye said that details about the program are still in the works but if students are interested in enrolling, they should contact LAS advising for more information. 

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About the Contributor
Jacinda Hall
Jacinda Hall, Reporter
Jacinda Hall is a reporter for The Sunflower. Hall is a Senior pursuing a journalism and media production degree with a minor in English. Hall hopes to pursue a career in writing, editing or teaching journalism at the high school level after graduation. Hall uses she/her pronouns.

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