Wednesday, July 9, the Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine welcomed its first 50 students to classes at the new Dublin campus.
The school, in the works since 2011, will train doctors for four years with the hope that they'll remain in central Ohio after graduation to deal with a shortage of primary care physicians in the area.
William Burke, dean of the Dublin medical campus, said OU has a good track record already with 50 percent of its graduates going into primary care specialties and 60 percent staying in Ohio.
"When you look at it a little more closely, there are 23 areas in Franklin County that are designated by the federal government as in a health professional shortage," he said. "That's one of the challenges we have in rural Ohio and urban Ohio," Burke said.
"We're hoping to make a dent in areas that still have physician shortages in Franklin County."
Competition to get into OU's medical school in Athens and Dublin was stiff, Burke said.
"We had more applications this year than last year for spots at the heritage college," he said.
"There were over 4,000 applications for 190 slots."
Most of the students that will make up the inaugural class at the new Dublin campus call Ohio home.
"Of the 50, 48 are from Ohio which we're really excited about," Burke said.
"At least half of them are from central Ohio, but others of them may have had a connection to central Ohio or may have gone to college in central Ohio."
The four years the students will spend at the Dublin campus learning their trade will impact local hospitals as students venture out for an early clinical program and later rotations.
The new school's impact will likely be felt from beyond there.
A study suggested the school could have an economic impact of $26.4 million annually by the time it is fully operational in four years, Burke said.
"We're creating 145 jobs and will generate $1-million-plus for the local government," he said.
"It's a great opportunity for us to partner with Dublin as a state-based institution to help with patient care."
The school has already invested millions in renovating the campus which formerly hosted Dublin's Entrepreneurial Center and offices.
More investment will come with the expansion of the campus.
Per an economic development agreement, Dublin recently gave OU more land to build a college of health science and professions.
"The physician's assistant program will start in May 2015," Burke said.
"We look forward to a number of collaborative programs between the medical students and (physician's assistant) students," he said.
"It's all about medical-based care that will start in education from day one."
By the time the first medical class graduates in 2018, OU expects to be in procession of almost 90 acres of land in the area for anticipated campus growth, Burke said.
"One of the reasons we chose central Ohio is we have a large number of applicants that come from central Ohio and many folks want to stay and practice closer to home," he said.
"The goal is to get as many central Ohio graduates to be able to acquire a residency program in one of the central Ohio hospitals. The majority of individuals stay and practice in the community where they train."
With classes on the new Dublin campus starting this month, a grand opening celebration is slated for Aug. 23.