We were first to tell you about a major collaboration between the OSU medical school and the Cherokee Nation. Wednesday, an announcement made it official.
OSU and the Cherokee Nation will open the nation's first tribally affiliated medical school. Hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of scholarships for Native American medical students have already been donated and the school's first class is five times as big as they'd expected.
The Oklahoma State University College of Osteopathic Medicine will be the first tribally affiliated medical school in the nation and it'll be built right into Hastings Hospital in Tahlequah.
"This is really awesome. I love this town, I love this culture," said OSU medical student Brieanna Carlson.
OSU Medical students like Brieanna, who's a Cherokee herself, are already making plans to be part of it.
"I'm hoping to maybe do residency here later in the future," Carlson said.
Oklahoma State President Burns Hargis said the hope is that the close to 60,000 square foot facility will not only train the best doctors in the state but keep them close to home.
"Of course, physicians tend to practice where they do their residency, so it's the perfect opportunity to address the shortage of physicians in rural America," said Hargis.
Cherokee Nation Chief Bill John Baker said they originally hoped for 10 medical students per year but the first class will actually have 50.
"It is going to change health care and health delivery in the Cherokee nation for the next 7 generations," said Chief Baker.
The Cherokee Nation and Chickasaw Nation, along with other donors, are helping to provide $350,000 worth of scholarships to native students but the school won't be restricted to Native Americans only.
"Our job is to serve our state by training great talent, doing great research, and that's what this is all about," said President Hargis.
Classes are slated to begin in the fall of 2020.