New venture

OSU, Cherokee Nation developing nation’s first tribally affiliated med school

The OSU College of Osteopathic Medicine at the Cherokee Nation is expected to improve health care delivery in rural areas of Oklahoma.

The Cherokee Nation is partnering with Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences to establish the first medical school in the nation to be tribally affiliated.

The OSU College of Osteopathic Medicine at the Cherokee Nation is expected to improve health care delivery in rural areas of Oklahoma, according to a statement by OSU and Cherokee Nation leaders.

Leaders from OSU and the Cherokee Nation gathered on Wednesday in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, to share more details about their plans for the medical school, which is set to open in 2020 with an inaugural class of 50 students.

Recruiting primary care physicians

“Recruiting primary care physicians to practice within the Cherokee Nation’s 14-county jurisdiction remains a constant struggle,” said Bill John Baker, principal chief of the Cherokee Nation, in a statement. “We admire and support OSU Center for Health Sciences’ efforts to populate rural Oklahoma with doctors from rural Oklahoma.”

Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker (left) with Kayse Shrum, DO, dean of OSU-COM.

The new medical school will hold classes in Tahlequah, where a campus is in the works at W.W. Hastings Hospital, a Cherokee Nation facility, the Tulsa World reported. The goal is for enrollment to include Cherokee and non-Cherokee students, according to the Tulsa World.

Just 0.2 percent of the nation’s medical students are Native American, but at OSU-COM, up to 16 percent of the student body is Native American some years, according to the school.

A growing partnership

“Our partnership with the Cherokee Nation has deepened over the past 12 years,” Kayse Shrum, DO, OSU-CHS president and OSU-COM dean, said in a statement. “In 2006, our medical students started completing clinical rotations at W.W. Hastings Hospital. In 2009, we established a family medicine residency program in Tahlequah. We now have the opportunity to take this partnership to the next level through the creation of a new college of medicine.”


  1. The Osteopathic profession expands its service to the medically under-served with this new medical school while involving a significantly overlooked minority.
    Sincere congratulations to the administration and other leaders of OSU-COM.

    Stanley P. Brysacz, D.O.
    Assistant Professor

Leave a comment Please see our comment policy