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East Central University students now have the opportunity to gain early admittance to the College of Osteopathic Medicine at the Oklahoma State University Center for Health and Sciences in Tulsa.

The OSU College of Osteopathic Medicine seeks to admit students who desire to become primary care physicians in rural and underserved Oklahoma. The Rural and Underserved Primary Care Early Admissions Program allows ECU students to complete pre-doctoral medical training in seven years.

OSU-COM and the selection committee recognize that ECU’s College of Health and Sciences provides rigorous academic preparation for a variety of careers. Utilizing a preset pre-medical curriculum for each course for the first three years at ECU and combined with the OSU-COM first-year curriculum as their fourth year, students will earn a bachelor of science degree from ECU.

The students then progress through the second, third and fourth years of the rural and underserved medical track to graduate with a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degree.

During the admission period in 2011, ECU had a higher percentage of its students accepted into the Oklahoma State University College of Osteopathic Medicine than any of the other 14 universities whose students also applied.

Dr. Nick Cheper, chair of ECU’s Biology Department, said all seven of the ECU students who applied to the OSU medical school, part of the Oklahoma State University Center for Health Science in Tulsa, were selected for interviews. Six of the seven ECU students, or 86 percent of the ECU applicants, were accepted, and five, or 71 percent, enrolled and are medical students this year in Tulsa.

“The sixth student had two choices,” Cheper said, “and decided to enroll at another medical school.”

The figures Cheper cited were provided by OSU. Students who applied were from OSU, the University of Oklahoma, University of Tulsa, University of Central Oklahoma, Oral Roberts University, Southwestern Oklahoma State, Rogers State, Oklahoma Baptist, Southeastern Oklahoma State, Oklahoma Christian, Oklahoma Wesleyan and Panhandle State, as well as the University of Arkansas-Fayetteville.

“We’re very successful in getting our graduates accepted into medical school,” Cheper said. “We obviously don’t have as many students applying as OSU or OU, but the OSU medical school personnel recognize that we have good students.

“When they see a letter of recommendation from an ECU faculty member, they know that (the applicant is) a quality student.”

Cheper said ECU faculty meet with the OSU medical center faculty and attend various campus events in Tulsa. Cheper also said OSU works with ECU’s faculty to help become applicants.

“We do everything we can to prepare students for admission to medical school,” he said.

Out of the 265 applicants last year, OSU interviewed 147 prospective medical students and accepted 89. Of those, 74, including the five ECU students, went on to enroll.

OSU medical school recruiter Maghin Abernathy will be on the ECU campus on Nov. 26 at 6 p.m. at the Estep Center of the Bill S. Cole University Center, providing students with the opportunity to obtain information about the College of Osteopathic Medicine as well as help introduce the new early admission agreement program.

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