UNC to Add Osteopathic Medical School

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Map of areas of medical professional shortages in Colorado.
Image courtesy of RHIhub

The University of Northern Colorado is often known for the pre-nursing and teaching programs, and while UNC sends many students out into the professional world with degrees, the entire planet, and especially the Northern Colorado community are in great need of more medical professionals and doctors. UNC will be filling some of that need as soon as Fall 2025. 

Back in June, President Andy Feinstein proposed the idea of a feasibility study into an osteopathic medical school joining UNC. Through consulting firm Tripp Umbach, the university did investigations into the university and Greeley community, asking community members and researching the number of doctors needed in the area. At the beginning of November, Feinstein and Paul Umbach, the founder and president of Tripp Umbach, gave a presentation and town hall about the findings of the feasibility study. At the presentation, Umbach stated that the university and the community would benefit greatly from starting an osteopathic medical school here in Greeley. 

“Where weld county is, is where the biggest health provider shortages are happening. You have such a beautiful county… there’s a lot of real estate out there, but there is also fewer and fewer physicians in these smaller communities and there is a need for local medical schools to repopulate that,” said Umbach. 

After the initial town hall on November 4, Umbach and Feinstein took the findings to the board of trustees for approval, and on November 15, there was an announcement saying that the school would be moving forward as planned. 

“Our university was founded 132 years ago in response to the need for teachers in communities across Colorado. Today, we find ourselves positioned to meet another critical challenge that will shape the health, strength and growth potential of Greeley, Weld County, and the state for many years to come,” Feinstein said.

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The difference between an osteopathic medical school and a traditional medical school is that graduates will be D.O.’s or doctors of osteopathy and will be able to treat like a regular M.D. with the addition of a more touch based, physical approach. If the plan stays on the projected path, the first students will begin at the medical school as early as fall 2025. With the move forward, UNC will need to hire a dean and get through an osteopathic accreditation program before needing to secure $135 million to begin. 

Students currently at UNC in the College of National and Health Science will continue to have their own resources provided by the university, and the hope is that a medical program will additionally help the existing pre-health programs. Despite this promise that NHS and the rest of the university will stay the same, there is not yet funding for the medical school, and it is likely that tuition will be affected by the addition of the medical school.

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