In the News

This is an exciting time of the year for many reasons, but specifically for graduates who have finished their time in the classroom and are about to start their careers. Here in Fort Smith, the inaugural class of the Arkansas College of Osteopathic Medicine (ARCOM) received their hoods and diplomas on Saturday, May 15, 2021.

After four years, this class of 145 doctors will move on to residencies throughout the region and the nation. But first, they will celebrate their unique role as leaders and standard-setters within what has already become a vitally important and game-changing institution in western Arkansas.

ARCOM welcomed its first class of medical students in 2017. Four years later, the school celebrated its first Match Day with 95% of students placed into residency programs. Of those moving onto residences, 7% will work in primary care and almost two-thirds received placements in Arkansas and surrounding states. Studies show us that a majority of doctors stay and practice in the region they are educated, so I was also pleased to see that more than 50% of ARCOM’s first class of graduates matched in states that are considered in the bottom 10% for access to medical care. This is where they are needed and speaks to the mission and importance of ARCOM, not only to Arkansas, but our entire region.

As part of the Arkansas Colleges of Health Education (ACHE), ARCOM is transforming healthcare education and helping prepare future doctors to practice in medically underserved regions. It is inspiring to think about the efforts it took to make this day possible. The need for more medical professionals in Arkansas is great and the work put in by the students community leaders, generous donors and true visionaries who saw the need should be applauded today.

In addition to this inaugural class of osteopathic physicians, ACHE is celebrating its second commencement for graduates receiving a Master of Science in Biomedicine. The campus is now also home to the School of Physical Therapy, with its first class starting instruction in June 2021, and the School of Occupational Therapy which expects to welcome students in January 2022.

I am grateful for the incredible work being done by administration, faculty, staff and students. The campus is a cornerstone for new medical facilities, housing and opportunities in western Arkansas and continues to draw new resources to the area. Its impact has been significant and stands to grow well into the future.

I am also proud of these graduates. They have prepared for their medical careers during a challenging time, with full understanding of the importance of their charge and the task ahead. As they embark on their careers, I know they have seen and experienced more than they expected. They have chosen this path for a reason, and our state and nation are stronger because of their commitment to serving others.