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Proposed College of Osteopathic Medicine

Innovating for the Commonwealth

Exploring the Potential for a College of Osteopathic Medicine

“It is our commitment to our students and the Commonwealth to continuously analyze the market and innovate to meet the needs of our community and beyond. Shortages in the healthcare workforce, especially recognized in eastern Kentucky and rural parts of the state, spurred us to ask how EKU can help fill these workforce gaps.”  – EKU President David McFaddin

Eastern Kentucky University (EKU) is exploring the possibility of offering a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degree. As the School of Opportunity, EKU is committed to meeting the rising healthcare needs in the state by seeking to introduce a new and cost-effective medical education program in Kentucky.

Kentucky Needs Physicians


94% of Kentucky’s counties already have a shortage of primary care providers.


Only 27% of the Kentucky physicians who completed residency between 2013 to 2022 are practicing in medically underserved areas in the Commonwealth.


Only 17% of Kentucky’s primary care physicians practice in rural areas.

From Next-Generation Healthcare Leaders

Medicine is a calling. You are able to comfort someone when they are in their most vulnerable state. I would love to come back to my hometown of Barbourville, Kentucky to practice medicine one day.

Lillian Jones

Junior Biomedical Sciences Major, Pre-Medical Concentration and Chemistry Minor

I do realize there’s a shortage of physicians in Kentucky, and to be able to help fight against that shortage would be an honor. If EKU were to open up a D.O. program, it would not only be great for students like me, but for patients as well.

Alejandro Tapia-Reyna

Junior Biomedical Sciences Major, Pre-Medical Concentration and Business Minor

I chose to come to EKU because, financially, it was one of the best options. I was able to go to school without it being a huge financial burden. That will help me with the cost of medical school.

Raina Boggs

Freshman Biomedical Sciences Major, Pre-Medical Concentration and Public Health Minor

Get Involved for a Better Kentucky



Support EKU’s Proposed College of Osteopathic Medicine

House Bill 407 would allow EKU to create the Commonwealth’s FIRST public College of Osteopathic Medicine.

Leave a message for your State Senator in support of House Bill 407

Sample message for State Senators: Please bring House Bill 407 up for a vote and VOTE YES. The Commonwealth has a critical shortage of physicians. EKU has a plan to address the shortage and provide opportunities for students to pursue their dreams.

Call 1-800-372-7181 or email today!

Taskforce Steering Committee Members

  • Colleen Chaney, Chief of Staff and Chief Communications Officer
  • Dr. Daniel Czech, Dean of the College of Health Sciences
  • Dana Fohl, University Counsel
  • Mary Beth Neiser, Vice President of University Development and Alumni Engagement
  • Barry Poynter, Senior Vice President for Finance and Administration
  • Amy Scarborough, Chief Government, Community and Corporate Relations Officer
  • Dr. Tanlee Wasson, Senior Vice President for Student Success, Engagement, and Opportunity
  • Dr. Sara Zeigler, Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs

Request for Proposal (RFP) 

To initiate the feasibility study, EKU has issued a request for proposal (RFP), seeking to identify an agency that can complete the analysis and make a recommendation. Agencies interested in completing the study can submit proposals here. Once the RFP window is closed, a review committee will determine the selected agency.

RFP Vendor Review Committee

  • Colleen Chaney, Chief of Staff and Chief Communications Officer
  • Dr. Daniel Czech, Dean of the College of Health Sciences
  • Dr. Brigette Holleran, Assistant Professor, School of Nursing
  • Dr. Dana Howell, Department Chair and Foundation Professor, Department of Occupational Therapy 
  • Dr. Dustin Wygant, Executive Director of Integrated Behavioral Health 
  • Dr. Erin Stevenson, Assistant Professor, Department of Social Work
  • Dr. Bethany Miller, Executive Director, Institutional Effectiveness and Research

Feasibility Study: Tentative Timeline

A proposed timeline has been created to begin the RFP process for the feasibility study. EKU’s goal is to conduct the study in the summer of 2024. Dates are estimates and subject to change.

feasibility study proposed timeline beginning in January 2024 and concluding in October 2024


What is Osteopathic Medicine?

The American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM) describes osteopathic medicine as a science-based discipline with a strong philosophical grounding that focuses on the whole person. For Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine, or DOs, a whole-person approach includes partnering with patients, considering the connection of body, mind and spirit in delivering care, and recognizing the role of a physician’s hands to diagnose and treat illness or injury. Emphasis on prevention and wellness is central in a philosophy that promotes the body’s natural tendency toward health and self-healing.

What is the difference between a DO and an MD?

Osteopathic medicine is a science-based discipline with a strong philosophical grounding that focuses on the whole person. It follows the French and Italian model of medical education, emphasizing examination and understanding of the people being cared for. This is in contrast to MD-granting (allopathic) medical schools, which are rooted in the German model of education, emphasizing laboratory-based evaluation of patients. Nevertheless, osteopathic medical school curricula are very similar to those used at U.S. allopathic medical schools, although the exact program varies by college.


Osteopathic medical school accreditation standards require training in internal medicine, obstetrics/gynecology, pediatrics, family practice, surgery, psychiatry, radiology, preventive medicine, and public health. Osteopathic medical schools emphasize early clinical contact. While the first two years focus on the biomedical and clinical sciences, the second two years delve deeper into patient-oriented clinical training. Most schools include time for elective courses as well.


DO clinical education follows a distributive model, wherein students are exposed to practicing in diverse healthcare settings. Although in-hospital experiences are an important aspect of clinical education, osteopathic medical students receive significant training in community hospitals as well as out-of-hospital ambulatory settings.


Osteopathic medical schools are accredited by the American Osteopathic Association Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation (COCA), recognized to accredit osteopathic medical education by the U.S. Department of Education. Many osteopathic medical schools are also accredited by a regional educational accrediting organization. New colleges of osteopathic medicine (COMs) hold provisional accreditation status during their first four years of student enrollment. A college holding provisional accreditation status may admit students and offer medical instruction. During the year preceding the graduation of its first class, a provisionally accredited COM will conduct various activities that will allow it to attain fully-accredited status.

How many Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine are in the nation? 

According to the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM) there are 38 accredited colleges of osteopathic medicine. These programs are located in 35 states and represent 61 teaching locations.

Why is EKU interested in a College of Osteopathic Medicine?

According to the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), only 47.7% of Kentucky’s need for primary care health professionals is met. Nearly all of the state’s 120 counties contain facilities designated as health professional shortage areas (HPSA) for primary care. EKU anticipates that by offering a College of Osteopathic Medicine, the number of shortage areas throughout the Commonwealth may be reduced.

Does EKU have established health care programs?

EKU has fueled the Commonwealth’s healthcare system with expert graduates from existing university programs including biomedical sciences, nursing, psychology, occupational therapy, public health, exercise and sport science, dietetics/food nutrition and recreational therapy programs for more than 60 years.

Will the results of the RFP be announced?

EKU will announce the results of the RFP after the selected agency has completed the feasibility study and the university has been given time to review the results.