Lebanon, OR

Western University of Health Sciences’ College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific (COMP) will break ground June 23 for its Northwest Campus at Samaritan Health Services’ (SHS) Health Sciences Center, establishing a permanent home in the Northwest.

Under the direction of Founding Executive Associate Dean Paula Crone, DO, a 1992 COMP graduate, 100 students will begin their osteopathic medical education in the 54,000-square-foot state-of the-art facility beginning in the summer of 2011. DOs follow a "whole-person" approach to medicine and are fully qualified physicians licensed in all 50 states to prescribe medication and perform surgery.

Planning for the campus began more than two years ago, and builds on the five-year success of the Northwest Track program. The program – which draws from six Northwest states – presently trains osteopathic medical students for the first two years at WesternU’s main campus in Pomona, CA, then returns them, for their two clinical years, to teaching sites around the Northwest. The new campus will allow all four years of COMP training to take place in the Northwest.

The groundbreaking continues the collaboration between SHS and Western University. In January 2008, the two organizations announced plans to partner in the development of the medical school as part of the Samaritan Health Sciences Center in Lebanon. The center will eventually offer a variety of health professions programs in addition to a hotel and conference center, medical office building and other support services. In addition to medicine, other programs under consideration for the campus include nursing, physical therapy, paramedic training and other health-related professions.

Western University President, Philip Pumerantz, Ph.D., said there is a need for additional graduate health education in the nation, and a number of factors ultimately led to pursuing the partnership with SHS. "The alignment of the visions of both Samaritan and WesternU is very clear. This is an opportunity to put in place the elements which will, in a few short years, lead to the establishment of a multi-health-professions satellite campus of Western University of Health Sciences in Oregon," he said.

In 2007, SHS and Western University began collaborating on a program that places third- and fourth-year medical students in a series of clinical rotations with Samaritan-affiliated hospitals and physicians. Additionally, this month, SHS is welcoming its first group of physician residents, who will spend the next several years in the region completing their medical training in the areas of internal medicine, family practice, and psychiatry. An orthopedic residency program will begin in the summer of 2010.