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TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — The Cherokee Nation and Oklahoma State University celebrated another milestone with the official ribbon cutting ceremony at the OSU College of Osteopathic Medicine at the Cherokee Nation on Friday, Jan. 15.

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

The 84,000-square-foot facility opened its doors to students, faculty and staff just after the new year. Friday’s ceremony commemorates the completion of the project.

“The opening of the OSU College of Osteopathic Medicine at Cherokee Nation is a historic achievement for all of Indian Country as we produce more Native and rural doctors for our people,” Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. said.

“We know that Native Americans make up only 0.2 percent of medical students nationwide and through this partnership we can now actively increase the shortage of diverse physicians and recruit them to work upon graduating. Through these efforts and our partnership with Oklahoma State University, we will continue to make advances in our tribal health system,” Hoskins continued.

“This ribbon cutting brings us to the end of an almost decade-long journey to transform a shared vision into reality. We are here because the Cherokee Nation and Oklahoma State University endeavored to find a common solution to their individual challenges through a shared vision,” OSU Center for Health Sciences President and OSU-COM Dean Dr. Kayse Shrum said. “This partnership is an example of the tremendous good that can occur when trust is the foundation of a relationship. My hope is that future physicians who train at the OSU College of Osteopathic Medicine at the Cherokee Nation will strive to emulate the special relationship that we are blessed to share with our good friends at the Cherokee Nation.”

The new $40 million medical school site constructed by the Cherokee Nation for OSU is an additional location of the OSU College of Osteopathic Medicine in Tulsa. It is located on the W.W. Hastings Hospital campus in Tahlequah, the capital of the Cherokee Nation.

OSUCOM at the Cherokee Nation welcomed its inaugural class of 54 students, including 11 Native American students, during a White Coat Ceremony held on July 31. During their first semester, classes were held in a section of the new Cherokee Nation Outpatient Health Center, which is located next door to W.W. Hastings Hospital. It opened in fall 2019.

Also attending were former Principal Chief and current Executive Chairman of Cherokee Nation Businesses Bill John Baker; Cherokee Nation Delegate to Congress Kim Teehee; and Tribal Councilor Dr. Mike Dobbins, co-chair of the Council of the Cherokee Nation’s Health Committee.

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The Native News Health Desk is made possible by a generous grant from the National Institute for Health Care Management Foundation as well as sponsorship support from the American Dental Association. This grant funding and sponsorship support have no effect on editorial consideration in Native News Online. 
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