Cherokee Nation, OSU Make History With Launch Of New Medical School

Friday, January 15th 2021, 6:25 pm


The Cherokee Nation and Oklahoma State University made history Friday, opening the first tribally affiliated medical school in the United States.

Medical students from across the nation can now train in the new College of Osteopathic Medicine, paid for by the Cherokee Nation and run by OSU.

News On 6's Amelia Mugavero has the story.

On Friday, leaders cut the ribbon to officially open the 84,000 square foot OSU College of Osteopathic Medicine at Cherokee Nation medical school campus in Tahlequah. It’s the first tribally affiliated medical school on tribal land in the United States. 

It will train Native and non-Native students to practice medicine in rural Northeastern Oklahoma and within tribal nations.

Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin, Jr. said this part of the state has struggled with health and low life expectancies. He said the college will change that. 

"If you go back a few decades, medical care was very different. Here at the OSU medical school you can see a pipeline of doctors serving everyone in the years to come,” Hoskin said.

Associate Dean Natasha Bray showed off the new $40 million facility. 

From their labs, to their technology and fitness center, everything is state-of-the-art. Bray showed News on 6 the simulation lab, wheelers students can treat and operate on “Pete,” the computerized patient. He can breathe, talk, and even blink like a human. Bray said students actually can treat him for any kind of illness from pneumonia to COVID-19

President of OSU Health Sciences Kayse Shrum said the college will graduate 50 new physicians every year and many will stay in the state.

“Really means that they're connected to their community, and by doing so they're likely to stay here and practice in their community and transform healthcare,” said Shrum. 

Students had their first day of school in the college last week. Medical Student Caitlin Cosby is from Texas, but plans to continue practicing medicine in the Sooner State. 

"It just makes me want to give back to those communities and serve the people that need it here in Oklahoma,” said Cosby.