Leaders from the Cherokee Nation and Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences gathered in Tahlequah Monday to break ground on the 84,000-square-foot OSU College of Osteopathic Medicine at the Cherokee Nation.

The new, accredited medical school campus will be on the W.W. Hastings campus, and is the first tribally affiliated medical school on tribal land in the United States.

“Health care in Indian Country took a major step forward today with the historic groundbreaking of the OSU College of Osteopathic Medicine at the Cherokee Nation,” said Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker. “We believe this school will produce a new wave of medical students who will possess the medical knowledge and the mindset to reside and practice in northeast Oklahoma, positively impacting Cherokee Nation health care and other health care systems across the region.”

The facility will feature state-of-the-art classrooms, lecture halls and cutting-edge technology such as computer-programmable manikins and medical simulation.

The college is slated to open with 50 students in 2020, and is expected to serve 200 students when it becomes fully operational. The first graduating class is expected to complete their medical education at the new facility in May 2024.

"The OSU College of Osteopathic Medicine and the Cherokee Nation have a shared vision of populating rural and underserved Oklahoma with OSU primary care physicians," said Kayse Shrum, OSU-CHS president and dean of the OSU College of Osteopathic Medicine. "I can't think of a better way to achieve this vision than by partnering with the Cherokee Nation to establish the OSU College of Osteopathic Medicine at the Cherokee Nation.”

Cherokee Nation citizen and OSU medical school student Ryan Young recently completed his first year at OSU’s medical school in Tulsa and is excited for the opportunity future medical school students will have to receive their education close to home.

“The new medical school campus will allow future students to have an easier transition into medical school,” Young said. “They won’t be moving to a different town or area. They’ll be going to school in their hometown, which I would have loved that opportunity.”

The new medical school will include 16 full-time faculty, five part-time faculty, and numerous adjunct clinical faculty, and is certified by the Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation.