Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences (OSU-CHS) announced the establishment of multiple scholarship funds totaling $475,000 from the Cherokee Nation, Chickasaw Nation, Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma and 13 private donors in honor of the nation’s first tribally affiliated medical school – the OSU College of Osteopathic Medicine at the Cherokee Nation. The new medical school is the result of a historic partnership between OSU-CHS and the Cherokee Nation and is set to open in 2020 on the campus of the Cherokee Nation’s W.W. Hastings Hospital in Tahlequah. Scholarship funds will be earmarked for Native American medical students.
Current plans call for the enrollment of an inaugural class of up to 50 students starting in the fall of 2020 with a total of 200 students when fully operational. While the new medical school will be open to all applicants, scholarship dollars designated by donors for Native American medical students will encourage Native candidates to pursue medicine at OSU-COM at the Cherokee Nation. “Medical school is a significant investment both in terms of time and money. We are grateful to our many supporters who are partnering with us to train tomorrow’s Native American doctors. I can’t think of a better way to attract more Native Americans into medicine than through scholarship dollars,” said Kayse Shrum, D.O., OSU-CHS president and OSU College of Osteopathic Medicine dean.
“When I learned that President Shrum had secured $175,000 in private donations for our new school and that those scholarships would benefit future Cherokee students, I knew that the Cherokee Nation had to join efforts with OSU to grow our own doctors. I am grateful that my good friends, Governor Anoatubby and Chief Batton, have also pledged scholarship dollars in honor of this historic announcement. This is a proud moment for all of us in Indian country,” said Bill John Baker, Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation. “The Cherokee Nation will commit $100,000 to support future Cherokee medical students of the new OSU College of Osteopathic Medicine at Cherokee Nation.”
The Chickasaw Nation also pledged $100,000 to support future Chickasaw citizens enrolled at the new medical school. “Making this scholarship gift was an easy decision for us. We applaud OSU-CHS’ and the Cherokee Nation’s vision to create the nation’s first tribally affiliated medical school here in Oklahoma. We hope that future Chickasaw students will take the opportunity to study medicine in nearby Tahlequah and then return to practice medicine in the Chickasaw Nation’s 13-county jurisdictional area,” said Bill Anoatubby, Governor of the Chickasaw Nation.
The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma has also set aside $100,000 to support a Choctaw student to attend medical school at OSU. “It’s an honor to be part of this historic moment and to partner with the Cherokee Nation and the Chickasaw Nation to support OSU in their vision to train tomorrow’s tribal and small town doctors,” said Gary Batton, Chief of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma.
The Cherokee Nation, Chickasaw Nation and Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma have a combined financial impact of $7.2 billion on Oklahoma and are the economic engines for their respective regions. OSU Center for Health Sciences is the country’s leader in training Native American physicians. Nationally, only 0.2 percent of medical school graduates are Native American. At OSU Center for Health Sciences that percentage is as high as 16 percent some academic years.
Thirteen private scholarship donors to the new medical school include: Steve and Phyllis Anderson, Robin Flint Ballenger, Mallory Spoor-Baker, D.O. and Damon Baker, D.O., Natasha Bray, D.O. and Matthew Bray, Marnie and William J. Pettit, D.O., Beverly and Richard Schafer, D.O., and Cyndi Wilkett, D.O. and Matt Wilkett, D.O.