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Artist's rendering of proposed DCOM

LMU PURSUES ACCREDITATION FOR A COLLEGE OF OSTEOPATHIC MEDICINE



January 18, 2006 - Harrogate, Tennessee—Lincoln Memorial University has notified the Commission on Colleges (COC) of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) of its intent to initiate a College of Osteopathic Medicine (COM) and seek accreditation at Level V to award doctoral degrees. The new program represents LMU’s first Level V (doctoral/professional) degree program and requires approval from both SACS COC and the American Osteopathic Association’s Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation (AOA COCA) to achieve regional and professional accreditation. LMU received pre-accreditation status with the AOA COCA as a first step in pursuit of a fully accredited College of Osteopathic Medicine. The institution is working closely with SACS COC and AOA COCA to insure successful implementation of the new College of Osteopathic Medicine.

The idea of a school of medicine has been a long time dream for the Chairman of the LMU Board of Trustees, Pete DeBusk, businessman, entrepreneur and philanthropist. DeBusk, a native of Lee County, Virginia, the birthplace of Dr. Andrew Taylor Still, the father of osteopathic medicine, has a strong commitment to the people of the Appalachian region and to his alma mater, Lincoln Memorial University. Recruiting physicians in the Appalachian area remains a challenge. DeBusk feels that this new program and continued service to Appalachia will enhance the opportunity to solve this problem while fulfilling LMU’s mission and institutional strategic plan.

As background to the evolution of this program, Pete DeBusk is one of 17 members of the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC), a Medicare advisory board in Washington, DC. DeBusk occupies the technology seat, which allowed him to meet a fellow commissioner, Ray Stowers, D.O. Dr. Stowers represents rural physicians and the osteopathic profession on the MedPAC Commission.

Following lengthy discussions and visits to other osteopathic medical programs, Dr. Stowers was hired as one of two consultants who guided the conduct of a feasibility study to determine the institution’s readiness to initiate this program. Subsequent to this yearlong process, Dr. Stowers was hired as Vice President and Dean of the College of Osteopathic Medicine. During his brief tenure at LMU, Dr. Stowers, working collaboratively with President Nancy B. Moody and other administrative personnel, has hired several administrative staff; initiated curriculum development; contacted numerous healthcare agencies; sought external funding; visited clinics and health professionals throughout the region; worked closely to fully integrate the COM into the organizational structure of the university; and worked to demonstrate compliance with accreditation standards of SACS COC and AOA COCA.

Osteopathic physicians (D.O.s), like allopathic physicians (M.D.s), are fully qualified to practice medicine and surgery in each of the 50 states. Both D.O.s and M.D.s attend medical schools for four years, enter into specialties, must pass comparable state licensing requirements, practice and work side-by-side in fully accredited and licensed health care facilities. A difference between the two training systems is that Doctors’ of Osteopathic Medicine receive additional training in the musculoskeletal system. This additional instruction is delivered via manipulative therapy and the process of learning to use their hands to both diagnose and treat illnesses.

Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine are required to complete continuing education courses to remain current in their fields. Presently many osteopathic physicians work in underserved areas and approximately 65% of D.O.s practice in primary care specialties. Doctors’ of Osteopathic Medicine comprise a separate, yet equal, branch of American medical care that has been fully integrated into the nation’s health maintenance system.

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS COC) is recognized by the Department of Education as the regional body for accreditation of institutions for higher learning within 11 southern states and Latin America. SACS COC monitors institutions that award associate, baccalaureate, master’s or doctoral degrees. SACS COC accreditation demonstrates that an institution has a purpose appropriate to higher education, as well as the resources, programs and services necessary to accomplish and sustain that purpose.

AOA COCA is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as the only accrediting agency for pre-doctoral osteopathic medical education in the United States. Accreditation action taken by AOA COCA means a college or university has appropriately identified its mission and secured the necessary resources to accomplish that mission. Likewise, it insures that the institution shows evidence of accomplishing its mission as well as demonstrating that the mission will be accomplished in the future.

On July 8, 2005, the University submitted a letter to AOA COCA requesting applicant status. Following the completion of an exhaustive feasibility study by the University “Ad Hoc” Steering Committee, the LMU Board of Trustees voted unanimously to support the development of a College of Osteopathic Medicine. A pre-accreditation application was accepted, and the university was evaluated by a visiting team from AOA COCA on October 13, 2005. LMU was granted “pre-accreditation” status in mid-December 2005 with no deficiencies cited in the report. University officials continue to work closely with SACS to integrate the approval processes of both accrediting agencies. Recruitment of students will begin following the approval of both accrediting agencies. A targeted goal for the beginning of classes is the fall semester, 2007.

Historically, LMU operated a School of Medicine, which was located in Knoxville, in partnership with a group of local physicians from 1905 through 1914. Over a century later, a sense of “déjà vu” permeates the air of the main campus in Harrogate, as the new medical school will be located there. Dr. Nancy B. Moody, President, Lincoln Memorial University, stated that “establishment of this College of Osteopathic Medicine will have a significant economic, healthcare, and educational impact on the region. The growth that will occur as the result of this program will be felt far and wide.” Although the first two years of the program will be offered on the main campus in Harrogate, the last two years of the program will be conducted primarily in health care agencies in a corridor extending from Harrogate to Chattanooga with the bulk of clinical training being conducted in the greater metropolitan area of Knoxville.

Founded in 1897 as a living memorial to Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of the United States, the University’s mission is to serve the Appalachian region by providing quality programs in higher education. Remaining true to its mission, 80% of the current student body comes from the tri-state area of Tennessee, Kentucky and Virginia. Following graduation, statistics show that 64% of LMU graduates continue to live and work within a 75-mile radius of the main campus in Harrogate, Tennessee.

The need to provide health care professionals grew to a crisis level across the nation a generation ago. Lincoln Memorial University’s first measure for alleviating the crisis was to launch a high quality nursing program in 1974. Over the 32 years of service of the Associate of Science Degree in Nursing, the program has grown in size and is now offered at multiple sites in the institution’s service area. In the same time frame, over 5,000 nursing, medical technology, social work and athletic training graduates have joined the employment ranks. Sixty eight percent of LMU’s nursing graduates live and serve within 75 miles of the main campus. Pending approval by the Tennessee Board of Nursing (TBN), an additional enhancement to the educational offerings, which include a baccalaureate completion program for RN’s, will be the initiation of a new Master of Science in Nursing/Nurse Practitioner program slated to begin in August 2006. This program has already received approval from SACS COC.

LMU has experienced unprecedented growth over the past five academic years. This is truly a time of whitewater change at Lincoln Memorial University. The largest increase in enrollment has been in health-related programs and in graduate education. Concurrent with the growth in enrollment and in keeping with its mission, LMU has significantly expanded its traditionally strong faculty and staff and plans to recruit a diverse group of highly qualified professionals as it moves toward Level V accreditation with SACS COC. In an effort to strategically address growth in student enrollment, the university will continue to construct new academic buildings, additional residence halls, and a campus operations facility; to renovate existing facilities, including the library, science buildings, and residence halls; and to support changes in infrastructure, including technological enhancements.

Lincoln Memorial University is an accredited, values-based learning community, dedicated to providing educational experiences in the liberal arts and professional studies.

The 1,000 acre main campus is located on the Cumberland Gap Parkway in Harrogate, Tennessee. For more information about the undergraduate and graduate programs available at LMU, contact the Office of Admissions at (423) 869-6280 or email at admissions@lmunet.edu. For more information on the College of Osteopathic Medicine, call 423-869-7090 or e-mail COM@lmunet.edu.

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