OSU seeking to increase med students to meet rural MD demand

STILLWATER Okla.
Regents governing Oklahoma
State University
plan to seek state funding to increase the number of students attending the OSU
medical school to help ease an expected rural doctor shortage.

OSU Center
for Health Sciences President John Fernandes on Friday predicted a shortage of
299 rural physicians by 2010.

“There’s no time to waste,” Fernandes told regents
during their monthly meeting. “There’s a lot of national data that we need
more doctors and health care professionals, and certainly in Oklahoma.”

Increasing class sizes from 88 to 115 would cost about $1.8
million the first year and $3.2 million to fully implement within four years,
Fernandes said. Existing classrooms and clinical space can support a larger
student population, but more faculty would have to be hired and labs would need
expansion.

More than 1,679 students applied to the school for the
upcoming year and 1,172 were found qualified. Just 88 were admitted.

OSU Regents plan to go to State Regents with their funding
request.

The Board of Regents for the Oklahoma Agricultural and Mechanical
Colleges also approved a new health insurance provider for employees of all OSU
campuses, switching from the self-funded state plan for education workers to a
three-year contract with BlueCross BlueShield of Oklahoma.

The agreement starts Jan.1 and guarantees premiums will not
increase more than 5 percent in 2009 or 2010. Savings range from $34 to $130 a
month for plans for employees and their families.

Under the plan, employees can select from a PPO, HMO or a
high deductible plan with a health savings account.

Over the three-year contract, OSU will study ways to keep
health costs down, including wellness initiatives and possibly a new
self-funded system.

Regents also approved an academic integrity policy that sets
up a system of appeals in cases of academic dishonesty, and affirms the regents
right to revoke diplomas in rare cases of plagiarism.

Information from: The Oklahoman, http://www.newsok.com


– Associated Press



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