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Work progresses on Liberty's new College of Osteopathic Medicine

Liberty University Center for Medical and Health Sciences

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A new structure has emerged at the edge of Liberty University’s scenic mountain property that will soon become the training ground for Liberty’s first physicians. When the doors open this May, the new Center for Medical and Health Sciences will usher in one of the university’s signature programs.

Provisional accreditation

The Liberty University College of Osteopathic Medicine (LUCOM) was granted provisional accreditation in August from the American Osteopathic Association Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation (AOA-COCA), becoming the 30th college of osteopathic medicine in the nation and the second in Virginia. The action was also acknowledged by Liberty’s accrediting agency, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

The inaugural class will begin in August 2014 with an expected 150 students.

The mission

A student completing the four-year program will graduate with a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.) degree. A licensed D.O. has the same unlimited practice rights nationwide as an M.D. LUCOM will seek to advance the osteopathic profession, advocating for the body’s inherent ability to heal itself. Osteopathic medicine embraces a philosophy of caring for the body, mind, and spirit, which aligns well with the university’s mission.

“LUCOM will improve the lives of countless students, professionals, and patients through its efforts to provide medical education, research, and service, with an expressed goal of developing great physicians, individuals who become more than doctors and emulate Jesus as healers of men,” said LUCOM’s dean, Dr. Ronnie B. Martin, D.O., FACOFP-dist. “It will not only advance Liberty’s mission of Training Champions for Christ, but will advance our mission of demonstrating the love and service expected of us as Christians.”

With osteopathic physicians practicing in every discipline of medicine, they have become major contributors to the health and welfare of patients across the globe. “For more than 130 years, osteopathic physicians have built a tradition of bringing health care to where it is needed most,” Martin said.

One of LUCOM’s primary goals is to place physicians in underserved areas of the state. About 67 percent of residents in southern Virginia live in medically underserved areas where the regional economies have suffered since the decline of the tobacco, textile, and coal industries over the past two decades. Students will be offered incentives, including tuition discounts, to serve in those areas.

LUCOM has partnered with a number of local and regional hospitals and community health care centers to provide residencies for students.

The facility

Plans to launch Liberty’s first medical school were announced in September 2011 and a groundbreaking was held in November 2012. The 140,000-square-foot, four-story building provides breathtaking views of the Blue Ridge Mountains to the north and west. It is scheduled for a May 2014 opening.

The $40 million facility will include state-of-the-art technology, simulation and standardized patient education facilities; extensive clinical medicine, osteopathic manipulative medicine (OMM) and anatomy labs; an expansive learning resource center; an interactive electronic library; and a thoroughly equipped research lab and center. It will contain a comprehensive medical clinic to serve the community and will boast the ability to broadcast medical educational presentations around the world. The building will also house a portion of the School of Health Sciences, including the new Master of Public Health program and administrative offices.

The facility is being made possible in part through $20.5 million in grants from the Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission.

Watch the construction on a live webcam.