ACOM Progresses Rapidly
SAMC's academic arm is successfully recruiting students and faculty.
MORE THAN 2,100 STUDENTS have submitted application for the 150 slots available for admission to the Alabama College of Osteopathic Medicine (ACOM) in Dothan, the state's first osteopathic medical college.
ACOM is the largest osteopathic school in the nation to be constructed by a not-for-profit regional medical center. ACOM is the academic division of the Houston County Health Care Authority of Southeast Alabama Medical Center (SAMC).
ACOM officials are giving first admission consideration to in-state students who meet all eligibility standards. ACOM's establishment was driven by a critical shortage of primary care physicians in Alabama. Students from the area who are also educated locally tend to establish their practices in the same geographical area.
"We are about where we expected to be in terms of the number of applicants," said ACOM Dean of Students Philip Reynolds, PhD. "We are accepting applications through March 2013."
The college will enroll 150 qualified students to be a part of the first class coming to campus in August. Faculty teams of two are conducting student interviews, bringing in 10-15 applicants twice weekly. There are a list of criteria that all applicants are being assessed from, beginning with academic credentials. Applicants are also being judged based on how motivated they are to complete their osteopathic education. Communication skills, professionalism and maturity are also considerations.
"We are looking at the totality of the person," said Associate Dean of Institutional Effectiveness and Integrity Nehad El-Sawi, PhD. "We want students with compassion, drive and a desire to serve. Good people with solid academics."
Reynolds said the feedback from prospective students has been positive. Students have been impressed with Dothan, pleased with its size and the retail offerings. Several have flown into Panama City Beach, and they especially like the close proximity to the beaches.
"Overall they like the community and they like that we are the only osteopathic medical school in the nation that is an academic unit of a medical center," said El-Sawi.
The college also continues to complete its hiring of the necessary 60 faculty and staff. More than half are on the job and others will have start dates between now and March.
Construction on the three-story college is ahead of schedule and under budget with work continuing on the interior. College administrators say they expect to move into the building in late spring, with medical equipment arriving in March.
ACOM is projected to have a statewide economic impact of $34.5 million by the time it opens in 2013, according to an independent study done by a national consulting firm.
The Southeast Alabama Medical Center Foundation serves as the philanthropic arm of ACOM and SAMC. The Foundation continues its efforts to support continued growth at the college through fundraising and other activities.
"Our goal is to increase the margin of excellence for the students who will be training at ACOM," said Angie Casey, capital campaign coordinator. "We hope to do that through providing funding for a range of things from scholarship opportunities to additional high-tech patient simulators. Additional training programs and even research are possibilities as well."
• More than 2,100 student applications received
• Offers of acceptance sent to 146 students
- 49 have made a deposit indicating they plan to enroll
- 43 of the 146 students are from Alabama or the southeast
You can be a part of this historic endeavor. For information on how you can help, please contact Angie Casey at the SAMC Foundation, 334-673-4150.