Guest Opinions

Idaho Osteopathic college in Meridian a win-win-win

Tammy de Weerd.
Tammy de Weerd.

The City of Meridian and the Idaho State University (ISU) Meridian campus are focused on expanding the health science and technology corridor, the CORE, as well as bringing family wage jobs closer to where people live. The announcement of Idaho’s first medical school, the proposed Idaho College of Osteopathic Medicine (ICOM), is one that meets these goals and would be a huge addition for our community and the state of Idaho. This development is proof that investments made at ISU in Meridian have been critical in creating more employment, as well as research and grant opportunities. ISU’s new Anatomy and Physiology Lab and BioSkills Learning Center was a great draw to this new college and will be a tremendous complement to its mission.

ICOM is expected to have an approximate $79.5 million economic impact during the development period with approximately 350 new jobs created as a result of the construction and planning. Once opened, ICOM is expected to employ 90 full-time employees with an average wage of more than $88,000 annually. The state revenue to be generated by the college is projected at $18.4 million.

The proposed ICOM at Idaho State University will bring a long desired medical education college to Idaho. The school would be a freestanding, privately funded, separately licensed and independently operated entity located on the ISU Health Science Center campus in Meridian. This means taxpayers won’t fund the building or ongoing operations for the state’s first medical program. It also means medical students can collaborate with and share amenities at ISU.

I was excited that ICOM announced that it will give Idaho students preference if they meet academic requirements. There are many great and academically talented young people in Idaho who want to be physicians. It is incredibly competitive for Idahoans to get into medical school. Unfortunately, many of the folks who do get accepted into medical school have to leave Idaho. For example, there are currently 171 Idaho residents that had to leave the state to attend osteopathic medical schools elsewhere.

ICOM also aims to keep tuition less than the national median for private osteopathic medical schools — creating an affordable medical education option in Idaho. In addition, ICOM was able to utilize Idaho’s Tax Reimbursement Incentive, which qualifies it for $3.85 million over ten years. Most importantly, it plans to invest 100 percent of this reimbursement directly back into our students through scholarships. By having ICOM here in Meridian and Idaho, we hope to keep a larger number of graduates in our state. This is truly a public-private collaboration that benefits everyone — in particular, our children! It’s wonderful to know that our students dreaming of a future in medicine can now realize that dream right here at home.

The Idaho College of Osteopathic Medicine is a “trifecta.” It creates high-paying jobs; it implements smart public-private partnerships that benefit our community; and it helps to address the dire need in Idaho and the Intermountain West for physicians, particularly in rural areas. I’m very proud to support this endeavor for Meridian, for our region and for Idaho.

Tammy de Weerd is the mayor of Meridian.

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