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Health degree offerings to expand at Idaho State, Idaho College of Osteopathic Medicine


Health degree offerings to expand at Idaho State, Idaho College of Osteopathic Medicine

May 13, 2024 | 7:17 pm ET
By Kyle Pfannenstiel
Health degree offerings to expand at Idaho State, Idaho College of Osteopathic Medicine
The Idaho College of Osteopathic Medicine opened in Meridian in 2018. (Courtesy of ICOM)

Idaho State University and the Idaho College of Osteopathic Medicine on Monday committed to expand shared health science degree programs and enhance research.

The universities’ presidents signed a memorandum of understanding and announced the program expansions at an event in Meridian.

“Never has there been a more important time for the state to invest in the wellbeing of its citizens. And our two institutions — ISU and ICOM — are at the forefront of health sciences, education and workforce development,” said Robert Wagner, Idaho State University’s new president.

University officials said the colleges plan to expand jointly offered master’s degree programs in health administration, public health and health informatics.

Idaho State Vice President for Health Sciences Dr. Rex Force also announced plans for a nurse anesthesia program, set to launch in fall 2025, along with plans for a dental hygiene program in the Treasure Valley and a mental health clinic in Pocatello this summer.

Wagner said the institutions are working alongside other Idaho two- and four-year colleges. Force announced plans to partner with Lewis-Clark State College to train physician assistants in North Idaho.

Idaho State’s relationship with ICOM offers many opportunities for professional education, research and future-planned expansions of patient care, Force said.

ICOM, a private Meridian-based medical school, is set to graduate its third class of medical students, said ICOM President Dr. Tracy Farnsworth. ICOM hopes to grow through “natural, thoughtful and incremental adjustments in our class size” and to introduce new academic programs over time, he said.

“I’m a big fan of public private partnerships. None of us can do it alone,” Farnsworth said. 

Much of Idaho is and has been in a physician shortage. But beyond that, Idaho also needs to grow other health care workforces, where an aging population of workers is retiring, Force told the Sun in an interview. 

Idaho State has added nearly 700 students to its programs serving a range of health care professionals in the past five years, including in nursing, physical and occupational therapy and mental health, Force said at the event.

“Health science students made a record 41% of all graduates at the institution,” Force said. 

Idaho State’s Meridian campus has doubled in size since 2016 to over 200,000 square feet, Force said. Twenty-three acres under development are slated for student housing, clinical training and research facilities, Force said.

Idaho State University and ICOM health programs
Idaho State University President Robert Wagner joins other university officials to announce expanded health programs offered jointly with the Idaho College of Osteopathic Medicine. Kyle Pfannenstiel/Idaho Capital Sun