Cherokee Nation, OSU Officials Officially Open Tahlequah Medical School

Jan 18, 2021

Executive Chairman of Cherokee Nation Businesses Bill John Baker (left), Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr., OSU Center for Health Sciences President and College of Medicine Dean Dr. Kayse Shrum and OSU College of Osteopathic Medicine at the Cherokee Nation Dean Dr. William J. Pettit participated in a ribbon cutting for the Tahlequah school on Friday.
Credit OSU Center for Health Sciences

The OSU College of Osteopathic Medicine at the Cherokee Nation is officially open after a private ribbon cutting.

Medical school students and faculty started using the building earlier this month.

Cherokee Nation officials had been discussing a Tahlequah medical school for about a decade before announcing a partnership with OSU in October 2018. The $40 million, 84,000-square foot facility is on the campus of W.W. Hastings Hospital.

"This beautiful new building reflects that unflinching commitment. It’s more than a home to our medical school. It’s a symbol of hope for the future and a promise for a healthier tomorrow for Oklahoma," said Dr. Kayse Shrum, president of the OSU Center for Health Sciences and dean of the college of medicine, which also has a campus in Tulsa.

Cherokee nation and OSU officials hope the medical school helps address a shortage of primary care doctors in rural Oklahoma and inspires more Native youths to go into the field.

"Anytime we give opportunities to our young people to be educated in medicine and recruit them for jobs here, it’s a win-win," said Associate Dean of Rural and Tribal Health Dr. Doug Nolan.

The school's inaugural class of 54 students had their first semester of classes in a nearby outpatient clinic. The class is 20% Native American, and 40% of students are from rural areas. Less than 1% of medical students nationwide are Native Americans.