Duquesne University’s plans to open a school of osteopathic medicine will be a boon for a country facing a shortage of doctors.
Duquesne’s medical school, expected to admit its first class in 2023, can deliver maximum impact if its doctors-in-training learn to work hand in hand with the other health professionals who play an increasingly important role in care delivery. Many of those other professionals — physician assistants, nurses, pharmacists and physical therapists — also get their degrees at Duquesne, so a high level of collaboration is feasible.
Interdisciplinary exposure is one feature, among many others, that could set Duquesne’s program apart from the traditionally freestanding school of osteopathic medicine. In its five-year strategic plan, rolled out last year, Duquesne proposed the creation of a “simulation hospital” where students from various disciplines would work together. Medical students would fit right in.
Duquesne should do all that it can to encourage its students to practice — if only for a few years — in rural or poor counties that struggle to attract doctors. Duquesne’s Spiritan mission and its location on the doorstep of Appalachia are two reasons to make this an imperative. Duquesne’s commitment to underserved areas, as outlined in the strategic plan, and its long dedication to the study of health care ethics.
Duquesne’s entry into medical school education is cause for celebration in a city that’s long been a leader in health care. If properly executed, the new institution can have an influence that well exceeds the number of doctors it graduates each year.