September 20, 2018
Writer: Emma Hassell

Idaho’s first medical school opened in August and holds potential for the future of medicine in Idaho. The plans for the school began four years ago and it’s located in Meridian, Idaho. The goal is to serve and provide medical treatment to the five-state region of Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota. 

Idaho ranks 49th in terms of overall physicians per capita according to the 2017 State Physician Workforce Data Report published by the Association of American Medical Colleges. Because the baby boomer generation is going into retirement, they’re needing more health care. Now Idaho is experiencing a shortage of physicians. 

ICOM Dean Dr. Robert Hasty says the school is going to change health care in the region for generations to come. 

“By training caring and confident physicians for Idaho and for the region, it’s going to supply excellent and well-trained and caring physicians for Idaho, rural areas of Idaho, the region and the nation,” he said. 

Dr. Hasty has been in academic medicine for the last 14 years. During this time, he’s been a program director of residency programs, served as Vice-Chair of the Internal Medicine Department at Nova Southeastern University of Osteopathic Medicine in Florida and was the founding Associate Dean at North Carolina’s first osteopathic medicine school before he was hired as the dean of ICOM three years ago. 

Right now, ICOM has 42 students from Idaho, 14 students from the five-state region, and the rest are from all around the country but mainly from California, Texas, Florida, Illinois and Arizona. 

Jarom Ruby is a student who graduated from BYU-Idaho with a degree in biochemistry. He’s part of the inaugural class of ICOM and he explained why being in the first class is unique.

“There are no upper classmen, so we can’t look up to anybody to ask for advice except for faculty,” he said. “And it’s really nice that way because we have the faculty all to ourselves so we’re able to get a lot of access to them and their various expertise from different medical fields who we get one-on-one time with if we want.”

Since ICOM’s mission is to serve the five-state region, Dr. Hasty explained they are focusing on accepting graduate students in the region. 

“We guarantee an interview, not admissions, for any Idahoan who actually meets our minimum criteria,” he said. “So we really want to get those Idahoans who have the fire and the belly to become physicians to apply and matriculate here.”

ICOM is partnered with Idaho State University and hospitals around Idaho. Dr. Hasty acknowledged the importance of graduating students from BYU-Idaho which he calls BYU. 

“We value our students from BYU. What we’ve already seen from students from BYU is that they’re extremely well-trained, and they do extremely well in the admissions process,” he said. “Please send us more students from BYU.”

ICOM began classes on August 15th. For more information, visit idahocom.org or call 208-696-4266. For general inquiries, email info@idahocom.org