Applications to become a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) student are at national record highs for the 2011 entering class.

The College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific (COMP) in Pomona, Calif., and its new COMP-Northwest campus, in Lebanon, Ore., both part of Western University of Health Sciences, have combined total applications of more than 5,900.

As of Feb. 18, 2011, 3,905 applications had been submitted for COMP and 2,038 for COMP-Northwest.

“”The applicant pool for COMP-Northwest far exceeds the expected numbers,”” said Paula Crone, DO, Executive Associate Dean for COMP-Northwest.

“”Nationwide, there are 20 students applying for each filled seat, and our Oregon campus matches those numbers. I believe this reflects the great enthusiasm not only in the mid-Willamette Valley of Oregon for COMP-Northwest, but throughout the entire state. Oregon is ready for this.””

COMP-Northwest, which is in the process of enrolling it first 100 students, will hold its inaugural white coat ceremonies on July 30, 2011. Classes will begin Aug. 1.

WesternU’s COMP has seen application totals increase substantially in recent years, climbing from 2,607 during the 2007-08 academic year to more than 3,800 in each of the past two years.

The rise in applications to the nation’s osteopathic medical schools will help alleviate impending physician shortages, according to the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM). COMP-Northwest will address the physician shortage in a specific area by educating COMP-Northwest students to become Northwest doctors.

More than 13,500 aspiring physicians have applied to 26 osteopathic colleges nationally, a 7.3 percent increase over the number of applicants at the same time in 2010, according to AACOM.

“”These are excellent students,”” said AACOM President and CEO Dr. Stephen C. Shannon. “”Not only are their Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) scores and GPAs strong and steadily increasing, but they are demonstrating their community involvement and commitment through increased participation in service and research.””

Approximately 550 students will be interviewed for 220 DO medical student openings at WesternU’s Pomona campus. Enrollment is currently about 60 percent. Approximately 300 DO medical students will be interviewed for 100 openings at the Oregon campus. Enrollment is currently about 70 percent, said Susan Hanson, director of admissions for COMP.

Osteopathic physicians have a long history of practicing the entire scope of modern medicine, bringing a patient-centered, holistic, hands-on approach to diagnosing and treating illness and injury. More than 20 percent of new U.S. medical students are studying at osteopathic medical colleges. By 2015, more than 5,300 osteopathic physicians will graduate from the nation’s osteopathic medical schools each year, according to data provided by AACOM.

“”The country needs primary care physicians, and our osteopathic profession helps to fill that need,”” Crone said. “”We are stepping into the medical void by increasing enrollment in our schools and building new campuses to help our nation meet the demands of the new health care referendum. We will train our students with the latest technology and skills, but with compassion and caring.””

COMP has graduated nearly 4,000 Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine since the university was founded in 1977. COMP-Northwest will be the first new medical campus in Oregon in more than a century. The new COMP-Northwest facility is a 54,000-square-foot building due to be completed in spring 2011.