Osteopathic school looks to expand By BOB DARROW The State News There's another medical school on campus planning an expansion outside East Lansing. MSU's College of Osteopathic Medicine has a four-year Detroit campus in the works that could be established by 2007. The College of Human Medicine has garnered attention with plans to expand to Grand Rapids, but the osteopathic school already has gone through an enrollment expansion. Osteopathic Medicine accepted an incoming class of about 125 students "literally for decades," said Pat Grauer, a spokeswoman for the college. For the past three years, the college's class size has grown, jumping to 205 students this year. College Dean William Strampel isn't stopping there he hopes to add another 50 students at the proposed Detroit campus. The college is expanding to address a projected nationwide shortfall of doctors in the next 15 years, Strampel said, and to provide wider access to students who want to attend medical school. More than 2,000 students apply to MSU's osteopathic school each year, and there simply isn't room for a good chunk of those who are qualified to get in, he said. Plans for the campus are still in the initial stages, and no final decisions have been made, Strampel said. Before a new campus could be created, it would need to be accredited by the American Osteopathic Association and approved by the MSU Board of Trustees. Several locations for the proposed campus are being considered, Strampel said, including the chance of sharing classroom space at the Eli Broad College of Business' Management Education Center in Troy. MSU is also exploring offers to lease space from Detroit hospitals. St. John Health has offered the college room in its Connor Creek Village a former hospital now providing a variety of health-care services. "That's kind of pie in the sky at this point," said Joseph McNerney, director of medical education for St. John Health's osteopathic division. Osteopathic Medicine is a whole body approach to treating human illnesses. The practice concentrates on the relationships between the organs, bones and tissues of the body in addition to the emotional and psychological well-being of the patient. McNerney said regardless of where the proposed campus is located, St. John Health is interested in entering a more formal relationship with the college, and he has already committed to increasing the number of students he takes in the coming years. The college is affiliated with 23 hospitals around the state, where students receive their third- and fourth-year education and graduates complete internships and residencies. Fourteen of those partners are in the Detroit area. "Many of those hospitals have thought for years they'd rather have the medical school in Detroit than in Lansing," Strampel said. He made it clear that won't be the case and said he has no intention of moving anything out of Lansing. The Detroit campus would probably have an associate dean on-site but would remain a branch of the Lansing campus. The college will likely have to add more clinical faculty in Detroit and might hire additional faculty to teach basic science or ask some faculty in Lansing to commute several days a week. Tuition dollars and increased research and grant revenues would help finance the campus, which would "probably become self-sufficient within four years," Strampel said. "I thought through the economics very heavily," he said. "I break even on everything I do, or I don't do it." Most faculty have been supportive of the expansion, Strampel said. "There are always people who have concerns," said Carol Monson, an associate professor and acting chairwoman of the department of family and community medicine. "The dean wants to hear what concerns we have and deal with them in an up-front manner." Monson and Jeff Frey, a second-year student in the college, agreed that Strampel has been straightforward in communicating his plans with faculty and students. They said more concerns have been raised about the larger class sizes, which have put space at a premium. "There were some growing pains," said Frey, who is president of his class. "People have adjusted; they kind of find their own little places to study." Frey added that he hasn't noticed the quality of students admitted diminish, and Monson said faculty have "stepped up to the plate" in taking on the influx of students. A new osteopathic program in Detroit shouldn't create the kind of competition that a traditional medical school could bring, McNerney said osteopathic physicians make up the minority of doctors. Osteopathic doctors go through a similar 11-year training as traditional M.D.s. They are fully licensed to perform surgery and prescribe drugs. MSU has the only osteopathic medical school in Michigan, and it is the ninth-ranked medical school in the nation for primary care. "I have more hospitals now that want our students than I have students I can put in the hospitals," Strampel said.