Touro on track to open with first medical school class in July 2023
The president of the Touro College and University System was in town last week visiting the new campus that’s currently under construction and visiting with local officials.
Dr. Alan Kadish heads Touro, the largest Jewish-sponsored educational institution in the U.S., which is currently building an osteopathic medical school on a site near Benefis Health System.
The school is not yet approved, but is working through the accreditation process with the Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation, Kadish said.
The Great Falls campus can’t begin accepting students until the accreditation is approved, which Kadish expects at the commission’s late August meeting, but since the campus will be a branch of the larger Touro system, applications are already being submitted.
He said that they expect to open the school with the first class of 125 students in July 2023.
Over time, Kadish said they hope to have a significant cadre of students from Montana, but also those that will come to Great Falls and stay in Montana to work in healthcare. They want to recruit local students, but Kadish said he expects it to take some time to get known in the state and that they’ll likely go into high schools and colleges to encourage students to pursue careers in healthcare.
The goal is to increase access to healthcare by training medical professions and Kadish said that interest in medical school has remained high, despite the toll of the pandemic.
He said that at their New York campuses, they have about 8,000 applications for 260 spaces.
Kadish said that even through the COVID pandemic, medical school applications have increased and that they are about twice what they were a few years ago, so that there’s still interest.
He said that interest isn’t universal in the healthcare field, where those in public health had a tough few years and interest has waned.
Students from any educational background can apply for medical school but there are standard prerequisites and requirements, Kadish said.
Deb Kottel, of the University of Providence and St. Vincent de Paul, said that she thinks Touro opening a campus in Great Falls creates opportunities for students in the rural areas, smaller towns towns and the American Indian students in the area who might not have considered healthcare as an option previously.
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Touro also has a master’s program for students who might not fully meet the requirements for admission to medical school. They are admitted to the one-year master’s program and if they demonstrate they can do the work, they’re admitted to the full medical school program, Kadish said.
The residencies for medical students are being developed and there will be a national match process, but Kadish said they’re hoping to get good local matches as well.
Touro is also partnering with Benefis Health System and the McLaughlin Research Institute, whose director will serve as the dean for research at the Great Falls Touro campus, Kadish said.
Some staff are already in Great Falls, including Dr. Elizabeth Palmarozzi, the founding dean of the Great Falls campus.
The dean for basic sciences has been spending time in Great Falls, he said, but is still trying to find housing.
More employees will be coming soon, he said, but housing has been a challenge.
Kadish said they’re working with people in the community to ensure housing for their employees and a private developer is currently constructing an apartment complex that will be student housing for the medical school.
He said that among the things that make Touro unique are their effort to teach the importance of community service and that they’re geographically and academically diverse. There are campuses in 10 cities, including Great Falls, Kadish said.
“We’re used to operating in different places, where we see there’s a need and opportunity, we try to do that,” he said.
Kadish said he expects that once the campus is operational, they’ll have 40-50 faculty and 40-50 other staff, as well as about 500 medical students, 60 masters students and 100 or so residencies.
“We think it could be a big impact to the community” Kadish said.
Nationwide, Touro has about 19,000 students, 7,000 of those in healthcare programs, and about a twentieth of all medical students nationwide are in the Touro system, Kadish said. The Touro system also has business and law programs, among others.