Interest in a medical school being launched by Marian University has been high, with the school set to max out its allowed enrollment this fall.
Marian’s College of Osteopathic Medicine—which will be only the second medical school in Indiana—will enroll 162 students this fall, about 8 percent more than it planned.
The school, first announced in January 2010, aimed to enroll 150 students per year for a total student body of about 600 once it has fully ramped up. Applications to Marian’s program have totaled about 3,000.
“They look very, very strong,” Marian President Dan Elsener said. “Very strong in numbers, very strong in quality.”
Elsener said about 80 to 100 students in of the medical school’s first class will be from Indiana.
One of Marian’s main goals in starting the school is to boost the numbers of primary care physicians in Indiana. The percentage of Indiana University School of Medicine graduates who specialize in primary care has declined steadily since 1997, when the federal Medicare program cut reimbursement for primary care services.
But colleges of osteopathic medicine have had more success producing primary care physicians. Sixty-two percent of the 855 doctors of osteopathy in Indiana are primary care physicians. By contrast, 38 percent of IU’s recent medical school graduates went into primary care.
The differences between doctors of osteopathy, or DOs, and doctors of medicine, or MDs, are subtle. Doctors of osteopathy receive the same education as doctors of medicine, but go through extra training on the muscular and skeletal systems. DOs use their hands to move muscles and joints to diagnose, treat or even prevent illness and injury.
Marian initially said it needed $75 million to launch the medical school, but the price tag is turning out to be closer to $150 million. That’s partly because Marian has had to beef up other programs in its university—such as its undergraduate science and math offering—to support the medical school. Marian has hired 24 new Ph.D. scientists to be professors in or supporting the medical school.
Marian has raised about $90 million toward that goal, Elsener said. More than half of that total came in the form of a pledge from Michael Evans, CEO of Indianapolis-based AIT Laboratories.
AIT's struggles have made it likely that Evans will have to slow down his pace of payments on his commitment, Elsener said. But he said other gifts have come in faster. Those, along with the larger-than-expected enrollment, will allow Marian to charge ahead even if Evans’ gift comes in more slowly than planned, he added.
“All the other gifts are actually on time or ahead of time,” Elsener said. “Thankfully, we have a broad base of donors.”