TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee Nation and Oklahoma State University celebrated a construction milestone during Monday’s topping out ceremony for the new OSU College of Osteopathic Medicine at Cherokee Nation on the campus of W.W. Hastings Hospital in Tahlequah.

Monday’s ceremony included the installation of the final beam and signals the completion of the structural component of the new facility. Leaders from the Cherokee Nation and OSU Center for Health Sciences joined local, state and federal leaders along with the first five admitted osteopathic medical students to enroll at the college.

“Oklahoma State University has a particular focus on rural medicine and the Cherokee Nation has many citizens who live in rural areas. So it should be no surprise that this partnership is going to change the lives of every person in our region for decades to come,” Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. said. “We are inspiring a generation of young people to get into health sciences, to be the doctors and nurses and health care professionals of tomorrow. It is great that in 2019 in the Cherokee Nation, we can go to Cherokee families everywhere and tell them their sons and their daughters can not only serve their people as a doctor, but they can do it by graduating from the OSU College of Osteopathic Medicine right here in the heart of the Cherokee Nation.”

The OSU College of Osteopathic Medicine at Cherokee Nation is the first tribally affiliated medical school on tribal land in the country. The $40 million medical school will focus on educating primary care physicians who have an interest in serving Native and rural populations in Oklahoma.

The first class of 50 students is set to begin in August of 2020.

“Oklahoma’s health outcomes have suffered from the lack of access to primary care physicians,” said Dr. Kayse Shrum, president of OSU Center for Health Sciences. “The health and the lives of the Cherokee people and rural Oklahomans will be transformed as a result of the physicians who will graduate each year from the OSU College of Osteopathic Medicine at Cherokee Nation. My hope is that as this community and northeast Oklahoma experience our 200 medical students, the youth will be inspired in a new way. Students who never thought of medicine as a career will now pursue their medical degree here.”

The new 84,000-square-foot medical school’s teaching space will include an anatomy laboratory, clinical skills lab, osteopathic manipulative medicine lab, standardized patient labs and a simulation center that will feature a state-of-the-art simulation center equipped with life-like, computer-programmed manikins that mimic a number of medical conditions as well as three lecture halls and faculty areas.

The medical school is certified by the Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation and will host all four years of medical education at the Tahlequah campus.

The school will have 16 full-time faculty, five part-time faculty and numerous adjunct clinical faculty.