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Help Wanted: 124,000 Physicians

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Two independent osteopathic medicine programs are being organized in Maryland to address the critical medical workforce needs required to address the population health of the state and region.

The nationwide physician shortage continues to worsen, and the Association of American Medical Colleges has projected a shortage of up to 124,000 physicians by 2034. Maryland is no exception to the expanding shortages, where over one-third of active physicians are 60 years or older (11th highest in the US according to a 2018 report from the Robert Graham Center), and their retirement will leave a significant hole in the state’s workforce. The pandemic exposed great disparities in accessing health care which is felt most profoundly in our underserved communities across Maryland. For a state already experiencing physician shortages, fewer doctors equates to less access, which results in less care. Additionally, the continued lack of diversity in medicine further contributes to worse health outcomes and health inequities. Maryland is the 4th most diverse state in the Nation based on U.S. Census Bureau data from 2010 to 2020.

There will be a significant workforce shortage and the most effective solution will be to train more physicians who are socio-culturally prepared in markets where they are needed. The two new medical schools at Morgan State University and Meritus Health will be working collaboratively to amplify their impact across the state and region.

Meritus Health shared their intention to move forward with the accreditation and licensure process to open a four-year medical school in Hagerstown to positively impact health, education, and the local economy, to open the program to students in the fall of 2025. The proposed Meritus School of Osteopathic Medicine (MSOM) would operate on the existing Meritus Health campus in Hagerstown, Maryland.

“The needs of our rural community, and communities like us throughout Maryland and the United States, center on having access to great physicians,” explained Meritus Health President and CEO Maulik Joshi, Dr.P.H.

The proposed Maryland College of Osteopathic Medicine (MDCOM) has entered into a public-private partnership with Morgan State University that would operate on its Baltimore Campus. The proposed Maryland College of Osteopathic Medicine at Morgan State University is on track to be the first College of Osteopathic Medicine in the state and last month, the College announced a location to build their state-of-the-art facility, in the hopes of welcoming their first class of students to the school in 2024.

With the needs so great and the goals so aligned, the organizations are excited to work together to achieve common solutions. They are working to develop collaborative programs including:

  • Creating opportunities for rural and urban clinical rotations for students
  • Innovative curriculum built using best practices from the existing medical schools and health systems and the combined experience of the founding leadership at both proposed institutions
  • Collaborative population and community health research
  • Establishing a new community connection program for medical students in urban and rural setting
  • Pathway, pipeline and articulation programs for students interested in medical school
  • Faculty development and clinical education assessment programs for the new medical schools

“We are excited with what these two proposed schools will do to train generations of physicians to serve those in most need in the underserved urban and rural areas. This is a win for Maryland and the United States,” says Dr. Barbara Ross-Lee, Founding CEO of the proposed Maryland College of Osteopathic Medicine at Morgan State University.

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